It's beginning to look a lot like Advent

Oh, Advent. Sweet little Advent. Like the forgotten middle child, nestled in between Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas mayhem. When our culture goes from turkeys to trees in one fell swoop, it’s easy to get caught in the tide. But, I say we swim against the tide. (I think Pope Francis would be proud.)

Sometimes I feel a bit like the Grinch whose heart is two sizes too small—not because I hate the Christmas season (most definitely not!), but because I tend to recoil with disdain at the barrage of post-Thanksgiving commercialism each year. How I yearn for a world—heck, even a neighborhood—that embraces the season of quiet expectation, longing, preparation. But oh, the noise! Noise, noise, noise! I’d much rather trade my grinchy, liturgical police approach for a quiet, hidden, prayerful one. Because if I’m busy getting worked up about the state of our Advent-less world, I forget to actually prepare for Jesus.

So, to retain my peace in the midst of the mess, I’m committing to a few simple things:

St. Andrew Christmas novena

I just discovered this gem of a novena, and how I look forward to seeing what graces God brings through it! It’s a simple prayer to be said 15 times a day until Christmas (and it just started on St. Andrew’s feast day yesterday—you’re not too late!) I intend to say the prayer in moments throughout my day, bringing my attention to the coming of Jesus and allowing my longing for Him to grow. Here’s the prayer if you’d like to join:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Bishop Barron’s Advent reflections

You guys, Bishop Barron is the best. THE best. And his daily Advent reflections reflect his superlative nature to a T. I discovered his seasonal emails last year, and they enriched my Advent so greatly. Sign up here. You won’t regret it. Here’s a sneak peek:

No matter how much we know, we want to know more; no matter how much we love, we want greater love; no matter how much beauty we attain, we sense that there is a perfect beauty that we haven’t seen. “O come O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” That great Advent hymn catches our ache. As we move into this season of anticipation, allow that ache to develop, preparing you for the satisfaction that will arrive only in Christ.

The Reed of God

Again with the extremes: this book is my favorite of all time. I mean ALL time. It’s a game-changer. I’m pretty sure I want to name my daughter Caryll if I ever have one. She has this magnificent way with words that never ceases to seize my heart. She writes on Mary as “an empty reed, waiting for God’s music to be played through her.” (What? Beautiful.) And this year I have the distinct joy of delving into it with my women’s small group, an even greater way to ponder its truths. I plan to sift carefully, prayerfully through it, both alone and in conversation, looking to Caryll’s wisdom and Mary’s continual yes to ready my own heart. You can't go wrong with words like these:

Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of Divine Love growing in silence.

It is the season of humility, silence, and growth.

For nine months grew in His Mother’s body. By His own will she formed Him from herself, from the simplicity of her daily life.

She had nothing to give Him but herself.

He asked for nothing else.

She gave Him herself.

Every beat of her heart gave Him His heart to love with, His heart to be broken by love.

So there you have it. It’s not much, I know. But these three habits, I hope, will shape my days in a quiet, hidden way, renewing my ardent desire for the coming of that little babe. And just maybe, my small grinchy heart will grow three sizes one of these days.


How about you? How are you planning to enter into this Advent season? I’d love to know.





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