By: Sister Mary Colombiere, O.C.D.
In Advent we experience expectation, anticipation, preparation and longing. We want things to be set right. We want deliverance from monotony, suffering, anguish, trials and worry. But joy can be experienced even in the midst of trials. Part of our Advent journey is to allow God to lead. Our Lady must have experienced great anticipation and joy in view of the coming birth of Jesus, but she was not spared trial and hardship. She lived as a real person in a real moment of time. She was a member of a subjugated people under Roman domination. She prepared for the coming of the birth of her God and her Son always within the context of what God placed before her each day.
When we lose the sense of wonder we fail to transcend the person, thing or event before us. Life becomes an endless succession of days, a countless series of activities to complete, never-ending tasks to be performed. We get caught up in the hectic pace and busyness of life and the joy of doing what we are doing is slowly drained from us. In our liturgical seasons we fall prey to the frenzied tempo of commercialism. We lose the wonder of childhood and we look toward Christmas as one more thing to get over, shopping to finish, gifts to wrap, cards to write, meals to prepare, cookies to bake, rooms to decorate, etc. They are no longer activities to look forward to as traditions we celebrate, labors of love, events that look to the manger, but last minute hurried tasks that pile up around us like gift wrap torn from packages and then left heaped up on the floor.
But then how do we take advantage of Advent to prepare for Christmas? Perhaps we have gotten too far away from why we have Christmas at all. It is after all Christ’s birthday. How can we make this the focus of everything we do in the days leading up to Christmas?
It is essential that we slow down and simplify. To slow down I need to take some time to reflect on what I do and why I do it. Is each one of my Christmas activities something that is done in a thoughtful and loving way? Can I simplify some of those activities so that I can truly enjoy them more? How many of these activities spiritually prepare me or my family for the Birth of Jesus? Is Advent for me a Reason for the Season of Christmas?