Sunday, December 1, 2013

Anticipating and Preparing...

Happy New Liturgical Year!!

Today marks the beginning of Advent - a great season, and not just because the liturgical color is purple. Advent is a time of anticipating Jesus' coming - both His first coming 2,000 years ago which we relive each year, and His second coming when the earth and time cease to exist.

Let's not let Christmas overtake Advent. Christmas has its own time. The anticipation, the waiting, the hoping, the preparation - that's what makes Advent special. By jumping straight to Christmas, we miss that build-up and the reflection on what we need to do to ready ourselves for Christ.

We have a lot to prepare before Christmas - decorating, buying gifts, arranging travel plans, cooking, and the list goes on. And while these can be good things, they can also distract us from the more important preparation: readying our souls to meet Christ.

I love these short, dedicated seasons where we can make a conscious effort to go beyond our normal self and grow closer to God. In short bursts of effort, it's easy to form good habits, especially when the underlying reason for them is to deepen faith. For the 40 Days for Life that occurred throughout October, I committed myself to saying a daily rosary. After a breakup this summer, I told God I wouldn't think of dating another guy for 40 days. Both of these commitments have strengthened my relationship with Christ and brought me closer to the person I want to be.

40 days seems to be the perfect length of time for a dedicated effort. It's long enough to be difficult but short enough that it's still energizing and do-able. 40 days doesn't feel so overwhelming (like with a New Year's Resolution), so it's easier to stick with. And it forms habits.

For Advent this year, I'm undertaking the St. Andrew Christmas Novena which started yesterday. I'm praying this 26-day prayer to understand my vocation. Whether I arrive at Christmas with a definite answer on my calling or not, I'll be a better person for the reflection and devotion. I'm excited to spend my Advent longing for a more perfect union with Christ.

So let's look forward to Christmas, joyfully anticipating, preparing, and waiting for Jesus' birth in this season of Advent.

Mall of America

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