It absolutely goes without saying that, this year—in new and different ways than ever before—we are on the search for hope and for light. As we keep on slogging through the year that just won’t quit, we may have looked just far enough ahead to note that we are mere weeks away from the dawn of the Advent season—the season of light, preparing our hearts to welcome the Christ Child.
Rather than put anyone into a panic over the list of things to do, I hope to offer a handful of ideas worth indulging in, in an effort to nourish our legitimately weary hearts.
Traditional Christmas parties, family gatherings, travel, and pageants—even Masses—are necessarily going to take on a new look. Where the demand for going and doing decreases, we pilgrims find ourselves in a window of significant possibility.
Advent Resources Worth Your Prayer Time
Maybe, like me, you are approaching the Church’s new year with a voracious appetite to be fueled up. In many respects, I wonder if our experience of preparation and celebration might not take on a simpler appearance for the changes that have come about in the midst of the ongoing pandemic? And if we might not be richer for it?
In hopes that that might be the case, I’ve put together a list of Advent resources that are worth your prayer time.
Maranatha (and companion children’s devotional)
The 2020 Advent devotional offers a daily guide through the story of our Savior, Jesus. Through Scripture, stories, and journaling questions, you’ll be invited to enter into guided prayer with the greater Blessed is She community.
The attributes of Jesus you’ll find emphasized each week include: The Incarnation//Messiah, Ministry//Shepherd, Cross//Healer, Evangelization//Way.
Little Black Books
Parishes frequently pass out Little Black Books from the Diocese of Saginaw to guide parishioners through the seasons of Advent and Lent.
These are perfect for sticking into a backpack or purse to have with you to sneak moments of prayer into your day.
You can find the daily readings on all kinds of apps, on the USCCB website or in missals like Magnificat and Give Us This Day. And of course, you can journey through Advent with the Blessed is She daily readings + devotions for free here.
Following along with the readings of the day serves to enrich the Nativity story beyond the Sunday readings alone.
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Feast Days + Rituals
December is jam-packed with feast days to help prepare for the coming of the Infant Jesus!
Saint Nicholas Day, December 6
Saint Nick’s day is an excellent opportunity to capitalize on the holiness of the season instead of/in addition to the story of Santa. Whether with your roommates, spouse, or children, everyone loves the fun of little treats in their shoes!
Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8
Gift yourself with a quiet hour to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady’s conception.
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12
Celebrate Mary’s apparition to Juan Diego in Mexico. Learn about the beautiful imagery Mary left as a sign to create a space to worship God.
Saint Lucia Day, December 13
I was first introduced to Saint Lucia day in my memories of the American Girl’s series. Traditions to celebrate Saint Lucy abound, including early morning candles and warm bread!
Eat dinner by candlelight // Let candles at evening or Sunday meals remind all of your senses about the coming of the Light of the World.
Have an Advent Sunday ritual // An out-of-the-ordinary tea party/dessert is a really fun way to set apart Advent Sundays
Write letters // Christmas cards will certainly take on a different appearance this year, perhaps it could be a good time to write a few real letters to those who you have not had the chance to see recently.
Support a favorite charity // Like the wise men who wished to give meaningful gifts to the Christ child, spend some time in prayer asking God who might appreciate a meaningful gift that you can offer.
Go caroling // An outdoor tradition in making a joyful noise! Groups don’t have to be large to spread a lot of cheer.
Read // There are an abundance of Advent books for adults and children alike. Often I gravitate toward the simple truth and illustrations of classic children’s stories to add to whatever preparation I am pursuing.
Enjoy the sounds of the season // Tune in to a virtual concert on TV, on the radio, or via Zoom! Advent is a season of joyful anticipation. With theaters and music halls in flux this year, it should make for a great year to enjoy from your living room.
Advent wreaths // Whether you make your own or have an annual favorite, the Advent wreath is a beautiful and simple way to make the coming of Emmanuel this season.
Advent calendars // Most notably this is a tradition children enjoy, but it’s not just for kids! Advent calendars can be decorative, delicious, and/or spiritual in practice. For the DIYers, creating your own might be an fun challenge as well.
Crèche // Set up a nativity scene in stages. For instance, the Magi travel to get to the manger; the Baby Jesus doesn’t arrive in the manger until Christmas day!
Candles // Advent wreath candles can be synonymous with candles, but the truth is in this season of darkness (in the northern hemisphere), any and all light serves as a reminder of the hope of the coming Messiah and the darkness that “does not overcome it” (John 1:5).
Prepare Your Heart
While we prepare to embark on this holy season in an unfamiliar way, would that we do it with the wonder and excitement that it’s due!
If 2020 has revealed anything to us, it is that what once felt predictable and safe can change in an instant, inviting responses of creativity—one of my favorite attributes of Our Lord. May it be so.
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