Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent -- A Time of Preparation and Expectation

While the rest of the world gears up for Cyber-Monday, my family is beginning the observance of Advent, a season of preparation and expectation. We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent tonight by lighting the one purple candle of the Advent wreath and reciting prayers. As is the tradition in our family, our youngest read the prayers tonight, and this honor will rotate through the family for the next four weeks. The prayers call to mind our need for forgiveness and our desire for the coming of the Christ child, without Whom we would never know redemption.

Advent is considered a penitential season, although without the same level of emphasis on its penitential aspect as the Season of Lent. To show our love and appreciation for the sacrifice that the Lord makes in the Incarnation, we will take on small sacrifices and do extra acts of kindness. For each sacrifice and good deed the children will place a piece of straw in a humble manger to make the Christ Child's bed more comfortable upon His arrival.

Activities that allow the children to participate and have a tangible measure of their sacrifices and kindness help them to embrace the true essence of the season of Advent. Spiritual reading and prayer within the family allows the children to value the importance of preparation in anticipation of the coming of Christ. It makes the spiritual "real" and allows the graces to flow during this special time at the beginning of the Church's liturgical year.

Advent is a chance not only to prepare for the coming of the Lord, but also to start with baby steps to prepare for great penitential season of Lent in preparation for Holy Week and Easter. This time of year in the Church helps us to temper the secular materialism that permeates the culture with the reminder that we, as Catholics, are expected to prepare for what will ultimately lead us to eternity, the coming of the Christ Child, followed by His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Below is a link for Advent activities and traditions to explore in your families:

Have a Blessed Advent Season!

It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger -- 1986)

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