Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We find ourselves at the start of another Advent season. Unfortunately, it seems that of all the liturgical seasons throughout the life of the Church, Advent is the one that gets lost in the shuffle. In the added busyness in the month of December, who has the time to consider the themes and importance of Advent?
When did we get in such a rush for everything? No sooner do we finish with one season or holiday and there is an instantaneous switch to the next one. Good luck buying summer clothes or decorations in late July; you should have thought of that in May when it was actually on sale. It boggles my mind that it’s all so hurried.
Perhaps the holiday most affected by this hyper-anticipation is that of Christmas. It used to be that we waited until after Thanksgiving to kick into the Christmas spirit. This was slightly hurried to begin with, but now as soon as we pass Halloween, it’s full speed ahead to Yuletide festivities. Two months of Christmas specials,
movies, and TV shows; eight weeks of Christmas carols and songs on the radio; 55 days of emails, alerts, and notifications of gift-giving and shopping deals. It’s so much and so constant that it becomes overbearing or tiresome by the time December 25th actually arrives.
Luckily, there is something to help alleviate the feeling of Christmas overload.
The answer is the season of Advent. Yes, Advent is a season of anticipation and preparation, just as society around us prepares and anticipates for Christmas. But the tenor and timber of the two are vastly different. In the case of society at large, the pace is frenetic and crazy; rush, rush, rush. In the case of Advent, it is a slow, steady unfolding; a gradual build up until everything brims over. Consider the traditional hallmarks of the season, things like Advent wreaths and Advent calendars.
You don’t start with it all at once. You begin with a single lighted candle and single opened door, and eventually you work up to a fully lit wreath and a calendar with no more surprise chocolates or treats. Advent is as much about preparing as it is about learning to wait in joyful expectation.
Friends, this Advent season presents a chance to prepare in a meaningful way for the great solemnity of our Savior’s birth. I invite you and your families to think about using this time to take a step back and enter into the prayerful anticipation of Christmas. I’m not saying to stop your shopping or listening to Christmas music; feel free to enjoy the other aspects of the holiday season. But perhaps rather than burning out with all Christmas all the time, heed the wisdom of Advent and build slowly in your enjoyment of the birth of Jesus.
Peace and Goodness,