I have always enjoyed the season of winter, particularly winter in Minnesota. I know that this may be a surprise to some people, even my fellow Minnesotans, however, it is true. What I find so appealing about winter is not just playing hockey or the beautiful Christmas lights, but the world becomes more quiet. When there is snow on the ground and the night sets in so early, we humans quiet ourselves down. And it is when we are quiet, that we are able to notice the simple and peaceful gifts of life...and so it is with Advent.
Today, we begin our season of Advent, or as I like to call it, “the forgotten season.” The Advent season is a time of anticipation, a time of waiting, a time of preparation, and it is a season of quiet. For us, Advent ought to be a time where we actually slow down, set aside some of the clutter of our minds and truly prepare to notice Jesus Christ. Remember that Jesus Christ did not arrive with fireworks or with great notice to the world, he quietly and humbly entered into the human existence. This is true for Jesus in 2017. He does not barge into our lives, but rather, he is quiet and humble, waiting for an invitation to be welcomed into your life.
So for this Advent, I offer some ways to quiet our lives:
First, spend some time in family prayer. Choose to make time in the evening to pray as a family. Use the readings from the daily mass (found at usccb.org), read them as a family, and then have each family member go around and make a prayer to God. Then close with a Hail Mary prayer (which starts with a quote from the Archangel Gabriel to Mary).
Second, choose to turn off the TV in the evening and have some time simply listening to music as a family together. I enjoy television as much as the next person, but having some time without visible stimulation can truly help to quiet our hearts.
Finally, light an advent wreath at home. There is something quieting about the gift of a small flame in the house that reminds us of the coming of the light of Jesus Christ into the world.
You may have your own ways to enter into the quiet of Advent, to prepare your hearts and home for the arrival of Jesus. In whatever ways we can, let us embrace the spirit of Advent so that we may truly rejoice with Mary and Joseph at the arrival of Jesus at Christmas.