What May We Do to Make Advent Less “Frantic,” More Prayerful

Part of the rigors of publishing a Catholic newspaper twice a month is to look ahead and be aware of what feasts, holidays, and seasons are right around the corner. So as I write this column on Nov. 10, I have to be aware of Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent.

It is always a nice practice to create a “litany of Thanksgiving,” to acknowledge the many blessings of life. In my “litany of Thanksgiving,” I am thankful for the gift of my life and the gift of my life of faith. I am thankful for the priests, deacons, and religious who work diligently throughout the diocese, each doing their part to build up the faith. I am thankful for the diocesan staff who day-in and day-out continue to give their all in supporting our efforts to grow in holiness, intentional discipleship and witnessing to the faith. I am thankful for the many individuals that I’ve come to know throughout the diocese in big and small parishes who constantly pray for me. It is humbling, as I realize just how many people lift me up in prayer. For all of these blessings and countless many more, I give thanks to almighty God. I hope that each one of you would take a moment to create your own “litany of Thanksgiving” and end it with a heartfelt “Thanks be to God!”

I received a letter postmarked Oct. 16 and I thought it would be a good segue into the Advent Season, which is right around the corner, beginning Dec. 3. The letter itself was written on October 7, the day of the tragedy in Israel. The letter is self-explanatory:
We have no idea what Christmas will look like for us this year. Eight years ago, we stopped celebrating Christmas, or should we say “I”, as I was the one that took care of everything—the baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, card-sending, letter-writing, picture-taking. I was the one that took on all the stress for the family, and my favorite time of year, Thanksgiving to New Year’s, was now the most dreaded time of year. All the joy, fun, and excitement was gone, not because of what I had to do but because of how I saw this country go back to the “same old, same old” the DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS! Forget about sharing the spirit of Christmas all year long. The fact that Jesus came into this world seemed to make no difference, other than the fact that everyone had an excuse for racking up the credit cards and getting time off work to travel wherever. Trying to come up with gift ideas for grown children and grandchildren that had way more than they needed already—I felt pushed to the breaking point and I said “NO MORE!!!” I stopped doing all of it. My family understood, but I felt guilty, thinking they would think I didn’t love them, until my Angel assured me that my family, our family, was well aware of our love for them. So this Christmas, this fall, this holiday season, I’m hoping and praying with all my heart, that things will be different, that there will be a true reason for celebrating once again … if Jesus is truly the Reason for the Season, then every day should be Christmas.

It is always beneficial to look at how we celebrate our faith. As we enter into the season of Advent, could we maybe learn a lesson from this woman’s own experience? What could you do to make the weeks leading up to Christmas less frantic and more prayerful? How about extra Mass during the week? Find out when your parish is offering confession and make that a part of the season. Invite family members to go with you to confession. I have always recommended the practice of making a visit to the parish church or to one of our adoration chapels whenever one goes shopping during the Advent Season. By being more intentional, more focused on the sacraments, we can sanctify this season which can become so hectic.

CHRIST THE KING
 I was recently given an Advent book based on the writings of Padre Pio, Advent and Christmas, Wisdom from Padre Pio (2005). The forward of the book gets to the very heart of the matter when he writes “What do you seek on earth if not God?” He then writes, “As the holy feast of Christmas approaches, I feel obliged in conscience not to let it pass without wishing you a Christmas full of those heavenly consolations which your heart desires.” Let every heart be prepared to receive Him anew!

We end our liturgical year with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus, King of the Universe, celebrated this year on Nov. 26. I always look forward to going to Bunker to celebrate Mass and participate in their tradition of crowning the statue of Christ the King that overlooks the highway.

May the end of the liturgical year give us pause to reflect on all the blessings that have been given to us over this past year.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

 

Published in the November 24, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Credit: The Mirror