This Advent, take the following steps to fully prepare for the feast of the coming of Christ: Christmas as well as his coming at the end of time.
- Slow Down:
Stop and think about Christ a few times a day. Perhaps while you stop at the traffic light. Avoid being taken up by shopping and too many Christmas errands. Try not to take on new projects at home or work unless it is necessary. Aim to get home from work on time. Patiently spend time with family and friends. Take time to ponder how the God of the universe came down into our tiny world which he made. Read the gospel of the day before going to Mass on a weekday or on the Saturday before Sunday Mass.
2. Get an Advent Wreath:
Get an advent wreath. Light** one candle for each week of advent. Do so with family or friends or by yourself with your guardian angel. Say a prayer each time you light a candle. For example, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be. You may also sing an advent song. Let your heart long for the coming of our Lord. Think about what it means to be loved perfectly by a perfect person – God himself.
Note: please do not leave your candles unattended.
3. Reset Your Point of View:
Press the reset button on your life. Look at everything once again from the fresh perspective of God’s vantage point. Put your life and your plans in the context of eternity. See your life’s purpose in the context of salvation history. Re-prioritize your desires in view of God’s vision of his Kingdom. A kingdom of perfect love.
4. Wait Well:
Aim to improve your trust in God for those things you have asked him for, and which he has not yet provided. Recall that the Israelites waited for centuries for the Messiah, Luke 10: 24; t 1: 17 . Learn to wait on the Lord – joyfully and with hope. In doing so, you will find all the strength you need to carry on. This could mean the strength to continue to wait joyfully or to the preparedness to receive your prayer request, once granted, with the right disposition Isaiah 40:31.
5. Make an Act of Contrition Daily:
Think of all the things in your life that you know Christ would not be happy with. Ask him for forgiveness, healing and strength to say no to them. Go to confession as soon as you can. The coming of the Lord requires a clean and contrite heart. Christ will not turn away a heart that is contrite and ready to begin again with him, Psalm 51:17.
6. Practice Joy:
Decide to practice joy as much as you can. Aim to always see the bright side of everything. Counter every negative thought about what you do not have with thoughts about what you do have: life, breath, strength, relatively good health etc. See the little faults of others as opportunities to practice your Christian virtues.
7. Moderate your Passions:
Indulge a little less in those things that you often cannot resist. That extra cookie, that Netflix series, the urge to speak often. Advent is a solemn time like Lent, although not as strict. Therefore, embark on a light fast. For instance, fast from things that bring earthly pleasures and increase things that bring divine grace. For instance, awake every morning with a thought of thanksgiving to God no matter what lies ahead in the day. Make your thanksgiving take precedence over your personal worries. Work on reducing your fear and increasing your trust in God by simply saying often and with sincerity, in your heart, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
“He must increase; but I must decrease“
— St. John the Baptist (John 3: 30)
*Credit for the title of this article: Fr. Fred Dolan, “Conversion and Contrition, St. Josemaria Institute Podcast, November 29, 2018
**Be safe. Turn off the candle after use. Try to purchase an electric, LED or battery-charged wreath to ensure safety.