On Being “Ready” for Advent

Tonight, I am experiencing an odd experience — incredible anticipation for the start of the Advent season and our new liturgical year.

Why is that odd? Well, I’ll admit to often having been an Advent slacker. Too many years, I didn’t truly embrace the season until well into the second — or sometimes even third — week. It’s such a busy time of the year, and though I did “go through the motions” those years, my heart wasn’t in it.

And can I make another confession? Last year, when Advent rolled around, I could barely stand the sight of purple and rose. Why? I’d spent the Autumn months of 2011 locked away in our university library, researching and writing my little Advent devotional O Radiant Dawn. You would think that spending so much time reading and contemplating the scriptures of the season would leave one more inspired than ever. Truthfully, last year, it didn’t.

But it must have planted some tiny, baby seed that caught enough light and sustenance to be nurtured within me. This year, rested up a bit and in amazing spirits, I am raring to embrace Advent. This Fall, I’ve been fortunate enough to give several talks about the season of Advent. Somehow, in coaxing others to embrace what is truly at the core of the season, I’m finally understanding it for myself.

What’s interesting is how I now realize that though our participation in Advent heightens at this time of the year, in honesty we are always a people of Advent. Yes, we celebrate Christ’s coming at Christmas, but we are also constantly called to be a people of readiness for his Second Coming, and we joyfully receive him in our hearts and souls each time we receive the Eucharist.

Perhaps you’re where I was last year — not ready, non-compliant. I’d ask you to separate in your mind your “readiness” to do stuff like decorating or even embracing traditions such as Advent calendars and wreaths from your willingness to be a person of Advent. Strip away any expectations you may have for how this season is supposed to “look” and focus more on what’s happening inside. Please also know that since I’ve been through my own spiritually dry times, I am praying in a special way for those of you who aren’t quite there yet, for whom tomorrow (and perhaps several more days) will come and go with no discernable change in your life.

Are you “ready” for Advent this year? What helps you to keep this season faithfully?

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com and connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

  • http://www.snoringscholar.com Sarah Reinhard

    I love your wreath! :)

    You know, I find myself in a sort of weird position this year too. Last year, while I was promoting my Advent book, I was, ahem, um, NOT so much in an Advent frame of mind.

    This is the first year I have a kid who can read in the house and another kid who is interested. I’m realizing that they’re older and they “get” it more. The other day, in the car, Elizabeth was recounting a conversation and she said something about a friend having their tree up. “It’s not even Advent yet!” I admit, I was a bit proud. :)

    So…we’ll see. I think we might use your book and one or two of the other little ones I have floating around.

    And we’ll talk and prepare and wait for Pink Sunday when we can put up our tree. I’ll be cleaning and clearing and that will get us all paying attention and waiting too.

    I’m planning on fasting a bit too (from something totally silly, yes, but I always find an Advent fast of some sort to be helpful), and Elizabeth has her First Communion very much on her mind.

    Thanks for this post and for getting me thinking about it even more. :)

  • Sparki

    I’m really trying to get into an Advent frame of mind. I have a job that’s pretty demanding on a regular basis, plus an hour commute each way. For the last two Decembers, my department has been short-handed, and that’s meant lots of extra hours for me…and crossing off a lot of stuff on my list of Advent *and* Christmas observations with my family. This year, I promised myself, my husband and the kids it would be different. And then one of my team of three quit right before Thanksgiving. So it’s December #3 of being short-handed, and the boss has put me on the most demanding account. I hate that account with a passion. It’s been mismanaged for years, with completely unrealistic expectations and deadlines. I’m perfectly capable of doing a great job at it, but I grumbled about it all last week, resenting the overtime, the insane requests from internal and external clients, the lack of respect for my other responsibilities at work and at home. I dreamed of quitting…of course, I couldn’t do that to my family (my husband is a Catholic school teacher who makes well less than $30k and there are zero jobs available for me in this area!), and I really don’t want to do that to my other teammate, who is the mother of a 1-year-old and already constantly in tears about the pressure at work. Today, I stumbled across the “Act of Self-Offering” – I’m a convert and I’ve never seen it before. But this will be my prayer for Advent. When I am home, I intend to be fully engaged in Advent. I won’t bake (at all), and I won’t make things like I’d planned (at least, not as much), but I *will* do the most important parts of Advent with my kids and we *will* welcome Jesus with joy at Christmas.

  • http://inspiredangela.wordpress.com Angela Sealana

    “…we are always a people of Advent.” So true, Lisa! And thanks for the honesty. :)
    Dan and I plan on getting a XMas tree on Dec. 24th…cheap *and* liturgically correct. ;)