We’re beginning a new liturgical year and now is when I reflect on my past year’s efforts in matters of faith, and, through prayer and fasting and the quiet of Advent, try to figure out what I need to work on next year.
As we lit the first candle of our Advent wreath on Sunday, in a dark dining room devoid of any other decorations, Tony read about how we, the world, are in darkness. But there is that glimmer of light, which will grow, the closer we move to Christmas. I’ve tried to embrace the quiet and the darkness of Advent much more in recent years. It’s hard to be still in a world that is already celebrating Christmas through food, song and decoration. But the older I get, the more I realize I need this season of penance and quiet preparation to fully enjoy the feast when it arrives. For the same reason I don’t start eating Easter candy on Ash Wednesday, I try to pull back from the secular “Christmas Season” as much as I can.
It’s not as strict of a season as Lent (because the Resurrection of Our Lord is the greater feast), but we’re trying to incorporate prayers, fasting and almsgiving into our family’s Advent. For prayers, we focus on saying them around the Advent wreath at our table every night, singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and focusing on the O Antiphons when they arrive. We attend Mass more frequently and remember several prayers and novenas that are associated with various feast days this month. Personally, I want to be more diligent in my daily prayers, and remember to say all the novena prayers! (This should be of some help.) For almsgiving, we’re hosting orphans (in case you didn’t know).
For fasting, we give up desserts and sweets as a family. Exceptions are made for certain feast days, and of course Sunday. Tony and I have also decided to give up added sugar. It’s not a rigorous Whole30, but its uncomfortable and it means I’m eating too many dates and cashew butter.
I also decided to pull back on social media. My goal is to only check Facebook or Twitter after 9 p.m. at night. I’m keeping up with Instagram because it’s not the same time suck, people don’t post the same sorts of negative stuff and I’m hoping to keep up with the Holy Lens prompts created by Abbey at Surviving Our Blessings. Find her on IG HERE.
I’m still catching up on the Catholic Mindfulness course (plus I want to re-read/ re-watch most of the material to take notes) so I’m hoping those moments when I want to sit down and jump online to waste time, I will instead be reminded to just be still and quiet.
So there’s a few quick thoughts on how we’re doing Advent. Shortly after Christmas, we get the new calendar year, and I can self-analyze again, hopefully with a clear head. What do you do during Advent to quietly prepare for Christ?