We are one-fifth of the way through winter! Only four more months until the snow starts melting; just 22 days until we start gaining light instead of losing it! Yes, I'm feeling optimistic today, why do you ask? It may be -31 F outside, but gas is down to $3.69 per gallon! Little Bear was startled by my suddenly bursting into the Happy Days theme song as we passed the gas station on the way home.
Advent begins on Sunday! How are you observing the season this year? I must admit, before this year I hadn't really realized that Advent is a time for penitential preparation for Christmas. I'm not sure how that escaped me in the past--the liturgical color is purple, and we omit the Gloria--but I can't recall ever being told that penitence is just as important as joyful preparation during this season. It certainly makes sense: Why would we prepare externally for Christ's coming without preparing internally as well?
Observing Advent as its own liturgical season and not just a tailgate party, if you will, for Christmas is a bit of a paradigm shift, so I've been doing a lot of reading to figure out what we should do this year. I'm sure open to suggestions, but this is what we are thinking so far:
Confession: We already try to go to confession once a month, but I'm hoping to go every other week during Advent; it's so much easier to keep focused on God when my heart is right with Him! Many of the parishes in our area offer penance services during Advent, with reflections followed by many priests available for individual confession.
Prayer: Matt and I both grew up lighting an Advent Wreath, but with different prayer traditions; his family lit it during dinner, and mine lit it during a family rosary in the evening. We aren't allowed to burn candles at all in our current apartment, plan to at least have the wreath as the focal point on our table, and add the week's Collect to our evening prayers. We used an Advent booklet of reflections and Scripture passages last year but weren't terribly impressed, so we are still looking for some kind of reading to use this year.
Home: How does one decorate for Advent? With simplicity, I suppose, given that it is a penitential season. I have some purple linen scrapers over the ironing board, waiting to be hemmed into a table cloth. The Advent wreath, crèche, and nativity icon will be ensconced prominently on the highest shelf in the living room, and we will try to stick with Advent chant instead of Christmas music as long as we can.
Some people feel strongly about waiting until Christmas Eve to put up any Christmas decor at all; I'm not one of them. It seems contrary to the idea if Advent-as-preparatory-time to make the day before Christmas a crazy, stressful disaster. Maybe their decoration isn't stressful; I'm guaranteed at least one or two calamities in the process. If we had a full four weeks of Advent, I think we would start decorating on the fourth Sunday, but since we really only have three weeks this year, we are planning to start during the third week.
Have a great weekend! Find more quick takes at ConversionDiary.com.