A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Prepare to Prepare

Posted on: November 24, 2014

At yesterday’s Mass, our priest asked the congregation when Advent would begin. “December first,” one little girl promptly volunteered.

I imagine she was thinking of the date she could open the first door on her Advent calendar. But she wasn’t far off: the first Sunday of Advent is next Sunday. Believe it or not.

Advent calendar

My son’s Advent calendar

We need to prepare…to prepare.

I don’t mean just stocking up on ingredients for Christmas cookies or fruitcake. Or checking our supplies of wrapping paper, gift bags and tape for wrapping presents a bit at a time or in one marathon session. Or even hauling out the boxes of decorations and ornaments and planning to pick out a real tree (or seeing whether the artificial one is still in good enough shape to use this year).

I’m talking about preparing our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Baking and gift-giving and decorating plans can be wonderful and enjoyable parts of the Advent season, but are we forgetting to make plans that focus on our faith?

Here are just a few things to think about:

  • Arrive at Mass in time to see the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. And when the parish list of Advent services becomes available, take note of the dates of the Christmas pageant, reconciliation services and Christmas services. Celebrate the season with the parish!
  • If the parish participates in a community holiday parade, offer to march with the parish float to remind people what the season is about.
  • If our parish prepares and distributes food hampers to those in need or collects shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, think about putting together a hamper or a shoebox as a family or as a youth group project.
  • Offer to help decorate the church for Advent or sign up to serve as a lector or greeter or in another role for Christmas services.
  • This time of year, many charities contact us with requests for donations. Ask God for guidance in donating money, time and/or items to organizations that touch our hearts.
  • Remember that Advent is a busy time for parish priests and pray for energy, patience and wisdom for pastors—and for ministry group leaders, too.
  • In the midst of all the festivities in December, set some quiet time aside to spend with God—at home, at Eucharistic adoration, at a midday Mass—asking him to help us be reasonable in our spending and mindful of those in need and to help us stay focussed on Jesus as the reason for the season. Block off the time in a planner, if need be.

I pray that we would keep our faith at the centre of our Advent and Christmas preparations.





Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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