Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simply Advent

While my bread is baking in my (borrowed) bread machine. and pecan pie is cooling on my counter, I am inspired to write about an upcoming event which is going to have incredible meaning for me. No I am not talking about Christmas, but rather what comes before Christmas, which would be Advent. Although I have seen some symbolism of Advent (like the wreath, or the colors associated with it) I have never really observed Advent, and this year will be my first time discovering what it is and trying to understand and anticipate the birth of Christ through it. I have been reading, discussing, and researching for about three weeks to have at least some background knowledge on this mysterious and not much talked about season. I have seen some absolutely adorable customs (such as the crib made of paper 'good action' hay) and some customs that are very intense (like the Divine Office), but they all have one thing in common - they prepare us for the coming of the birth of Jesus.

From the little that I do understand, it is a time of reflection, anticipation, and also of restraint. At first when I understood this, I thought I was reading about Lent, rather than Advent, but through further research I understand the tradition and meaning behind choosing certain actions in which to restrain yourself. I have personally chosen to abstain from all alcohol and to refrain from using Facebook more than twice a week (what a contrast from previous generations!). I have also worked on making a manger out of clay, and although it is my first attempt at serious sculpting, I am taking pride in every character that comes out of my hands, unshapely as they seem! The more I make the characters (shepherds, animals, etc) the closer I get to making the Holy Family, the more I am anticipating making them, and I think that this could be my alternative (for now) to having Holy images around my home covered to create this desire to see Him (which was a beautifully described idea my friend Amy gave me). I want to make Joseph, Mary, and finally baby Jesus in a crib pretty badly, I must admit. I actually wanted to start with them, but I would rather practice with the sheep than with the Virgin Mother, lets say :D! Amy also gave me particular readings from the Bible to help me along with connecting to the true spirit of Advent, which I am very much looking forward to (I do love the Old Testamanent). I have also promised myself that I would attend Mass at least once before the Christmas Mass, this being really hard to do because of school from 9-5 on Sundays. The last thing that I will do for Advent, is light the candles on each night around supper time. I say around because I have a very tough schedule (I finish work at 3:15, and go to school for 7:00. Jeff starts to work at 5:00. Which means I usually wait for him to eat after school) and so I will not only try to light the candle, and listen to O Emmanuel, but regulate my eating schedule. I am quite proud of my wreath! I have to admit that I have this annoying habbit of starting many projects, but having difficulty finishing them, so not only am I still working on my manger, but I have finished my wreath and have it all ready to light tonight!

I have also been thinking that I want to use Advent to come closer to Mary, and try to reach her and understand her and her voyage, but Im wondering if I should be focusing on the Birth? Ah, the things I have to learn!

"It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…" - Fr. Andrew Greeley

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