Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... Advent

Each year in the Cotter home we evaluate how we are living out the seasons of Advent and Christmas. According to the world the Christmas season began on Friday, but according to our faith Friday was just another day in Ordinary Time and Christmas doesn't begin for another month.

Today we begin the season of Advent. A season set aside to slow down and prepare for the birth of our Lord. A season to contemplate the coming of the Messiah 2,000 years ago. A season to contemplate His return at an unknown date.

Our dining room Advent candles.
With the commercialization of Christmas often our society does not slows down to prepare for His coming. Instead, we accept the invitation to indulge in out-of-control spending, over eating, and ridiculous amounts of decorating.

The kid's filled their manger with hay for the time being, as Jesus has not yet arrived.
We spend December stressed out and feeling rushed and then when Christmas arrives it is one huge crash and burn that leaves many feeling empty. Waking up on December 26th is a disappointment when they think it's all over, but really this is when it should begin.

The wise men have a long journey across the desert until they reach the nativity. The kids set this up, not me.
None of the above is what the Church intended for the season of Advent.

Decorating the tree in the liturgical colors of pink and purple. When we are home for Christmas we switch out the pink and purple for our family ornaments on Christmas Eve. This is also when we turn the lights on, an event that only happens on the Feast of St. Lucy and Guadete Sunday during Advent. 
Traditionally Advent was lived out in the Church with fasting and abstinence, much like Lent. People fasted so that when Christmas came the feast meant something. The halls were decked and the Christmas tree when up on Christmas Eve and Christmas parties happened during the liturgical Christmas season because the 12 days of Christmas started on December 25th.

The kids will spend Advent saying extra prayers and making small sacrifices to earn a piece of hay for their mangers. On Christmas morning they will have made a soft bed for the baby Jesus to lay his head on.
In the Cotter home we've chosen to live Advent, not because celebrating Christmas is bad, but because waiting to celebrate Christmas is that good.

How have you been called to live out this special season in your family this year?

Be saints, it's worth it!


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