Advent Preparation 2015
ProLifeCorner- Today begins the second week of Advent. Many of us have seen the wreath with four candles that appear in many churches and homes across our country.
Many Christians look forward to the Advent season although some have no knowledge at all of what Advent is all about. We present this article in the hope that it will give us a better understanding of this beautiful practice leading us to the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Advent is the preparatory season leading up to Christmas. Themes of readiness, watchfulness and anticipation mark these days of penitential and austere preparation before Christmas. The purpose of Advent is to prepare us for a deep, personal, life-changing, world-shaking encounter with Christ this Christmas.
Monsignor Charles Pope writes that the color purple (violet) used during Advent is akin to its use in Lent, as both are considered penitential seasons. Hence we are to give special attention to our sins and our need for salvation. Traditionally we would take part in penitential practices of fasting and abstinence. Of course, in recent decades Advent has almost wholly lost any real penitential practices. There is no fasting or abstinence required. Confession is encouraged and the readings retain a kind of focus on repentance.
Long gone are the days of a 40 day fast leading up to Christmas. The observances were every bit as strict as Lent. And the fast and abstinence were far more than the token observances we have today. In most places, all animal products were strictly forbidden during Advent and Lent.
What is most remarkable is that such fasts of old were undertaken by men, women and children who had a lot less to eat than we do. Not only was there less food but it was far more seasonal and its supply less predictable. Further, famines and food shortages were more a fact of life than today. Yet despite all this, they were able to fast twice a year for 80 days total. There were also ember days sporadically through the year when a day long fast was enjoined. Can you imagine the belly aching [pun intended] if the Church called us to follow the strict norms of 200 years ago? We would hear that such demands were unrealistic, even unhealthy. The more we get. the more we want. And the more we want, the more we think we can’t live without. To some degree or another we are so easily owned by what we claim to own.
We are enslaved by our abundance and we experience little freedom to go without.
The Holy Spirit has led the Church that to prepare for Christ and Christmas, we must:
- Pray the Mass with so much love that Mass becomes the center of our lives. Thus, we have the word, “Christ-Mass.”
- Be immersed in repentance and express this by Advent Confession(s), see St. Luke 3:3.
- Abide in God’s word [St. John 8:31] and share His word. This is the origin of Christmas cards.
- Do penance, especially fasting. This is the connotation of the Advent color, purple.
- Do good deeds, especially almsgiving. This is the origin of Christmas gift giving.
Get ready for Christmas 2015 with an active penitential and repentant Advent season. Your Christmas will be far more meaningful focusing on the ONE who was born in a dirty and smelly stable, just so that you and I could enjoy eternity with Him in His Father’s mansion. Our Christmas will be joyful and spiritually meaningful to the extent of our Advent preparation!
This article was taken from (CAN) Christian Action News