Today was the first Sunday of Advent, four weeks in the Liturgical year set aside for prayer and reflection in order to prepare for Christ's arrival on Christmas day. Advent has always been one of favorite times of year. Granted, when I was younger, to me Advent meant preparing for Christmas in a more material sense. The first Sunday of Advent was also the day that my dad allowed us to start playing Christmas music in the house, which was exciting in itself. This year my brothers and I were excited because my dad put up our outside Christmas lights on the day after Thanksgiving, as opposed to waiting for the first Sunday of Advent as he usually does.
As I've gotten older and gone through year after year of Catholic education and watched my Theology teacher mom decorate Jesse Tree bulletin boards and plan prayer services, I've begun to appreciate Advent for what it really is--a time to prepare my heart for Jesus' arrival, as well as the coming Liturgical year. My faith has always been important to me, but it is not always something I am particularly vocal about. Also, as I've gotten older, I have found myself pulling away from my faith somewhat. I have noticed this especially during my last couple Advent seasons. I fall into a similar mindset as when I was younger; that is, I focus on the secular, material side of the season and often forget that Advent is more than a time for Christmas music and shopping, evergreens and peppermint. In fact, it is meant to be a time for sacrifice, something that very often gets lost in the shuffle of the pending Christmas season...
The point of this rambling blog post? While I do love preparing for Christmas in all its festive and material capacities, I am realizing that something is missing right now. This Advent season I am going to "find religion," if you will. All over again. Well, maybe that's a little extreme. I want to rediscover Advent. I'm not sure exactly how to go about doing that, but some simple prayer might be a good way to start. I'll keep you posted.
Here is a link for Pope Benedict XVI's address to those gathered in Saint Peter's square for the first Sunday of Advent-- http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=zenit&id=31086.