6 ways to keep that Advent candle burning By Maria Wiering
DECEMBER 11, 2009 (http://thecatholicspirit.com
) - There’s no way Christmas can sneak up on us this year — it smacked us in the face with its early department store arrival just after Halloween. Commercial Christmas, I mean — the Christmas of the over-priced wrapping paper, over-extended Christmas lists and over-swiped credit cards.
In the midst of sending greetings, planning meals and buying gifts, the church is also preparing — but in a different way.
Advent starts Sunday, Nov. 30, and extends to Christmas Eve. It’s a time of waiting, pregnant with excited anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Rather being about stress, the season is really about silence and prayerful preparation for the Christmas feast.
Here are six ideas to help keep Advent in your heart as you ready your house for Christmas. 1 Light the Advent candles
Place your Advent candles in a prominent spot such as on your dinner table, coffee table or fireplace mantle — a place where you will see them regularly and be reminded of the season.
After Mass each week, light the candles with family or friends. Say the Lord’s Prayer, reread the Sunday Gospel or find an Advent prayer ritual online. (Take time to prepare for the miracle of Christmas)
Leave the candle burning throughout the day — and at other times during the week — to remind you of your prayer. 2 Keep an Advent calendar
It’s not just for kids! The Advent calendar originated with German Lutherans, but has been adopted by Catholics as a traditional way to mark the days until Christmas. Although they vary in shapes and sizes, the calendars usually have small doors or drawers that open to reveal a holy image, Scripture verse or piece of candy.
Starting Dec. 1, the calendars count down the days until Christmas and remind both young and old that Advent is a time of waiting.
Although you likely will have to visit a religious goods store to find a religiously themed Advent calendar, they are also widely available at retailers like >6 Make time for silence
Making time for silence is the most simple but likely the most difficult part of Advent. It’s also the most important. Find a time to daily clear your head and spend time — even five minutes — in silent prayer. It may be helpful to visit a church or an adoration chapel on your way to work. Or wake up 10 minutes earlier, light a candle and read from the Psalms or Luke 1.
Prayer is the key to Advent; every other Advent ritual is designed to lead you to it. That way, when Christmas arrives, both your home and your heart will be ready.