Advent Series: The Opportunity of Waiting
Waiting is a part of living out a Catholic faith. We’re all familiar with the long wait of Lent as we fast and sacrifice our way to Easter. What’s often lost is the wait involved with Christmas. During this time of year, it’s apparent that our culture has a hard time waiting for the season to come. Today, the Christmas rush begins sometime around the end of Halloween. But in the beginning, it was not so.
From the earliest years of Christianity, the Church began to set up a liturgical calendar to help Christians prepare and celebrate the holiest days of the year. It’s a beautiful expression of believers worshiping these holy days together as a universal Church.
Advent is, of course, the season that helps us prepare for Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin “adventus,” which means “the coming.” As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.”
While Advent is not a time of penance and fasting like Lent (though it once was, and it still is in the Orthodox Church), it is still a season of waiting and preparation, not of feasting and celebrating.
But our secular culture is often much stronger than our liturgical calendar. Oftentimes, we often go right ahead and celebrate Christmas early. We turn on the Christmas music in November. We make Christmas cookies in early December. We decorate the house as if Christmas is already here.
While this example is extreme, celebrating Christmas during Advent is a bit like eating meat on a Friday during Lent. It’s out of place, and it isn’t time yet. And amidst all of this early celebrating, we forget to wait. We fail to hear the wisdom of Church and live out the Advent season.
When I have conversations with people about Advent and Christmas, they often have many excuses. I love Christmas music so much! When I grew up, celebrating Christmas early was a part of my family’s tradition. I just can’t do it!
While some of these are understandable, I often laugh. Many times these are the same people who have made radical decisions for Jesus Christ about how they live their lives…and yet, they just can’t wait to celebrate Christmas.
Everyone has to find their own way to celebrate Advent well. Be sure to find how you will celebrate it. Here are some suggestions:
Do you like Christmas music? Listen to Advent music instead. (Here’s a playlist.)
Do you like decorating around the house? Put up Advent colors to remind you of the season.
Are you excited about Christmas? Read Scripture and books on Advent to get you ready for the season (like this one).
This year, decide to celebrate Advent before Christmas — because waiting makes the holiday sweeter.