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Making the most of the Advent season

Faith in the Home: living our Catholic faith each day

In our society, it seems there is no real Advent; there is only Christmas, which starts around the end of November and ends shortly after Christmas Day! For the Church, however, Advent comes first and is distinct from Christmas. Marriage & Family Life Co-ordinator, Antonia Braithwaite, explains more in a regular new column.

The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘arrival’, and just as Lent is a time of preparation for the joy of Easter, the weeks of Advent are an opportunity to prepare ourselves for Christmas.

We remember what happened on that first Christmas Day in Bethlehem, when God Himself was born as one of us, and we reflect on that future day when Jesus will come again at the end of time to judge us all. Advent is an opportunity to reflect on our lives, strengthen our virtues and work on our faults.

Many exterior preparations form part of Advent and help to create that atmosphere of joy and expectation: putting up Advent wreaths, lighting Advent candles, opening Advent calendars, putting up Nativity scenes, and so on. They impress upon us that we are awaiting something very special.

However, far more important during Advent is our interior preparation. We prepare our hearts and souls to be a more fitting home for our Lord, so that He can be born in a heart full of love for Him on Christmas Day.

Going to confession during Advent is a supreme way of cleaning out our ‘interior house’ and starting afresh. Prayer, too, is the rope that binds us to Our Lord. One traditional Catholic prayer that is prayed throughout Advent is the Christmas Anticipation Prayer below. Traditionally, it is prayed 15 times a day from November 30 to December 24 for a special intention. But even once a day for some of Advent is better than nothing at all!

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, [mention your request here] through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother.

For comments please contact  mflcoordinator@rcdea.org.uk