It’s time for another post on observing the Liturgical year from the new Catholic on the
block blog! Yes, it is on Advent… I’m so behind. This year, I have learned so much and yet it seems like so little in the grand scheme of things. I have so much more to learn about my faith, but I wanted to share a little bit of what I did learn with all of these first experiences!
Growing up, I always heard about something called, “advent,” but other than knowing the word, that there were purple candles, a wreath and knowing that it was a privilege (at least in the mind of “child me”) to be the one to light the candles at night, I did not know what it was or why it was. Honestly, I don’t think I even understood what it was until about three years ago, when I was dating my husband and attending Mass with him. As I learned about it, I was intrigued with the idea of “preparing for our Savior” just before Christmas. A whole season to prepare, to wait (just like those who waited for the Savior’s actual birth), to anticipate, and most importantly, to pray!
Although I discovered the meaning of Advent a few years ago, I never took part in observing it. I believe it was mainly due to the fact that I was struggling with having the courage I needed to come out and say that I wanted to convert to Catholicism… It was all that I could do to explain to family that I was going to be attending Mass on Sundays instead of the church I was previously attending with them. Still living in the boat, I was much too afraid to rock it. While I knew that many protestants celebrated Advent (just as I did as a child), I had no idea how to observe it. To cut a long story short, this is the first year that I have observed and understood in full what it is all about.
Daniel and I began our observance by nightly prayer (something we had neglected to do together for many months), and for the first time, praying Saint Andrew’s Christmas Novena. We immediately felt the effects of our prayer and we were on our way to arguing less, spending more time together, and attending more daily Masses! We agreed that no matter what happened, we needed to continue praying together at night (and we are still working on it!). Onward we went into the Advent season and started incorporating traditions into our own little family. I picked up a wreath and candles, we learned about its symbolism and history, we read together each night, and prayed longer than our little candles wanted to hold out! I will admit, the first time we sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” together, I felt a bit awkward (I’ve always been a shy singer), but the more times we sang, the more excited we became. The more I looked forward after a long day of tiring work to our celebration and preparation each night. In fact, singing as we lit our candles became so important to me in particular that I refused to rest my voice in the midst of the flu! We even tried it in Latin a few times.
Towards the end of Advent and the nearing of Christmas, Daniel and I traveled to see our families and of course, that meant that I needed to take off for work. I took off more than I needed to, and when it looked like we were going to struggle with finances for the month of December (despite of our simple gift giving this year) Daniel and I did something we don’t normally do in that situation. We prayed. We asked for Peace and thanked God for the ability to celebrate the season together.
Celebrating Advent helped Daniel and I to grow closer together and to especially grow closer to God. It affected our relationships with friends, coworkers, changed our perspective… The constant state of prayer was so good for us and God did something amazing at the end of it. In a month where we were not even supposed to make rent, our monthly income was doubled! We came out of Advent with enough to put away into savings, buy healthy groceries, AND make rent! I was even given a wonderful raise at work to come into effect the next month. The only thing that we did differently was our prayer and meditation on the Lord. He not only provided for us in our current time, He provided for our future finances as well! (And that was not the first time God has blessed our time with Him more than we deserved!)
Daniel and I were moved to tears of joy at His blessings and tears of repentance at not being with Him sooner or giving him the adoration and time He so clearly deserves!
We experienced a few traditions we will continue in years to come, such as nightly devotions around the wreath, singing together to Him, waiting to put up our Christmas tree, choosing to hold off on the Christmas tunes until Christmas, but the greatest and most meaningful tradition we will keep is praying through the Advent season in expectation and adoration.