By Joyce Voss
Are you ready to celebrate the New Year? Not the one on December 31, but the one on November 28. It’s the start of the new Liturgical Year; the beginning of ADVENT.
How should these four weeks be spent? Automatically there is the focus on family and friends and gatherings and presents and…Nothing wrong with that, but there is more, and maybe that more is even more important. The Church provides this special season to help members prepare for the Savior’s birth. Additionally, it is also a time to think anew about Christ’s Second Coming.
Advent is a time of new beginnings. Along with our “holiday” preparation, it can be a time of personal spiritual renewal. It seems the perfect time to make some SPIRITUAL resolutions.
A recent study stated that the four most popular kinds of resolutions made by people for the secular New Year have to do with exercise, diet, weight and money. Six months into the year, 46% of those resolutions are still successful. Sadly, the other 54% are laying in the land of broken promises. The study further stated that the reason for failure is due to not being specific enough in forming the resolution.
So, what about spiritual resolutions that are made at the start of Advent? How can the advice to be specific be applied? Some areas to consider are prayer life, attention at Mass, a daily examination of conscience, or expanding acts of kindness, to name a few. By picking one of these or something else, how can that new resolution become specific?
For prayer life, for example, one could establish a regular time for daily prayer. If a rosary per day seems formidable, how about a sincere decade? Go to weekday Mass once a week. Sign up for a retreat. Ask for a book recommendation on the topic and read it.
For increasing your knowledge of your faith, attend a Bible Study. Regularly listen to a You Tube presentation by Father Barron, Father Mike or any other number of good religious speakers. Subscribe to a religious publication that has appeal and read it. Daily ask the Holy Spirit to assist you in this quest.
Small acts of kindness happen when awareness of others increases. Do not hesitate to give a friendly greeting, give encouragement or just be there. The idea is to develop a habit. Maybe there is an individual in your life that is a challenge. Again, ask the Holy Spirit to increase personal awareness, provide opportunities and most of all to rain down patience.
Charitable giving is another consideration. The mail continually brings financial pleas from religious organizations. Maybe it is time to make a donation plan. Choose to give regularly to certain causes. At the end of the year or another time frame, consider keeping those choices or choose others. Most cannot give to everything. Make some prayerful decisions on where to give.
To what end do we do any of this? These disciplines become acts of love. Make this Advent a time of real change. God loves us madly! How madly do we do the same? Always waiting to help, always willing to forgive, always there when we seek, is the God who loves us. It is so simple yet man makes it so hard. No true act of love is in vain.
May this Advent be among the best ones experienced. Then it will be a tremendous birthday gift to present on Christmas Day. It also conditions a Christian to meet the Lord at the ultimate ending moment.
A time of joyful anticipation is Advent, making all ready to sing out with the angels in jubilation, at the birth of the Savior. “Let every heart prepare him Room.”