It’s almost the new year! While we still have several weeks left of 2017, the current liturgical year will be ending soon. On December 3, 2017, Advent begins-and with it comes the new liturgical year.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but Advent usually catches me off guard. I know that it will come, but I often become preoccupied with falltime activities and Thanksgiving festivities, and suddenly find myself scrambling for peace and order as the strains of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” fill churches across the country. In these final weeks of this liturgical year, now — before the hustle and bustle of holidays begins — is a fantastic time to purposefully think about how we will begin the new year.
1. Pick an Advent devotional and begin Christmas shopping.
Perhaps our Advent devotionals are packed away in a box somewhere and we need to dig them out, or maybe we don’t have any we want to use this year. Now is a great time to unpack those prayer guides, or to ask our friends for recommendations and research various options. Then, when December comes, we will be ready to prayerfully enter Advent. This is also a great time to start making gift lists and purchasing Christmas presents, so that instead of spending December preoccupied or stressed out as we put together gifts, we will have at least some of it already done.
2. Begin creating a New Year’s Resolution.
While it may be popular to create resolutions at the start of a new calendar year, why not craft a spiritual-focused resolution to coincide with the liturgical year? If there’s a specific book of spiritual reading you want to go through, but you’ve never gotten around to it, you could make a resolution to read it during the coming liturgical year. You could also commit to learning about a devotion or practice that you’re ignorant of, or you could resolve to consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin if you haven’t already done so. Making these resolutions is a great way to hold yourself accountable as you take specific steps towards spiritual growth.
3. Learn about an Advent tradition that you’re unfamiliar with.
It’s easy to get settled into a comfortable, familiar routine of our favored Advent practices. While it’s nice to have these reliable traditions every year, there is also value in exploring the rich universality of the Catholic Church. From public celebrations like Bambinelli Sunday and Las Posadas to feast days like Our Lady of Loreto and St. Lucy, there is a tremendous amount of diversity and beauty to be explored within this liturgical season. Bravely venture out of your comfort zone and discover some of these amazing traditions — you may even find a practice that you will continue to observe in the years to come!
Even though it’s easy to procrastinate when it comes to Advent preparations (it can seem a lot more tempting to think about how much turkey we’ll soon eat on Thanksgiving!), it is important to prayerfully begin our preparations for the coming season now. Hopefully, if we enter the new liturgical year with preparation and peace, we’ll be able to better embrace the spiritual journey of Advent as we look to the birth of Our Lord.
Copyright 2017 AnneMarie Miller