It’s that time of year again. My house is all lit up like a homing beacon for lost aircraft, my browser history is 99% Amazon.com, and Santa is watching my boys’ every move. It’s Christmas time! But it is also New Years. I’m not talking about January 1st. I’m talking about a new liturgical year that kicked off with Advent this past Sunday. It’s a time to not only prepare your traditional Christmas cookies, but also time to prepare a place in your heart and mind for Jesus. Let’s look at the five Joyful Mysteries of the rosary for ideas on how you can supersize your Advent.
#1. In the Annunciation, Mary accepts God’s plan for her. She said, maybe still afraid and confused, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). This Advent, meditate on what God is asking of you. You never know what God may ask of you or when. Advent is a great time to prepare a spot for Jesus Christ in your heart so that you’ll be able to show the same courage Mary showed when God comes knocking on your door.
#2. In the Visitation, Mary exercises God’s grace by helping her older cousin Elizabeth in her pregnancy. Advent is a time when we can prepare ourselves to best receive God’s grace through good works of kindness and charity. Remember that in helping others, we are recognizing Jesus in our brothers and sisters. When we comfort those less fortunate, we are comforting Jesus. In this season of preparation, make room for Jesus in this world and provide him the comfort, respect, and honor he deserves by providing others comfort, respect, and honor.
#3. In the Nativity, we see shepherds leaving their posts to give homage to the baby Jesus. Later, the wise men traveled far to honor him. Both these stories show that people were willing to drop everything and go through some hardship to see Jesus. In Advent, consider adding a few spiritual challenges like making sacrifices and fasting, receiving the sacraments especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and trying to attend extra Masses. The Christmas season is a fun time, but remember that is is also a spiritual time. Imagine how much more joyous Christmas will be if you not only prepared your house and completed your shopping list, but also kept a space for Jesus in your heart and mind by making small sacrifices for him.
#4. In the Presentation in the Temple, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph become one family in the eyes of God. This mimics how we have a physical birth but also a spiritual one through the Sacrament of Baptism. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, but the Holy Family was unified under God in the Presentation of Jesus. Advent is a good time to prepare a place in your heart for your family. I know many of us have strained relationships with our families, either immediate or extended. Maybe a family member has hurt you or you have hurt them. Make Advent a time for family unity and peace. Pray and meditate on how to best tear down any walls that separate you from your family. Not only will it bring peace to your soul, but it will make Christmas dinner so much less awkward.
#5. In the Finding of Jesus of the Temple, Mary and Joseph traveled for many days just assuming Jesus was with them we he really was not. This reminds me of the modern mindset that assumes we are close to Jesus no matter what we do. In preparing for Christmas this Advent, stop assuming and start examining. How central is Jesus in your life? Have you done anything that has moved you away from God’s grace that requires the healing power of the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Even if you don’t have any mortal sins on your conscience, ask yourself what you have done to honor Jesus. Advent is the start of a new liturgical year. So like a New Year’s resolution, Advent is a time to analyze where you are in your faith and make a spiritual resolution to improve it.
Need a little more help getting into the right spiritual mood this Advent? Try downloading my free rosary guide. Or purchase my rosary meditations book on Amazon.com. Heck, maybe all you need is a little coffee to wake you up. I have you covered.