Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus. Although we observe this holy season every year, the question remains baffling: How can we adequately prepare for our Messiah, for the Word made Flesh who came into the world to save us? It’s a tall order, and we know that even the best preparation is only a pittance compared to what Jesus has done and continues to do for us.
In the Catholic Church, we have the wonderful privilege of sharing a faith with our brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. As the Church has developed and grown in each region, beautiful traditions have arisen that glorify God in a way that represents the culture of that region. You’ve probably heard of Advent wreaths, Advent calendars, Christmas trees, and other similar traditions. But did you know about these practices of Catholics around the world?
We are a week and a half into Advent, and Christmas decorations are up all over, people are wishing one another a Merry Christmas, and it's widely agreed to be the "most wonderful time of the year". But is it? Certainly our anticipation for the coming of Jesus brings us hopeful joy, but is it the most wonderful time of the year?
Thin layers of ice have begun to appear in the morning and spindly branches are shivering in their new, leaf-less freedom. As November draws to a close, winter is making itself known. Though I usually resent this thief of precious daylight, I’ve been praying for the grace to welcome winter with joy. And as I reflect on the coming season, I’ve begun to see something beautiful about winter’s austerity.