It’s beginning to look like " Advent?


Christmas music began playing in stores the day after Halloween. And after the Thanksgiving turkey was picked clean, we brought the Christmas decorations out of storage.

Despite the jingling bells and lights all alglow, it’s not Christmas.

Not to put a damper on all the festivities, but it’s nowhere near Christmas, except in marketing departments and stores everywhere.

According to the liturgical calendar, the Christmas season starts Dec. 25.

With all the festivities, rush, and bustle all around, it’s difficult to remember that this isn’t the Christmas season at all.

It’s Advent -- from the Latin ad-venire, “to come to.” It’s a time of preparation.

It’s not preparation for Christmas, exactly, although that’s part of it.

The celebration of Christ’s birth in the world, Christmas, is part of our life’s preparation, directing our hearts to Christ’s second coming.

Christmas, and Christ’s second coming, are things to look forward to with great joy.

Advent, in preparing us for both joyous events, is a time to go deeper, to look into our hearts and souls, and determine if we are on the right path.

Are we ready to welcome Christ -- into our hearts, homes, and lives?

As Christmas approaches, we clean, rearrange, and decorate. We agonize over choosing and wrapping just the right gifts. We scour magazines and online sources for new and inviting recipes.

This Advent season, slow down. Let’s take a different approach.

Let’s clean our hearts, souls, and minds of the things that distract us from a real relationship with God. Rearrange our lives to develop that relationship, and our relationships with others. Let’s decorate our hearts and lives with the true joy of being loved by God. Instead of agonizing over material gifts, spend time giving of ourselves in service to God and each other.

Don’t let the only Advent wreath you see be the one in church on Sunday. Create one at home, and take time each day to light the candles for each week, and read from the daily Mass readings. Find ways to more closely follow our Savior, who humbled Himself to take on our human likeness in His great love for us.

And that new and inviting holiday recipe?

Here’s one for happiness to cut and keep:

2 heaping cups of patience

1 heart, full of love

2 handfuls of generosity

Plenty of faith

1 handful of understanding

Dash of laughter

Generous sprinkle of kindness

Combine patience, love, and generosity with understanding. Add a dash of laughter and sprinkle generously with kindness. Add plenty of faith and mix well. Spread over a period of a lifetime. Serve everyone you meet.