Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas. From a physical standpoint, we prepare for Christmas with decorating, baking, purchasing and wrapping gifts. But how do we spiritually prepare for Christmas? Do we just pray more? Do we pray different prayers?
As with any preparation, the first thing we need to do is make an account of what we have and what we need. Translating that into spiritual terms becomes more than just an examination of conscience, which typically focuses on where we fall short of God’s will for us. However, examining our conscience and going to confession is a great way to clear the clutter and the spiritual baggage we have, so that we can proceed with our preparations.
It is fortunate for us that Advent begins the new liturgical year at the end of our calendar year. This juxtaposition encourages us to review the calendar year that has past so that we can ask ourselves:
- What have we learned about Jesus this year?
- How has our relationship with Him changed?
- Has it grown colder, warmer, or stayed the same?
- What is the quality of the time we spend with Jesus?
Like any relationship, we need to spend time with God and practice doing His will. We will not always succeed, but reflecting on a calendar year of moments and activities can help us see the direction in which our relationship with Him is going. Often it’s in reflection of events over a period of time that we can see the hand of God in our lives, and how He is actively working with us daily!
Advent is almost four weeks of reflection, not a once and done thing to check off the list. It’s an opportunity to look at our daily tasks, both spiritually and physically, and determine how we can better praise God with what we are doing, asking Him to show us areas where we can grow closer to Him. As we reflect, we may also see areas of where God is calling us closer and where we’ve resisted that call. It’s these challenges to our faith that identify where we need to focus in the new calendar year.
With clean souls, acknowledgement of God’s work in the calendar year coming to completion, and riding the wave of openness to the direction of growth in our relationship with Him in the new year, we will soar rejoicing in the Christ Child’s coming on Christmas day.