This year, Advent starts on December 3rd. It’s the latest possible start, ironically leaving the shortest possible Advent season since the fourth week is less than a day. (The fourth week starts Sunday the 24th, but Christmas officially starts at sundown that day.)
So Much Waiting
Have you ever had to wait a long time for something or felt it would never happen?
Sometimes waiting is fun and we’re filled with excitement. A birthday party, a long-anticipated visit from a loved one, or a celebration…
But sometimes waiting is difficult and you become anxious for what may come. A diagnosis, bad news, rejection…
God knows the pains and joys of waiting. He’s watched Israel wait for centuries as signs and prophets guided them. Isaiah spoke of Jesus’s coming many times, but still many lost faith. Throughout Church history, there are periods of waiting and for each period the faithful are thinned out.
Waiting is hard.
Advent in the Church
Our Church tradition gives us Advent in preparation for Christmas. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) tells us Advent starts the liturgical calendar. The word advent comes from the Latin ad-venire meaning “to come to.” It’s a time we recognize that Jesus is coming but is not yet here.
Priests wear purple vestments, a royal color for a king. The third Sunday is called Gaudette Sunday—meaning joy—and priests may wear rose instead. Each week, a new candle is lit on the Advent wreath signifying how close Christmas is. Everything is adorned with the colors of Advent until Christmas Eve Mass. All is in anticipation of the King of kings.
What Are We Waiting For?
Advent is a great time of reflection. We can wonder if we’re prepared for what’s to come or if we’re focusing on the right things. For the Church, we prepare for the coming of the King. But what might we be waiting for in our own lives?
Perhaps you’re waiting for the birth of a child. Parents prepare by gathering all the supplies needed for the new baby. There are diapers, bottles, little clothes, and a crib. There’s education for new parents and childcare for working parents.
Perhaps your waiting is not so joyful. It could be a difficult diagnosis or an upcoming surgery. Maybe there’s a job loss or you’re waiting for a call back from an interview.
Waiting can be stressful. No matter what we’re waiting for, we can prepare more than our homes. We can prepare our hearts and our faith.
Learning to Wait Through Advent
For this Advent, you will notice that we don’t just prepare for Christmas by buying presents and putting up decorations. We prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. The Church emphasizes this throughout Advent. We focus on hope, peace, joy, and love. (For more on that, check out Hallow’s Complete Advent Guide here.) We repent from sins to clean our souls and clear our hearts, not unlike cleaning your house before guests arrive. We anticipate the Lord’s arrival by preparing ourselves to receive His grace, mercy, and love.
So, how can we prepare ourselves for other waiting periods in life, not physically, but mentally and spiritually?
For joyful waiting, we can pray for goodness and give thanks to the Lord for His blessings. Praise is a wonderful way to pray! For anxious waiting, we can pray for patience, asking the Lord for grace and perseverance through stressful times.
Prepare Your Hearts
In all cases, we should prepare our hearts by confessing, going to Mass, and being fervent in prayer. There is no time in our lives that God doesn’t want to be present. Not one single moment. So, invite Him in. Go to Him in prayer through the Sacraments. Hear His Word and be present before Him at the altar.
Advent isn’t just about waiting, it’s about preparation. With faith, we can find hope, peace, joy, and love in our waiting periods of life.