Let me just say that I am honored to be writing along with a fabulous group of ladies and Sisters in Christ!
(See list of their blogs below to check out their Advent Traditions)
If you are anything like me, you might find yourself asking how you prepare a J.O.Y.ful Advent in the middle of the busyiest time of year? How do we find peace and the reason- for- the- season amidst all the things "to do?" These are the questions I ask myself every year, always looking to simplify the hustle and bustle yet also participate fully in the traditions of our Catholic Christian faith.
Advent Traditions...How did we begin?
For my husband and I, our deepest desires were to take the focus off of the commercialism of Christmas and create traditions for our family that centered around our faith. In the early stages of our parenthood, we sought to focus on the anticipation of Christ's birth as we journeyed closer to Him ourselves. Hence, this did not happen "overnight" for our family. About 12 years ago, I was a cradle Catholic coming coming back to the church and my husband was a new convert. We were "learning as we go," so to speak, about the many beautiful traditions of our faith that have been passed down over hundreds of years. In the throws of having children, we slowly dropped some secular traditions and adopted others that were more faith-filled and "do-able" while changing diapers and filling sippy cups. Transforming the secular to sacred came about one year at a time and the journey still continues!
Each year we aim to move closer to where we desire our family to be, one step at a time.
Regardless of the ways that we enhance our Advent, we've discovered that there is J.O.Y. to be found if we start by focusing our hearts in the right direction...
Shifting our focus (both heart and mind) is often half the battle!
~Beginning our Advent with "J.O.Y." brings much JOY in return~
Last year we decided to give baby Jesus a royal blanket since the kids felt bad that he was naked while we waited for the Magi to arrive! We crowned the little King of Kings on the Feast of the Epiphany when the 3 Wise Men made it to the manger.
As long as it is I, it is not He.
I read this neat passage from Father Maurice Zundel who was also Swiss philosopher and mystic. We will be talking about this passage during our Advent family huddle:
"I do not believe in God by forcing myself to believe in Him. I meet Him, that is all I can say. When the "I" is not there, He is. It is as simple, as day-to-day, as evident as that. Hence, we must search in that direction. We will find God, the true one, only in this liberation of our selves. As long as it is I, it is not He.
When it is He, then He is really there...."
This is a constant battle in my own selfish nature but it's one worth taking on each and every day. Advent is the perfect time to make this a priority.
that I look forward to...
We try to hunker down more than usual during Advent, making more time for family and personal prayer...And keep the television to a bare minimum, if not completely off. Sadly the kid channels are the worst for promoting greed.... The constant commercials, advertising the latest toy, sends my littlest ones into an "I want" frenzy. It's wicked, I tell you!
I bought this Matthew Kelly book for my husband.
We enjoy reading about this saintly man each year! If you have never visited the St. Nicholas Center, be sure to do it...Everything you'd want to know is there! I always buy the neatest holy cards there each year.
After Mass, we enjoy bringing flowers to Our Lady on this special day:)
Like other families, we try to eat white foods all day in honor or Mary's purity. Catholic Cuisine always has great ideas:)
Lacy's coloring page for the Immaculate Conception is my favorite!
Patroness of the Americas
A new Advent tradition!
This will be our first year celebrating this feast day, other than reading about it. Back in January, we picked St. Lucy, via the Saint Generator, as our family Patron Saint to guide us through our year. We like to think that she actually chose us! Hence some new traditions are forming this year to be posted later:)
This is the liturgical folder that we made earlier in the year to learn more about St. Lucy. Gardenia from My Little Flower was the inspiration for the folder!
I love the St. Lucy resources from Paper Dali, O Night Divine and Catholic Icing.
I have this planned to bake!
You can even add a simple cross to your Christmas wreath to transform the secular to sacred.
If you can't get out for a concert, I highly recommend this beautiful CD...It's my new favorite!
Doesn't everyone love Christmas books?
I love to "ideally" follow Jessica's list by day since we have many of the same books!
Please don't feel bad about what you are not doing but rejoice in what you are doing and dream of the possibilities:)
We start each day anew, just like we do every day...seeking to know, love and serve the little child who is the Messiah, our God and Savior.