A Simple Advent

In the Keeping it Real department, I’m posting this photo of my physical Advent preparations thus far:

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On the dry-erase board just outside our kitchen, I posted this question earlier this week seeking ideas from my family about things we might do for Advent.

Sometimes, this dry-erase board works, but clearly sometimes it does not.

In case you are not a LOTR aficionado, and even if you are, what’s written below my question is the beginning of the alphabet written in Elvish.  Yes, someone has decided to teach herself Elvish.  Perhaps that’s what we could do for Advent?  I’m not sure.

However, I will say that while this constitutes the extent of my physical preparations so far, with just a few hours to go until Advent,  I have, in my defense, been pondering ways to keep this Advent simple.  Interior preparations have been percolating for some weeks.

When my children were small, the kids and I dearly loved The Donut Man.  We loved his television show that aired on EWTN, and I bought all the CDs, which we listened to over and over again; it’s one of the few CD series that I really didn’t mind having to listen to all.the.time.  I can’t recall all the songs we loved, but one song comes to mind.  (and why is it not on YouTube as a lyric video?)  It is: “No Room at the Inn,” and the lines that always got to me were, “No room at the inn, no room at the inn, but you will find room in my heart, dear Jesus.”  So along with “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “No Room at the Inn” is one of my Advent songs.

This year, what keeps coming up in prayer and in thought about Advent are two words: simple and service.  Rather than give things up, or work hard on getting the house ready for Christmas,  I believe I am called to be available to others, both in my family and outside it.

Here are some things from around the web I have found helpful in the past few days as my ideas for a simple Advent of service have taken shape:

“A Stress-Free Advent” from Like Mother, Like Daughter.  Take away:  “Nothing is more important right now than preparing our own heart and the hearts of those entrusted to us for the incredible gift of Christmas.”

Revisiting Bonnie Engstrom’s Advent Series at A Knotted Life.  I wrote the guest post called “Go with Your Strengths”  last year and it made me feel good again to see my own advice.  So the books will come out, and we will read them.  I also hope to get a chance to watch Bonnie’s new and charming video on Advent–she’s really telegenic, and I so enjoyed getting to watch her on All Saints traditions.

Advent by my friend Heather at the Behold website.  I love  the  ideas for making this season simple.  How could I have forgotten the St. Andrew Novena?  Normally a Facebook friend who is Scottish reminds us all about the novena, but I didn’t see this, so I was glad to have the reminder from Heather.  Here is that prayer, meant to be said 15 times per day starting today and going through Christmas eve:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Preparing at I Wonder Why.  The shrinky dink ornaments are a big hit at our house, and I need to plan to get these out.  Also, one of these years (but not this year) our family may be ready to do the St. Philip’s fast, especially considering my husband’s interest in Eastern Catholic traditions.

I just saw this post by Lisa Schmidt at The Practicing Catholic: Go Negative This Advent.  Yes.

In the spirit of going with my strengths, I submit a few recent releases that could be helpful to those looking for some Advent inspiration:

Unknown-2The Advent of Christ: Scripture Reflections to Prepare for Christmas by Edward Sri, the  popular author and professor.  In this volume, there is a simple yet substantial reflection for each day of Advent and the Christmas season.

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Advent and Christmas Wisdom from St. Augustine by Agnes Cunningham, SSCM.  Liguori has many books in this series based on the writings of various saints for both Advent and Lent.  Well-produced and edifying work.

978-1-61636-705-3

Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections by Diane M. Houdek. St. Francis is long associated with Advent and Christmas; lots of good stuff here.

What are you doing/not doing this Advent?