I'm a little out of the habit of blogging, I find; I don't think I've taken this long of a break in a while. Then, too, the segue from Thanksgiving into Advent has caught me off guard as usual; I still have four pink votives in my not-quite-Advent wreath, but hope to find some purple ones sometime before Christmas.
CORRECTION: After I typed the above, I went to do an Advent reading with the girls, and discovered two square lavender candles on my mantle. One leftover plum-colored votive from last year, and we're in business, albeit a little oddly!
Because I'm blogging so late, and because the news articles I want to digest and discuss are probably going to take a little more than the cursory glance I can give them now, I'd like to open this post up for a little Advent talk. Specifically, I'd like to ask three questions:
1. What Advent devotional practice are you most looking forward to this year, and why?
2. What personal struggle/habit are you trying to work on this Advent?
3. How do you try to balance the prayerful preparation of Advent with the world's hectic Christmas demands--some of which take place long before Christmas has even arrived?
Feel free to post anonymously on this one if you'd like.
I'll answer my own questions:
1. We're trying several new things this year, but the one I'm presently enthusiastic about involves the Advent readings I mentioned above. After going back and forth about various readings/meditations/etc. for Advent, I remembered that I'd been given a lovely book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel as a gift; the book, titled Behold, He Comes: Meditations on the Incarnation contains a short reading and prayer for every day of Advent, for every day of the Christmas season as well, and some "extras" and hymns in the back of the book. We always found it difficult to do a lengthy Scripture reading in the evening when we light the Advent wreath's candles; yet adding some special devotion in at the end of the day has always been an important part of how we mark a liturgical season, especially since the evening hours are the only times when Thad can join us. These simple reflections are exactly what we needed this year, as the girls are more than ready to take a more serious approach to Advent.
2. As readers know, I'm an inveterate night owl. That much is okay; some people find it easiest to function at 5 a.m.; others at 8 a.m.; others at 8 p.m.; and others at or even after midnight. In fact, I thought jokingly after Mass yesterday that yesterday's readings were almost a vindication of us night owls, with the cry to stay awake and remain vigilant as we wait for the Lord.
However, take one night owl, add Christmas shopping, baking, preparations, and stresses, and you end up with a recipe for disaster--or at least for a mom who is staring in disbelief at a clock which reads "3 a.m." more often than she'd like to admit. Therefore, the Lenten discipline I most want to work on is getting to bed at what reasonable people would call a decent-ish hour, even if earlybirds who are sound asleep by 9:30 p.m. shudder at the notion that midnight or so is a decent hour at all.
3. This one is a puzzler, to be sure, and I can't claim to have it all worked out yet. I know, for instance, that Thad will have various company-related "Christmas" activities during Advent. There will be other things that crop up through the month of December which will tend to put the focus solely on Christmas, and on secular Christmas activities, at that. And some things have to be done before the 25th arrives, if they are to be done at all.
I'm tending to think that the key is simplicity: to do a few things simply, instead of trying to do many things lavishly; to focus on what ought to be done instead of what can theoretically be done. But that's only the beginnings of an answer, and not a concrete one at all--so I'll be interested to see how others have dealt with this issue.
Anyone up for a little Advent talk?