For many of us, this final week of Advent before Christmas is the most hectic of the year. Between office Christmas parties and "holiday" pageants at our children's schools, we're baking Christmas cookies and trying to squeeze in some last-minute shopping. And in the process, our nerves get frazzled, and we lose sight of what Christmas really means.
The tension and the stress and the frenetic pace, however, make this the perfect time to stop, take a deep breath, and take stock of our souls. Setting aside a few minutes here and there throughout the day to concentrate on Christ will not only help us prepare to celebrate Christmas with greater joy, but bring us peace right now, when we need it most.
We can't, of course, do everything that we might like to do, but here are a few ideas to consider:
- Start each day this week with a Morning Offering
- Pause at noon to make an Act of Spiritual Communion (or, better yet, stop in at a church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, even for just a minute or two)
- If you can get away, attend daily Mass
- Stop at 6 P.M. to recite the Angelus
- Sit the whole family down to dinner together, and pray both the Grace Before Meals and the Grace After Meals
- Light the Advent wreath, and pray the Advent Wreath Prayer for the Third Week of Advent or the Advent Wreath Prayer for the Fourth Week of Advent (depending on the day)
- End your meal, or your day, with the Advent Scripture readings for December 17 through December 24
- And, of course, try to go to Confession
Don't worry about not having enough time. If you take the time to remember that Christ is the reason, not only for Christmas, but for the Advent season, you'll find that you'll have more than enough time--you'll have eternity.
(Detail of a Fontanini Nativity scene during Advent, before the Christ Child is placed in the manger on Christmas Eve. Photo © Amy J. Richert)