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Make Advent meaningful

By Juliana Valdez

“He sent to say He will be coming. Prepare His way His path, make straight, Welcome your King, be ready for Him…”

These are some lyrics from a popular hymn we sing every year when we celebrate the season of Advent, a season when the Body of Christ on earth, the Church, is encouraged to prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord at Christmas.

It’s a time of waiting and every season we are reminded to separate the physical preparations from the spiritual preparations as we wait to “welcome our King”.

The reality, however, is that in spite of the urging, the main focus continues to be the painting, the decorating, shopping, baking, etc, taking precedence over all else.

While nothing is wrong with the physical preparations, after all it is traditional, the need to pay more attention to the spiritual preparations can never be over emphasised.

This year 2020, with all its COVID-19 restrictions, changes in so many areas of our existence have had to be made. Even in our Church activities, adjustments had to be made.

Numbers in attendance, seating arrangements, duration of services, new protocols in receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, face masks, sanitisers…It took some getting used to, but we are a resilient people and life goes on.

One of the coping mechanisms advocated from the onset of the COVID-19 restrictions for families who were literally forced to spend more time together, was the idea of family activities, which would facilitate friendship and bonding among family members.

A recent advertisement on EWTN recently, showed a mother and her young son chatting while she prepared his bed to tuck him in to sleep. He informed her that he had learnt to pray the rosary at school that day and asked her to pray it with him before he went to sleep.

She began to reply that she had things to do, but when she saw his crestfallen look and dejected demeanour, she changed her mind. His excitement was evident.

His father, sister and brother came by to say goodnight and were invited to join in. They too began to make excuses as to why they couldn’t, but with encouragement from the mom, they all joined in praying the rosary.

I thought, Advent, a time of waiting. What do we do while we wait?

Through the ad, I saw an opportunity for families to utilise this time to explore activities which would facilitate the spiritual preparations as we go through the season of Advent. Activities to facilitate knowledge, enlightenment, edification, and better understanding of why we wait and for whom we are waiting.

An Advent wreath, lighting of the candles, prayer, scripture reading, journalling (individually and as a family), projects to bring relief and cheer to others (as far as it can be allowed), song, dance, drama and so much more.

Our creativity as a people would serve us in good stead to come up with innovative ways to make this time a more meaningful one.

Like the members of the family in the ad, reluctance, even resistance may be displayed, but perseverance is the key. Setting aside specific time for these activities where all must participate will help.

Who knows, this might be a time when hidden talents are discovered! Of course, we embark with prayerful intercession for the success of the venture.

With the right preparation, the season of Advent will be a more meaningful time for us all.

Then we can sing with joy and expectation, “Come, Lord Jesus, come, Lord come. Open my eyes, open my mind, open my heart to peace and love.”