It takes almost a Herculean commitment to really enter into the season of Advent well, and so it seems there needs to be a time of preparation for the 'season of preparation'.
November would be a good time to prepare for the season of Advent. Not just looking for the Advent wreath or Jesse Tree ornaments (as I remind myself now to go look for them!) or do a deep clean of the house and rid it of clutter, (yes, I really need to do that too!) but to spiritually prepare for the battle for the senses that will come bombarding in once the turkey leftovers are put away.
Amidst the worldly noise and distractions, there are even, at times, well intentioned religious themed events, like Christmas caroling and parties during Advent, that only add to the busyness of a season that would better be focused on fostering stillness and prayer.
Advent well spent would be an intentional time of quiet preparation with focused joyful anticipation for the most incredible moment in human history, when God becomes man, born of a woman, in the dead quiet of a piecing cold night.
Be distracted or exhausted with too many events and we miss how quietly and humbly Christ slips into time so He can dwell, unassumingly, on our side of the veil.
"Be still and know that I am God" [Ps 46:11 NAB] would be a great verse to mediate on daily or use as an examination of conscience.
If we have a hard time being still and quiet, what is it that robs us of our stillness, our inner peace? What do the intrusive thoughts that repeatedly barge in tell us about what preoccupies us? What is our interior clutter that we should get rid of? Often little addictions can run wild while seemingly undetected and may need to be confessed or dealt with in other deliberate ways.
The seemingly harmless preoccupations or addictions we let ourselves fall into, whether it's a compulsion to check smart phones, reaching for comfort foods or drink, addictive thinking or behaviors, constant activity... pick your poison of distraction, we all pretty much do all of these to varying degrees.
They only ultimately serve to distract us from some pain or void that we resist acknowledging and bringing to the light, so that we can let God heal and fill us with Himself. We often hear that God alone can truly satisfy us, yet why are we still so willing to be distracted?
It may be a lack of will to really dig deep and rid ourselves of the spiritual clutter. But in a way, we could also be unknowingly intoxicated on these cheap poisons, so much so that we don't even realize there is something better that will truly satisfy us and consequently don't give God the room to do His work.
Which is why I love Advent and the St. Andrew Christmas Novena so much!
Advent is a time set aside specifically to spiritually declutter and prepare to receive the Christ Child, and the poetic repetition of the Advent-long Christmas novena prayer drills that 'hour and moment' of His coming into the forefront of my mind. There's no guessing what I'm clearing the cobwebs out for.
Intentionally creating this focus and stillness in my daily life allows for more interior space for Christ to pierce through that veil, 'at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold' and enter more deeply into my life.
When I give Him more space in my interior life, He crowds out the need for those distracting poisons. I give Christ permission to reign when I give Him the space to do so.
Which is why it is so fitting that the last Sunday before Advent is the feast of Christ the King, a great preview and goal for Who to focus on during Advent.
We can also take as role models those who witnessed Christ's coming in person. The simple life of the poor shepherds sleeping in the field and keeping watch by night could see and hear uninhibited the angels message of the Savior's birth. Those who had extraordinary means, the Magi, traveled great distances to seek out the birth of a great King who was foretold by following the star. The key to finding the Christ Child is in the disposition of the heart as being free from clutter and oriented towards God, regardless of external means, as we see in both the shepherds and Wisemen.
Another reason why I love Advent so much is that it's essentially a mini retreat for refocusing on what our actual daily life is about, a joyful anticipation and preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Advent is in a way our everyday season of life. We just set aside a specific time of year to remind ourselves that we need to be ready to receive Christ when he comes again.
Let's be intentional then, and prepare for Advent with a commitment to fostering stillness, prayer, and removing clutter from our souls, so we can better hear the angels announcing the good news, that today for us, in the city of David is born a savior, who is Christ the Lord!
Learn more about the St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer that is prayed all Advent long and its meaning.
To purchase prayer cards or prayer beads for this novena visit the shop.
I find that there are usually two kinds of people, those who love this unique novena (that it's even their all-time favorite!) and those who have never heard of it. Would love to hear your experience!