Enjoy Advent!

by James Martin, SJ

Only a saint could maintain the patience needed to confront Christmas shopping, Christmas stress, and Christmas credit card bills. That's too bad because something else gets overlooked in the rush—and that's Advent. So here are a few brief ways to enjoy yourself over the next few weeks.

First of all, get to know Advent. This liturgical season is a time of waiting—something that we all do: we're waiting for some good news, for a better job, or for our lives to improve. Advent is a time when we think about waiting for God, so it fits in perfectly with our natural human longings. “Come, thou long expected Jesus,” as the hymn goes. Advent is also the time of beautiful Scripture readings, like those from the Book of Isaiah. “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom.” These are readings to give all of us hope! And Advent is the season for beloved church traditions, including the Advent wreath, which can easily be translated into home rituals.

Second, cut back on the craziness of Christmas preparations. Here are just a few suggestions: send cards only to close friends and family; drop one present per person from your list; and go only to the most essential holiday gatherings. Does that sound selfish? It's just the opposite! It will give you time to spend with those you really love, and more time to spend in prayer.

Maybe Advent is when you can really settle into your spiritual life, by finding joy in the season and less stress in Christmas. In short, Advent may be the time that you've been waiting for!

James Martin, SJ

James Martin, SJ

James Martin, SJ, is associate editor of America magazine and a prolific author, writer, and editor.

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