By FATHER DOMINIC VAHLING
Special to Catholic Times
Rejoice! This word echoes throughout our churches and in our hearts as we sing the Advent song, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Follow these 10 tips for a more joyful Advent.
- Don’t miss the season — Stores and radio stations have been playing Christmas music since Nov. 26, but Advent should not be skipped. Advent increases our desire and longing for the coming of the Savior.
- Listen to Advent music — We have a rich tradition of Advent hymnody. Look up songs such as, O, Come Divine Messiah, On Jordan’s Bank, Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, and Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding. You might find a new favorite Advent hymn!
- Light an Advent wreath — Your church probably has one of these in the sanctuary, and your domestic church should too! Lighting the Advent wreath as a family can be a visual reminder of the passing of the four weeks.
- Make a Jesse Tree — The genealogy of Jesus may not be your favorite Christmas Gospel, but it could be. Jesse Trees are a way to learn about Jesus’ family tree, and all the ways in which God’s Providence led Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Bethlehem. Planning for the first Christmas started a long, long time ago.
- Pray the rosary — Advent may be the most Marian season of the year. Ask Mary to help you prepare for the coming of the Messiah, as she did at that first Christmas. How did she feel when there was no room at the inn?
- Attend Lessons and Carols at the Cathedral —Christians have a great tradition of immersing themselves in Scripture and music in the days before Christmas. Come to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. to hear some angelic voices accompanied by a harp in giving praise to God.
- Make a visitation — Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months while they were both pregnant. Do not allow the hustle and bustle to distract you from the need for quiet visits with grandparents, parents, or friends.
- Attend eucharistic adoration — Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which translates as “House of Bread.” Even in his birth, Jesus was preparing us to approach him under the form of bread. Spending time with Jesus is never a waste.
- Wait in line — The confession line, of course! If not already, you will soon be tired of waiting in line at the store. So, come wait in a better line, which leads to the forgiveness of sins and the peace that only God can give.
- Befriend your guardian angel — Angels announced the coming of the Messiah to Mary and the shepherds. They are God’s messengers. Ask your guardian angel to prepare your heart for Christmas, as their angelic brethren have done for so many others.
Father Dominic Vahling is parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield and co-chaplain at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield.