Preparing to Prepare

But a sacred time of preparation awaits us, if only we prepare to prepare.

What will Advent hold for you this year? How will you draw nearer to the Infant in the manger? How will you draw nearer to the child in your home? How will you prepare your home and your heart so that you can throw wide your doors and invite in the traveler? What’s your vision?

The Church, in her wisdom, sets aside two seasons of the year for preparation. She invites us to contemplate, to pray, to seek the Lord and to purposefully prepare for the feasts that follow. Preparation is deliberate and thoughtful.

In stark contrast, the secular version of the days leading up to Christmas is one of hustle and bustle. And in the frenzied busyness, we lose our vision, if we ever had one at all. While Lent and Advent are but seasons in a year, all of childhood is a time of preparation. A child is born, after nine months of waiting, and we set about the very serious task of preparing him for adulthood. Is it a frenzied, busy rush to grow up, or is it a purposeful, deliberate journey to spiritual and emotional adulthood? Look closely at the child in your life. What is important — right now — for his growth as a human being? What can you do with the next four weeks to foster a true sense of the sacred and to enable that child to truly experience the birth of the Savior in his heart?

So often, whether in December or in ordinary time, we get swept along by the culture. We spend carpooling time listening to the news on the radio or chatting on a cell phone, missing golden opportunities for conversation with our young passengers. We spend dinnertime pushing the revolving door as family members scatter to important activities. We spend evenings and weekends furthering a career because our work is important and vital to society and to our own sense of self. Childhood is so brief. And we let it pass without giving it serious thought. Without our pondering and praying and articulating a vision, we let our opportunity to shape souls slip by. Like the hustle and bustle of the December, childhood takes on the rapid cadence of sports tournaments and dance practices, hurried mornings and frantic evenings, until one day, we collapse in an exhausted heap. We are surrounded, not by wrapped packages and lit trees on the morning of the feast, but by caps and gowns, suitcases and traveling trunks. The child is leaving. Did you spend the time scurrying or did you spend it singing lullabies?

Will you spend Advent flitting from packages to parties or will you do something meaningful? In this brief space between Thanksgiving and Advent, take some time to pray. Take some time to plan and to prepare. How can this time be a purposeful journey as a family? What is really, eternally important in the life of your child?

Perhaps you will choose to do together some of the wonderful traditional Advent activities found at the Domestic Church website or the Women for Faith and Family website. Or perhaps you will simply sit quietly with your child, every night from now until Christmas, as he drifts off to sleep, listening to him and sharing your heart with him. And when he’s finally sleeping, you might linger a moment more and ask God to show you how to bring your child ever closer every day to the crèche. Pray for the blessings of a peace-filled Advent.

Elizabeth Foss is a freelance writer from northern Virginia. Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss can be purchased at

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

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