By Katie Morroni
Each Advent over the last few years, I’ve read a book while preparing for Christmas. (Let’s be honest, I usually take a cue from Fr. Matt and read whatever he is reading or, as was the case last year, read a shorter and easier version of whatever he is reading — Part 1 and Part 2. Hey, we can’t all be scholars and experts!) These books have served as guides on the road to Christmas, sometimes helping me grow in an academic understanding of the faith, but more often, enriching my prayer life and personal relationship to Jesus. This practice started a few years ago when, as cliche as it may sound, I was looking to keep focused on the true meaning of Christmas amidst the hurried shopping season and all the noise and stress that sometimes comes with it.
My husband and I are preparing to welcome our first child, likely during Advent or Christmas, so everything feels different this year. When this first occurred to me, there was a brief temptation to think Christmas may need to take a back seat. But I quickly realized: this year I need Advent — and its stillness, holiness, prayerfulness, and preparation — more than ever. But more on that in a future post.
After seeing it promoted on Facebook, I decided to pre-order Scott Hahn’s new book, Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does). It was a bit impulsive, and I have never read one of his books before, but this title jumped out at me. I felt (and still feel) a strong sense that I am supposed to read this book this year. Perhaps that’s setting expectations a bit high, but I’m willing to follow through and see where the Holy Spirit may be leading.
Our baby’s expected due date is December 20th, but he or she arriving anytime between December 6th and January 3rd is considered normal — and we recognize that God may have other plans for this baby to greet the outside world sooner or later than that. With that in mind, I’m going to start reading Joy to the World later this week or next. I don’t want to rush the season or our little one’s birth! But ahead of this season of waiting, I feel called to slow down, to pray more deliberately, and to reflect on God’s graces in new ways. I don’t think the Lord will mind if I enter into the spirit of Advent a little early this year.
Do you have any Advent traditions? How do you try to grow in faith during this season? Any books you’d recommend to someone looking to deepen their Advent experience this year? How do you hope this Advent will be different or more fruitful than the last? To join our community’s conversation about Advent — only just beginning, of course — post a comment below, share your ideas on our Facebook page, or Tweet your thoughts to @catholichow with the hashtag #Advent.