Hopes for Liturgical Living: Advent

I started this little series of how I would like liturgical living in our home to look like because two years into marriage and the rich, unfailing rhythms and traditions that I always imagined would be an effortless part of our lives are haphazard at best but mostly non-existent.

It’s the first week of Advent and this season has proved to be no different so far. Last week I bought an Advent calendar from Trader’s Joe and…that’s all I’ve got. And even though it was cute and cheap, I really think we can do better than just a piece of chocolate per day till Christmas. Here we go:

Food

I’m all about doing simple, sort of penitential meals during this season. Avoiding eating out as much as possible. Toast without toppings for breakfast. Soups for dinner that can be batch cooked and eaten all week. Less meat and dairy and more legumes and vegetables. I don’t want to be feasted out by the time the actual feast begins.

Wear

In my previous liturgical living posts, I’ve written about how I like the idea of wearing darker, more subdued colors during penitential seasons and brighter, cheerier colors during festive seasons. I think this idea can work here without having to create two winter wardrobes. Just having neutral basics and then darker scarves and accessories during Advent and brighter ones during Christmas. This probably sounds ridiculously trivial, but these are just my imaginings for a life integrated with faith in every possible way.

Another thought is donating warm clothes to those in need. St. Martin of Tours’ feast day is in November, but the tale of him sharing his cloak with the freezing beggar is a fitting Advent story to tell children. (Fun fact though: in the early centuries of the Church, a period of forty days of fasting before Christmas was celebrated starting on November 12th, the day after St. Martin’s feast. It was called Quadrasegimi Sancti Martini–St. Martin’s Advent.)

Work

I want to spend the first two weeks deep cleaning, decluttering, making our home generally more peaceful and ready for Christmas. And then I really like the idea of spending Gaudete Sunday onward making salt dough and cinnamon ornaments, popcorn garlands, paper snowflakes, and so on and then putting them aside until Christmas eve. As Auntie Leila says, Advent is for making.

I also want to give extra encouragement of a spirit of charity within the family during this season. I’m still not sure about how to tread the line of gift giving between materialism and giving and receiving out of love, but I think a good place to start is emphasizing that doing good works in secret for family members (like making a sibling’s bed for them or helping out without being asked) is just as much if not more a gift as buying them a present.

Leisure

This one is huge for me since I have a terrible addiction to distractions that eat up my scant leisure time but I am trying to cut them out this Advent and for all Advents in the future to make more time for resting and for prayer.

For children, I really like the idea of a wrapping books and letting them open one a day as a countdown each day till Christmas. Elizabeth over at In the Heart of My Home has a master list of books to read with your children during this season.

It is also my one true wish (and has been for the last five years) that Joe and I will learn a Christmas carol duet on the piano. And it is another ardent wish of mine that all our family members will put on a Christmas talent revue for the entire family one day. So I really like the idea of preparing for the Twelve Days by learning Christmas carols to sing or play on an instrument; memorizing a Christmas poem; putting together a Christmas skit; so that we might share those gifts with one another and with the newborn King rather than putting all the focus on material gifts.

And as far as keeping Christmas carols at bay until the Christmas season goes, I’ve found it’s not much of an issue once you realize just how many good Advent carols there are.

Prayer

All the usual: as much of the divine office as will fit in our daily lives, daily rosary etc. but extra things for this season:

Obviously the Advent wreath with prayers and Scripture reading. I also like the idea of adding evening prayer in here, singing an Advent carol, doing this Advent litany, and for the Octave before Christmas, “The Golden Nights”, adding in the O Antiphons–but you know I’m always unrealistically ambitious.

Then there’s the thirty day St. Andrew novena. (Starts tomorrow! Alarm is set and ready on my phone because I’m the wooorst at keeping up novenas.)

And of course there are all the other feast days that break up the quiet of this season and stir up excitement for the coming Nativity. We have St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6th with treats in shoes and baking cookies over at the grandparents’ house. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. Every year on this day, I want to make ultimate Mexican comfort food: albondigas and Mexican wedding cookies which look like delicious little snowballs–both perfect for winter.  And then St. Lucy’s Day on December 13th with cinnamon buns in bed, cuccia for dinner, and hymns by candlelight.

Most of all, I want to make time for myself to spend in prayer and reflection. I just ordered the Blessed is She Advent journal and there are a host of good books to read during this season. This year at the very least I’m going to try to revisit St. Athanasius’ beautiful work, On the Incarnation.

….

Other things around the Internet that have been inspiring my Advent brainstorming:

A Simple Advent Plan from Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee
Catholic New Year Resolutions from Kaitlyn at Lily and Mama
All the advent links from Like Mother Like Daughter
December Liturgical Living from Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas

Happy Advent! Come, Lord Jesus!

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Hopes for Liturgical Living: Advent

9 thoughts on “Hopes for Liturgical Living: Advent

  1. Katherine Wojtyna says:

    Beautiful post as always! It made me especially happy when you mentioned St. Athanasius and On the Incarnation. It’s actually one of the items I’ve added to my advent prayers and I read 2 sections each night. Thank you for the great advent links! I’m always looking for inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Katherine! I read On the Incarnation freshman year in honors and was blown away by its beauty. I’ve been meaning to reread it ever since. Two sections a night sounds totally doable!

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  2. Wow, amazing! I will definetely go through your recommendations very carefully, thank you!
    I am trying to read more spiritual texts and pray more. I pray the Rosary and Chaplet of the Divine Mercy daily, but now I am trying to find time for being with God with my own words and with my silence.
    In my family we decorate the house for Christmas on Christmas Eve, so now I am going only to hang a green wreath with purple and pink ribbons and meditate over my Advent Calender with the Old Testament. There are two films and one book that helped me understand Christmas better during the past year and I am going to write about them on my blog this week (the book is from one of my favorite people on earth – pope Benedict XVI.).

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    1. “being with God with my own words and with my silence”–Yes!! I love the idea of decorating for Christmas on Christmas Eve. Because Christmas is so secular and commercialized in America, it’s normal to put your tree up the day after Thanksgiving if not before. But my mom grew up with putting the tree up on Christmas Eve and I love that! I can’t wait to hear about your film and book recommendations! ❤

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  3. The tree this is so tricky because we usually travel at Christmas so if we don’t get it well ahead we don’t get (our own) at all.

    We’ve done the wrapped Advent books two years now. The kids love it.

    We do the Salvation Army Giving Tree or whatever it’s called at church where you pick a kid to buy specific presents for. It’s so good and challenging for Pippin to pick out a truck or Legos for someone other than himself!

    You’ve thought about all this way more systematically than I have 🙂

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    1. Well I’m a dreamer not a doer so we’ll see how many ideas I actually incorporate into our life 😉 We have an advent wreath for the first time in our married lives so I’m already calling this year a success.

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