Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Loveliness of Advent
Advent begins this year on December 3. I always look forward to this season--the anticipation of the newborn Babe on Christmas, the cooler weather (at least in this hemisphere) which makes the house glow with warmth and hospitality, and the promise of new beginnings. After all, it's a new Liturgical Year...I can renew myself spiritually, make resolutions, and start from scratch.
In this season we prepare for Christ's coming in 3 ways:
1) Remembering the past in which Christ was born in the stable of Bethlehem on Christmas,
2) Meditating on His present coming in grace and in the Eucharist and
3) And making ready our souls for the future as Christ comes as the Judge at the end of time.
Advent is the Church's season that the liturgy easily unfolds for tangible customs, ideas, and traditions that incorporate all our senses that can help prepare our families spiritually for the birth of Christ. A short tour of the wonderful entries for this Advent Fair of Loveliness will also inspire you to also Prepare for Christmas....
....With Food for Thought
Kira at Showered With Grace provides a wonderful meditation on Advent in Preparing Our Hearts. She quotes from Caryll Houselander on the Living Bread that came down from heaven to Bethlehem (which means "House of Bread"), and preparing our hearts to receive that wondrous gift.
Elizabeth at Real Learning with her new wee one understands well the coming of a baby at Christmas, and provides much food for thought at the significance of the season. Stockings Hung with Care emphasizes the Loveliness of it all. A Breath of Heaven at Christmastime and Entertaining Angels: a look at genuine hospitality both give reminders that we must give of ourselves for others. It's not about "Decking the Halls" but taking time to savor the moment and giving of self to really provide hospitality.
...By Organizing and Prioritizing
This year I'm realizing that the key to Advent is to start preparing in October and November...the preparation turns off the panic and pressure prevalent in December. Mary Ellen created a whole blog dedicated to celebrating Christmas with that point in mind. O Night Divine is filled with all sorts of ideas and tips for organizing, plus loads more to enhance the season, with many guest writers who share their wisdom.
Margaret at Minnesota Mom realizes in "Pardon me, Sir, but have you seen my Advent?" that she has to shake the negative feelings for the over-commercialized season and reveals her plans on how to refocus on the preparation for Christmas. But no cream in the coffee? That might be too much for me!
Cay at her Cajun Cottage has found that organizing her Advent season was one of the best ideas. She shares a few of her plans for the season, including her reading and goodie bags, and a picture of her beautiful Advent table in 'Tis the Season to Get Ready.
Ruth at Just Another Day in Paradise is also prepared, and shares How Our Family Celebrates Advent, which includes Gifts for Baby Jesus, O Antiphon Activities, The Advent Wreath, The Nativity Scene, The Christ Candle and The Jesse Tree.
And Genevieve at The Good Within shows her beautiful Christmas notebook and some of her Advent traditions at Christmas At Home.
Cheryl at My Thoughtful Spot is PREPAREd. See how the Loveliness of Advent is illustrated in her home. I love the idea of the wrapped books for counting down the days.
...By Counting the Days
The Advent Calendar is one of the older beloved Advent traditions, with such a variety of presentations.
Leonie at Living Without School gives us a peek at all the Advent activities in their family in Loveliness of Advent including a sneak peek at what goes inside those pockets in her Advent calendar. It's a wonderful list of activities, but all quite doable and practical. No apologies for the premade gingerbread kit--I think it's a grand idea!
...By Focusing on the Roots
Another form of countdown is the Jesse Tree. This tradition helps us understand the prophecies, covenant, foretelling, and genealogy of the Messiah.
Alice's Cottage Blessings shared her brilliant idea for her Jesse Tree with Advent Cubes.
Mary G at St. Athanasius Academy did Variations on a Theme: Alice's Advent Blocks .... . She uses Alice's suggestions for the wooden blocks, but then takes the craft on her own and decorates a box to store the Advent memories.
Katherine shares her version of the Jesse Tree and here is Ruth's version.
...By Praying with the Ancient Liturgy of the Church
One of my favorite parts of Advent is the O Antiphon Days, seven antiphons that date back to the seventh or eighth century.
Alice's Advent Cubes included the "O Antiphons", and Katherine at A Living Education adapted the idea for her O Antiphon Houses, Part 1 and Part Two.
Marjorie at Lettres de mon Moulin realizes Advent is the time to "fling open every door" and prepare our hearts for our King's Christmas arrival. Opening every door is her family's theme this year. She found a fun craft using Altoid tins for the "O Antiphons" in Fling Open Every Door - An Altoid Advent.
Helen at Castle of the Immaculate has another twist to Alice and Katherine's O Antiphons. O Antiphon Activities.
....By Preparing the Manger
Straws in the Manger is beloved tradition especially for young children. My family did this tradition for many years.
Rebecca at A Gypsy Caravan shares her version of The Christ Child and the Manger. We have the same statue in our house, and I love the gesture of Baby Jesus' arms just reaching up and out to us.
...By Lighting the Darkness
Rebecca's Advent Log is a wonderful way of anticipating the Light of the World coming on Christmas.
Alice has a variation on the Advent Log with her A Christmas Caravan, put together by her handy husband.
And Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight creates her Advent Log from her birch branch, showing another unique Advent Wreath.
Jennifer S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen provides a nautical theme to her Advent Wreath. See the added ocean elements to the light at Loveliness of Advent.
...By Praying with the Communion of Saints
There are many feasts of saints during Advent, and invoking these saints to help us along our path will help us in our preparation for Christmas.
St. Nicholas is one of the more well-known feast days. I have some ideas on this saint Saint Nicholas: Part One Reading Materials and Part Two: Feastday Celebrations.
Katherine incorporates many saints with her Advent Trees and Feast Day Ornaments, another variation on a theme...I love this innovative use of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments.
And finally, long awaited by me, MaryM's new blog Our Domestic Church shares her Advent and Jesse Tree in Advent in Our Domestic Church. It's marvellous...and I can't wait for more!
Whew! I think that's all. Thank you for all the wonderful submissions! This was so wonderful to see how Advent is celebrated in your homes. What really inspires me is the uniqueness of each entry...even if it's the same tradition, each person puts their unique "stamp" in their Domestic Church. May you all have a blessed Advent!