My Faith Another Year, Another Advent by Avera Maria Santo Christmas Eve Mass, along with the Easter Vigil, is one of my favorite Masses of the entire liturgical year. There’s something about walking into a dimly lit Church the night before Christmas and preparing my heart to celebrate the birth of our Divine Savior. I have learned that the experience is made all the more special if I really begin preparing for Christmas during the season of Advent. After all, that’s what Advent is all about! So I thought I would share with you some tips I’ve gathered on how to make the most out of Advent, to have a spectacular, faith-filled Christmas Season! Clean House I know that we typically associate Lent with penance, but I encourage the act of “cleaning house” during Advent as well! Christmas time celebrates God coming to us in the form of a small child. God is drawing near to us, asking if we would make our hearts a home for Him. That said, we should want to make our hearts available for Christ to enter in! If it’s cluttered with the things of the world, Christ is going to be pretty cramped in there, if He’s able to fit at all. Advent is a great time to frequent the Sacraments, especially Confession so that Christ can abide with us in our own homes! Take up a Fast Again, I know that fasting is more commonly associated with Lent, but I find it to be a beautiful practice during Advent as well! From my own experience, I’ve found that a lot of what keeps me at bay from entering into a deeper relationship with Christ is my own selfishness; things that I want to do or don’t want to do. In fasting, we take up the practice of denying ourselves out of love for God. I have to remind myself often that God cannot fill me with Himself if I’m already full of myself, so by fasting, I’m able to weed some of that selfishness out to make more room for Christ in my heart. Dedicate More Time to Prayer Whether it’s praying the Rosary, reading more Scripture, doing a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament once a week, or simply spending five extra minutes a day in silent reflection, one of the best gifts that we can give to Christ is more of our time and attention. Above all, our Lord wants us to come to Him as we are, and just be with Him. Our prayers don’t have to be perfect — that isn’t the point of prayer. In prayer, we place ourselves in the presence of the Lord, coming to Him with our praises, our thanksgiving, and our intentions. We just have to put forth the effort to draw near to Him; ultimately that’s what He wants. Reflect on What It All Means We talk a lot about Christ how beautiful it is that Christ has come for the salvation of all, but in doing so, it can become something that’s just a reflex, something we talk about only out of habit. The mystery of the Incarnation is a huge deal. Every other world religion believes more or less in the search for God, and man ascending towards Heaven; Christians are the only ones that believe in God coming to us, even taking on our humanity to redeem us. Pondering these things in our heart can have a profound effect on how we approach the altar on Christmas day. For four weeks, we will have dove deeply into the richness of what this season celebrates, and what it all means for us as the ones Jesus came to save. The season of Advent is a beautiful time of anticipation and preparation. We who love God lie with our hearts wide open, waiting to receive Him Who became our Redeemer. I highly encourage you to enter into the beauty of this season and take full advantage of the time of preparation laid out for us by the Church. Christ is almost here, my friends! Stay awake, and be ready. To dive more deeply into the season of Advent, check out Messiah: Stories of Advent, available in the store today.