This week we begin our celebration of Advent. This time of year can bring to mind really great memories of childhood Christmases spent opening presents and visiting family. But it can also bring up memories that maybe you’d rather not have. Maybe a loved one died at this time of year or you experienced some other kind of negative emotion that you always associate with Advent and Christmas.
Personally, I have had mostly fond memories of Christmas. But if I didn’t, I could look to what we refer to as “the real meaning of Christmas,” God’s great gift to us in the incarnation of Jesus.
If we focus on that aspect of the season, on waiting in anticipation of the birth of Our Lord, then we can experience something new and positive each and every year. And even though most people think the year begins on January 1, the liturgical year begins in Advent. So it’s a great time to start fresh and to begin our conversion—our turning back—to Jesus again.
I love the season of Advent. I like the colors, the smells, the rituals, all the good things that come with it. And at the end, we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus. With all the festivities and commitments attached to the season of Advent and Christmas, I often forget that this is the beginning of a new year. I’ve always made New Year resolutions on January 1. I never really gave any thought to doing this in December. But I think I need to push up that date. As I reflect the quote St. Francis when he said: “Let us begin again, for until now we have done nothing,” it made me realize that Advent is the perfect time to “begin again.” This December, not January, is the best time to renew our commitment to Christ. Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year, can be a fresh start for each of us.
“Let us begin again, for until now we have done nothing.”
I suggest attending an Advent reconciliation service to start the year out right. And if you haven’t been in a while, no worries, it’s a new year! It’s a great time to draw closer to God and experience the goodness that surrounds us in the gift of his Incarnation. So get out your Advent wreath, your Jesse tree, and your nostalgic Christmas movies, whatever helps you feel the presence of love in your heart, and start the New Year out with God.