Five ways to do Advent like a Catholic
The first Sunday of Advent is the Church’s new year, so here Philippa Martyr shares a few simple ways in which you can make this season a better preparation for Christmas.
Just stop. Stop scheduling Christmas parties, catch-ups, drinks, kids’ concerts, firework displays, shopping, baking, decorating, more baking, more shopping, and the million other things that crowd into this time. You don’t need to go to, or even do, all of these things, especially the ones you’re secretly dreading. I’m giving you permission – no, I’m giving you an ORDER – to choose instead just a very small selection of excellent ones. Maybe three things. Delete the rest from your diary and create some empty space there instead. You will thank me for this.
Go to Confession.
If you’re serious about your spiritual life, you should try to get to Confession at least once a month. A lot of us are just Christmas-and-Easter people, but you can do better. Look for a good examination of conscience – here’s one that I like. This will really help you to go to Confession this Advent.
Clean out your house.
Or even just your kitchen cupboards. Or your linen cupboard. Or your garage. We’ve created some blank space in the diary now (remember?), so you have the time. Sort stuff into ‘bin’, ‘donate’, and ‘keep’. This is a great time to donate any unwanted sellable things to your local church Christmas fêtes and fundraisers. If your local Catholic church doesn’t do this, then I bet the local Anglicans do (they throw a great church fête). You can also donate to charity shops before they close for the Christmas break. And if you think you’re too late, donate it anyway: charity shops always have a secret store of Christmas stuff out the back.
Go to daily Mass as often as you can.
Advent is beautiful, and it’s a great time to discover weekday Mass if you haven’t already. Weekday Masses are usually quieter than Sundays, reflective, peaceful, and a moment to step out of the rush, and breathe, and sit with God. You might not be able to do this every day. But even if it was just sometimes, I think you’ll find that you have more spring in your step, more energy, and more sense of purpose. God is never outdone in generosity.
Make your spiritual New Year’s Resolutions.
It’s the Church’s new liturgical year! So it’s a time for reviewing your spiritual life. Using a good examination of conscience and going to Confession are natural starters for this yeasty, fermenting process. What could you do better? Could you go to Confession once a month? Maybe get to more weekday Masses? I encourage people to download the Universalis app (very inexpensive) and start saying a bit of the Liturgy of the Hours every day. When I do this – and I am a terrible slacker – it always makes a huge difference to my daily life.