Editorial | Let’s embrace Advent

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After an intense national election season, we need a diversion.

We look forward to the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27.

Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.

The Advent preparation directs our hearts and minds to Christ's second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord's birth on Christmas. Advent is a time to give thanks for the blessings and, most importantly, to grow in our relationship with God; however, we must not allow ourselves to get lost in the culture this season.

Advent devotions, including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season. Daily activities and prayers will help prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, writing in his column in the Review last week, suggested that we work on tearing down walls that have grown up in our relationship with the Lord over the past year. Christmas, he stated, is a time of visitation, when the Lord comes into our hearts in a special way, just as He came into the world 2,000 years ago. "What small thing can we give up, or what small thing can we do, to prepare our hearts to recognize the time of our visitation — to welcome his presence and power when He comes?" Archbishop Carlson asked.

It's a good time to focus on random acts of kindness.

Parishes and minstries offer opportunities to take advantage of Advent. Pallottine Renewal Center and Mercy Center, for example, are offering a program on hope presented by Kathleen Geraty Davis. (Visit www.mercycenterstl.org or www.pallottinerenewal.org.)

The organizers of the program point out that Advent is a season to reflect on new life, new beginnings and renewed hope. The presentation helps answer the question: What does it mean to hope in a world that can overwhelm us with fear and doubt?

Archbishop Carlson reminds us that the season of Advent, and especially Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) is a powerful reminder that the reign of God, which is present now but still incomplete, is a reign of joy, a time of mercy and forgiveness, an experience of true peace and harmony among all members of God's family.

Advent, therefore, is a time of reflection and action. You can make good things happen. 

Random acts of kindness

Practicing acts of kindness should be something we do year-round. Here are some ways we can further open our hearts to Christ this Advent.

• Let a car merge in front of you and do it with a smile.

• Introduce yourself to neighbors and bring baked goods or sweets.

• Smile at people.

• Open the door for someone.

• Help someone with their bags or luggage

• Leave a nice note for your spouse.

• Write a letter to your parent or grandparent telling them how much you appreciated something they have done in the past.

• Pay for the coffee for the person behind you.

• Pick up litter and put it in a trash can.

• Get the paper towel ready for the next person to use in the restroom.

• Forgive yourself for mistakes you've made and promise to confess them in the sacrament of reconciliation.

• Give a generous tip to your waiter.

• Befriend a lonely person.

• Reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while.

• Let someone take your parking spot.

• Bring sweet treats to share at the office.

• Sit with someone who is eating alone.

• Tell your parents you love them and how much you appreciate everything they have done for you.

• Let someone go in front of you at the cashier.

• Donate clothes and shoes to the needy at St. Vincent de Paul.

• Clean up after someone in the lunchroom or cafeteria. 

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