By Erin Shoul ’16, Campus Minister
The day after Thanksgiving the Christmas season seems to begin, complete with decorated trees in every home, a constant flow of gingerbread cookies, and red and green EVERYTHING. Everyone gathers at night to watch ABC Family’s 25 ‘Til Christmas as they prepare for the busy traditions of Tree Trim and Christmas Liturgy to come.
We wait all year for these special traditions that bring us closer as a community and allow our bonds to be strengthened in love and cheer. It is a wonderful time full of special moments with family and silly Santa hats, reminding us to take a deep breath and slow down.
Despite these beloved moments, we tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Especially during this time of year we often hear sayings such as “Giving is the reason for the season” or everyone’s favorite Elf quote, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” These quotes are wonderful reminders of the spirit of season, but have they become just another way to go through the motions of the Holidays?
While the day after Thanksgiving may have kicked off what seems like a month of chaos, November 29th began the underestimated season of Advent. Advent is the most unappreciated of all the liturgical seasons, a time that we often write off as boring and just full of impatient waiting. This assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Advent is a time of joy. It is a time when we as Catholics get to wait for our beloved Savior with hope that God’s promise will be fulfilled. “It is all about being mindful that, ultimately, this is a season of joyful expectations for the most wonderful Gift of all, freely bestowed by a loving God, on all of us,” writes an editor of Our Sunday Visitor. God allows us the precious gift of time in this season. Time to be with family and friends, time to be with ourselves, and most importantly, time to prepare our hearts for Jesus.
It is easy to see the idea of preparing our hearts for Jesus as another abstract concept that is too difficult to even begin to tackle. This year the sophomore campus ministers are challenging the students of NDP to become secret agents. While the class of 2018 is not suggesting wearing all black and talking in code, they are calling the NDP community to tackle Advent with a new perspective. This year our chosen theme is Uncovering Christmas: A Mission of Kindness. Basically we are challenging ourselves to be agents of change. We are saying that even with our busy schedules, we are going to use this precious time to come closer to God.
This is my favorite season of the Liturgical year. Ordinary Time is associated with being, well ordinary. Lent is associated with restricting ourselves and “giving up” something. Easter is filled with eggs and the infamous bunny. Advent is unique. It is a time when instead of giving up something, we are called to actively be God’s hands and feet on Earth. We are to be instruments of the Lord, and that is pretty amazing.
We as Catholics are called to celebrate in this joyous season! As we take on small missions each day, we are slowly opening our hearts to God’s presence and thus his unending grace and joy. By doing small deeds every day, we are becoming more like Mary, a yes woman, who answered God’s call with a willing heart.
I challenge you to be open to God’s workings in each day of this season of preparation by taking the time to see the God winks in each day. By working toward our ultimate goal of uncovering Christmas, may we train our hearts to be on a mission to seek God.
For more daily challenges visit, http://bustedhalo.com/features/advent-calendar-2015, an online Advent calendar with modern quotes and examples of how we can see God in every day.