One of the most exciting aspects of the journey toward the Catholic Church is a continual sense of discovery- meeting new friends in the saints, learning about ancient customs for the first time, and experiencing liturgies that haven’t been a part of your tradition before. Here’s what we asked our members and readers this week:
What new customs, decorations, or liturgies have you introduced into your celebration of the season of Advent since becoming Catholic?
Maybe you’ve begun observing the Feast of St Nicholas on Dec 6, started lighting an Advent wreath nightly as a family, or devoted yourself more closely to the readings from Mass leading up to Christmas- whatever it is, we’d love to hear from you! Here’s what some of our members and readers have to say on the topic:
“Since becoming Catholic, we celebrate Advent before Christmas instead of Christmas before Christmas. We treat it like Lent, a time of prayer and penance and privation. We hold off on the decorations (which is a great relief) and slowly bring everything out as the great day approaches. There is much more anticipation, and a much greater celebration (that lasts for 12 days) when the Christ child comes.”
Dale Alhquist, President, American Chesterton Society
“Since our confirmation, we’ve stretched out the season, letting our kids feel the full weight of the waiting. Each night before bedtime we light the appropriate candle(s) and read the mass readings for the day, closing with ‘Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.’ On the first Sunday of Advent we put out the garlands and stockings, The second Sunday we buy the tree. The third Sunday, we light and decorate the tree, and the fourth Sunday we put the presents under the tree. We want our kids to feel the building anticipation.”
Timothy Putnam, Host, Outside the Walls Radio Show
“I decorate for Christmas as late as I possibly can depending upon my work schedule and the actual day upon which Christmas falls. I find that I do not want Christmas encroaching upon my Advent now. It also means that I leave my Christmas things up far longer than I used to until the Feast of the Baptism in mid-January. Before this as a Protestant, I was so heartily sick of Christmas by January 1, I would take everything down that day.
I also do not bring out the Christ child for my Nativity Set until I come home from Midnight Mass when I then gently lay him in His cradle. This year for the month of December, I am praying to the Holy Spirit to come and prepare my heart and to fill me with His light in preparation for the Coming of the King!”
Jennie Fraser, CHNetwork Community Forum Moderator
“One thing that I only started doing after becoming Catholic was making a clear distinction between Advent and Christmas. It’s difficult, with so much of the world treating Advent like it IS Christmas, but I find that trying to be silent and really cultivate a spirit of hopeful anticipation bears a lot of fruit in my life. One of the obstacles to this, of course, is that there’s so much Christmas music, and so little Advent music, but recently the Benedictines of Mary put out an album called “Advent at Ephesus,” which I’ve thoroughly appreciated.”
Matt Swaim, Communications Coordinator, The Coming Home Network
“This is an interesting question for me because during the 25 years I was away from the Church and considered myself an atheist, I did not try to convert my family to that view, thinking I’d let them come to their own conclusions. So, our sons went to Catholic school and during Advent we would go to weekly Mass and also do all the usual secular things in preparation for Christmas, like decorating, shopping, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, and getting together with family and friends.
When I came back to Christ and the Catholic Church (the one that the rest of my family had never left), the outward actions of our Advent customs did not change that much, but inwardly they could not have changed more. No longer was I mere going through the motions. As trite as it might sound, Christ had literally been put back into Christmas for me and we could then, as a family, truly share the Advent experience together as a looking forward to the Christ who gives true meaning to all the joys of the Advent season.
Dr. Kevin Vost, author of “The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living“
Got a tradition, custom, or devotion from your Advent celebration that you’d like to add to the conversation? Please share in the comments below, and be sure to visit our Community Forum at chnetwork.org/forum!