I love the liturgical year and am always excited for a shift in seasons. Here are some resources/intentions that I am looking forward to praying with throughout the Advent season to prepare my heart for Christmas. Each year I choose a word for the liturgical year, which can shape my journey. This year, my word is deep. I am focusing on being intentional and careful with what I choose, as well as the relationships that I want to nurture. I kept that in mind as I selected among the many great options that are available.
Reflecting on which resources I want to use and then having a plan for when to incorporate them into my schedule, helps me to more faithfully integrate into my life. It is also beneficial to consider what will be happening in the bigger picture of our lives. The university where I work is on a quarter system, so the first two weeks of Advent will be the last week of the quarter and finals week, which can tend to be busier than typical weeks, but then I am on break for the rest of Advent. Even though I block out some space for work during that time, it is in general a slower pace. I am also keeping in mind that I recently shifted into the third trimester of pregnancy, so it is good timing to slow down, prioritizing space for prayer, quality time with family, and rest. Though I will have some general structure to my prayer life, I will also have flexibility to respond to how the season unfolds.
INITIAL INTENTIONS FOR MYSELF
5 am prayer time: I begin my day in prayer at 5 am so that I have space for silence before the rest of my family wakes up. I will use that time to pray through the Blessed is She daily Advent devotional, Maranatha. This appears to be a good fit as it will provide me with plenty to ponder in the silence of the morning. I chose to do this in place of what I have currently been doing (reading through the gospel of Luke), rather than an add on so that it will be more realistic and to allow me to enter more deeply into the prayer time and to avoid having it feel like a checklist.
Midday Rosary: I have prayed the Rosary regularly since 2015, but I have gone through seasons where I consistently pray daily and other seasons where I am more sporadic. This summer I was faithful with praying daily because it was paired with a daily walk; however, as we transitioned into the academic year for my girls, my daily walk routine slipped and with it the consistency with the Rosary. I have decided to strive to pray the Rosary daily at midday if I have not yet prayed it that day because I would like to be more consistent and it is more likely to happen if I have a plan for when to pray it.
Before Bed: I was only intending to have one main Advent resource (the Blessed is She devotional), but last week I heard Sr. Miriam talking about the Ascension resource that Fr. Mark Toups created in collaboration with her and Fr. Josh. I was drawn to the focus of this year’s being on the marriage of Mary and Joseph. Even though I was unsure whether I would be able to sustain praying through both resources, I decided to get it (along with the Advent prayer cards). I have been wanting to have an evening prayer routine, so I will try to incorporate it here. If it ends up feeling like I am trying to do too many different layers, I will pause and read it later in the year. I ordered this too late to have it for the start of Advent but look forward to receiving it this week. In the meantime, I will watch the video introduction for the week.
I am looking forward to having this structure of the start, middle, and end of my days to draw me back to focusing on prayer and preparation. Though not an official Advent intention, I always look forward to Mondays when a new Abiding Together podcast episode is released. I anticipate still being able to have space for this during Advent and am looking forward to their Under the Mantle of Mary series planned for Advent.
INITIAL INTENTIONS FOR MY FAMILY
As a family, we have our Advent wreath that we will light each night, and that is the only aspect that we will be doing as a whole family Advent experience. I like the idea of doing something more, such as a Jesse Tree; however, I am not sure how sustainable it would be in this season of life. Instead, it is an idea that I keep in the back of my mind for potential use in future years.
I purchased the Maranatha for Kids Advent Journal to pray through with my 7 year old. She has been doing online school this year. The option that we chose has not been overwhelming, and there has been space in the time that we blocked out for school in which we can layer this in. She is also preparing for First Reconciliation and First Communion this year, so I appreciate the additional one on one time to support her preparation and to help her to be more in tune with the significance of the liturgical year.
My teens and I just began the new liturgical year with Every Sacred Sunday Mass journals. We will read through and reflect on the readings for the weekend Saturday (or Friday evening) in preparation for Mass. This time together will support conversations about Advent and help us to reflect on how we can grow based on the scriptures.
A couple of years ago I bought a couple of stained glass nativity themed puzzles and have not yet completed one of them. This will be a casual activity throughout Advent without a set schedule or goal for completion. It is something that we can work on as individuals, one-on-one or small groups, allowing flexibility to spend time together with something Advent themed. Starting off, my teens and I began the puzzle this evening. As more pieces click into place, it will be more developmentally realistic for a couple of my younger girls to join in as a 1,000 piece puzzle will be mostly overwhelming for them in the earlier phases (but not impossible with some scaffolding). It will be tricky keeping our 2 year old away from it, but we set up a table in my bedroom, rather than at the kitchen table to at least help a little bit with that. We’ll see how that goes.
I appreciate that there are so many meaningful resources that can support my own growth and to aid me in walking alongside my family – pairing potential for faith development with quality time together.
Questions for Reflection:
- Which resources are you looking forward to this Advent?
- Which routines can you establish or adapt in order to have a plan for your intentions to fit into your life?
- What will be happening within the bigger picture of your life during the Advent season that might impact your intentions, including the tone and pace you want to set for the season?
- In which ways can you journey alongside others in order to have community play a role in your advent experience?
Copyright 2020 Amanda Villagómez // Photo by Amanda Villagómez