Advent is a beautiful season, designed to be a special time of simple preparation for the great feast of Christmas.
Sometimes we can overcomplicate things, especially when it comes to our preparations for Christmas. It can be tempting to go over the top, which can leave us feeling exhausted from everything we try to do.
Furthermore, our consumerist culture can often drive our Advent time, leaving little to no room for reflection.
The Church urges us instead to use Advent as a time for “joyous simplicity.”
This spiritual theme is detailed in the Vatican’s Directory on popular piety and the liturgy.
Popular piety, because of its intuitive understanding of the Christian mystery, can contribute effectively to the conservation of many of the values of Advent, which are not infrequently threatened by the commercialization of Christmas and consumer superficiality.
Popular piety perceives that it is impossible to celebrate the Lord’s birth except in an atmosphere of sobriety and joyous simplicity and of concern for the poor and [marginalized]. The expectation of the Lord’s birth makes us sensitive to the value of life and the duties to respect and defend it from conception. Popular piety intuitively understands that it is not possible coherently to celebrate the birth of him “who saves his people from their sins” without some effort to overcome sin in one’s own life, while waiting vigilantly for Him who will return at the end of time.
The Church recognizes the threat of commercialization and the general “busyness” of Advent. It is no longer a time of quiet expectation, but one of last-minute buying of presents.
If you do anything this Advent, delay putting up Christmas decorations and try to remind yourself of the simplicity of this season. Reserve a special place for your Advent wreath and Christmas creche. Other than those items (and maybe a Jesse Tree), try to limit your activities in Advent and make more time for prayer and meditation.
Above all things, slow down! Advent is a joyous season if we can take the time to observe it in a spirit of simplicity.