Advent begin and catch you off guard? Are you struggling to get into the spirit of the season because of work, responsibilities, and/or lack of time? If so, you’re not alone. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve seen so many people apologize and feel guilty for not “doing all the Catholic things” since the first Sunday of Advent. If you fall into that category, don’t despair! Even if you see this post with only a couple of days before Christmas, it’s not too late!
Here are nine easy ways to celebrate Advent even if you’re crunched for time, low on energy, or are struggling to get through the holidays.
1. Do the Christmas novena
If you missed out on doing the St. Andrew Christmas novena which goes from November 30th through December 24th, you get a second chance! A traditional novena lasts 9 days so you can still do a novena from December 16th through December 24th. There are lots of versions out there but they’re all generally short enough that you can find a couple of minutes to do it daily in the days leading up to Christmas.
2. Attend Las Posadas
If you are fortunate enough to live near a parish or in a Hispanic community that does las Posadas, I highly recommend attending them. If you have children or are a visual person, this is a great way to contemplate all the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph endured right before Jesus’ birth. It will bring their sacrifices and joys to life for those participating and watching them. Check your local Posadas event for possible COVID guidelines this year.
3. Make a crib for baby Jesus out of charitable acts
This one is especially fun when you have little ones in the house but even those young at heart can do it. It’s quite simple: use little pieces of paper to pad the manger (or crib) where you will place baby Jesus this Christmas. All you need to do is write your acts of kindness and charity on the pieces of paper (one act per paper) and try to build a comfortable resting place for our Savior. These acts will be gifts to the child Jesus that can be accumulated throughout the remaining Advent season.
4. Don’t set up the Nativity until Christmas Eve
Did you know it’s a tradition at some monasteries to not set up a nativity scene until Christmas Eve? True story! You can do the same if you really don’t have time to do much this season. On December 24th, you can carve out time to decorate the nativity and, bonus, if there are more than 2 of you, you can assign one person to read the nativity story aloud while putting the final touches to the scene.
5. Plan a meal for the child Jesus
Another idea for those with little ones: consider planning a special Christmas meal for the child Jesus. A couple of years ago a girl friend of mine had her little girl help her bake a birthday cake for baby Jesus. You can do the same and have your children help plan a special meal they think baby Jesus will like. Like the idea of the last minute nativity scene, someone can read the nativity story while enjoying the cake baked for baby Jesus.
6. Attend a Rorate Caeli Mass
As mentioned in a previous article, Rorate Caeli Masses are one of the most beautiful traditions we have in the Catholic faith. Most dioceses haven’t had these Masses celebrated yet so you still have time to find your nearest one. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like beginning your day in total darkness (save a little candlelight) and watching the sun slowly illuminating everything as you hear Scripture and hymns recalling the reason for the season.
7. Get a Christmas candle for Christmas Eve
There’s an Irish tradition of leaving a candle in the windowsill for the Holy Family to find their way to your home on Christmas Eve. The candle is typically white but I haven’t seen anything that says it can’t be a different color. If you can’t have a candle lit all night for safety reasons, you can also get yourself a battery-powered candle to use.
8. Get thee to the confessional
I cannot think of a better way to prepare yourself for the celebration of Jesus’s birth than going to confession. If it’s been a while since you’ve joined the No Sin Gang, you still have time to do so. What better gift for baby Jesus than welcoming him with your soul cleaned from the stains of sin? I’m pretty positive he’ll love it.
9. Saints name generator
Are you still feeling a little guilty about not doing more for Advent? Consider adopting a saint for the rest of the liturgical year, not just Advent. Every year, many of us use Jennifer Fulwiler’s Saints Name Generator to help us pick a saint for the liturgical year and/or secular calendar year. I can personally attest that I’ve gotten some random saints that have ended up being quite appropriate for the year in ways I would’ve never imagined.
These are just some ideas for last minute things you can still do during Advent. Do any of you have any additional ideas? Please feel free to share!
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