CNS photo/Lisa A. Johnston, St. Louis Review

Speaking Out: Advent calls for the extraordinary

By  Paula Ducepec, Youth Speak News
  • December 11, 2019

Advent is such a busy time of the year that what the season is all about can sometimes get lost among all the out-of-the-ordinary things that have become part the countdown toward Christmas.

So, it’s good to step back a bit. It’s good to remember that Advent is not just about opening doors to chocolates starting 24 days before Christmas. It is also not the countdown for us to have our Christmas shopping done so that we do not come to parties empty-handed. 

Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning to arrive at, reach, be brought, come to or simply arrive. Advent is a time for preparation of the birth of Christ. It is the season of preparation for Christmas, the celebration of Christ’s coming. 

Preparing for something means doing something out of the ordinary because we are anticipating the coming of something extraordinary. 

There are some easy parts to preparing. We all start by making our homes cozy, putting up the decorations and the lights that make every corner bright. Maybe it’s by baking the fruit cakes that we plan to give away to our friends and families on Christmas day. Our family has a tradition of putting up the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree. These preparations can be hard work, but this is the easy part.

The more challenging part of the holiday preparations come in preparing ourselves. We must get in to the right mindset for these holy days so that we may fully embrace this season of giving. Certainly the decorating helps, creating a mood or an atmosphere of warmth and joy. 

We do such extraordinary preparations because we are anticipating an extraordinary event. And we need to extend those preparations beyond our own lives.

For example, for the majority of the year we spend most of our time acquiring things for ourselves. For Advent, we could instead be giving. 

We could start giving through monetary ways. 

That charity group you donated to once upon a time has now started e-mailing and dropping return envelopes through the mail, once again asking for a little help.

The local mission has started making announcements through the church bulletin about the goodie bags parishioners could fill up to give to our less-fortunate neighbours. A few necessary items such as toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste or socks could go a long way. 

And there are things other than money or material goods that we could give. For one, we could give time and energy to people outside our usual tight-knit circle of friends and family. We can give time to that person who has been seeking our attention but perhaps we have avoided. Think of the joy we can give if we paid closer attention to them, even just once. 

We can give our time and talk to that neighbour of ours who may have wronged us this year. They may have been trying to seek forgiveness from us but never found the courage and the words to express it. 

But we must all do this in this spirit of openness and kindness, with sincerity and honesty.

Charity can be given in the most conventional of ways such as volunteering our time at the local food bank or the local Out of the Cold shelters. Spending time with others may mean more to them than we can realize. 

It is the time for charity in that we do things without expecting anything in return. We do these things, not for money or our own pride, but for God’s desire in that we love one another. 

It is a gift that is hard to give: it takes more out of us, a preparation that will take a great amount of energy, will power and sincerity to achieve. 

(Ducepec, 21, is a Bachelor of Science undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Anthropology.)

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