Why do Catholics Celebrate Advent?
Have you ever wanted something so badly that it’s all you can think about?
Like, for instance, a vacation.
Picture this… You’re in college, it’s February and you and your best friend just booked a cruise for spring break in March. You make a countdown on your apartment dry erase board, send each other different bathing suits you want to buy online, create Pinterest boards of different outfits you hope to replicate, and create a shared playlist that you listen to nonstop. Until finally, it’s here. And you couldn’t be more excited.
Here’s another example:
You just found out you’re pregnant for the first time. You find out you're pregnant, and you anticipate every part of meeting your baby face to face. You call your loved ones, create the perfect nursery in your head and instantly start shopping to make that dream become a reality. You’re buying clothes for them, preparing your home, eating for your baby, praying for your baby, and pretty much always thinking about your baby.
And then they come, and your joy is inexplicable.
This is the waiting that the people of Israel long awaited when they hoped for their Messiah to come.
This is why the Catholic Church started celebrating Advent.
You have probably heard the phrase “Advent is a season of waiting” a few times in the Catholic Church. But have you put it in the perspective that is similar to the previously stated examples?
Where the Messiah, Jesus’ birth is all you can think about as you await Christmas Day?
The Catholic Church celebrates Advent so that we can all be invited to recenter our priorities. To realize that our main longing in life should be to meet the Messiah, Jesus Christ, face to face one day. Because when your heart is focused on that one thing that you can’t stop thinking about, that thing is what you live for.
That’s why the Catholic Church’s celebration of Advent is so much different, than the worldly celebrations of Advent.
Right now the world is flooded with Advent calendars. Now, are Advent calendars bad? No. But they are interesting to observe. So many Advent calendars that I’ve seen this year are filled with daily jewelry, candles, chocolates, perfumes, coffee, popcorn, and all sorts of other treats. Now these calendars are FUN don’t get me wrong. There are so many that I’ve seen where I’m like, “Yup, get me one of those ASAP please and thank you.”
But what I find interesting as I thought about it is, these calendars just make us anticipate the material side of Christmas more and more. Anticipate what we might get for Christmas and what we might buy others for Christmas. This part of Christmas is obviously such a source of joy, tradition, family and so much more, and hear me clearly when I say that celebrating with gifts is a FANTASTIC thing. But please, please remember where our minds are supposed to be fully focused right now.
In His coming.
In His birth.
In the beauty of what we are to celebrate at the end of this month.
Emmanuel, God with us.