Spiritual Preparation for Advent

Advent comes from the Latin “adventus” ad- ‘to’ + venire ‘come’ and means “coming”. During this season we prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s coming into our world to redeem us. There is no singularly important event than the Incarnation when God became man in the person Jesus Christ. We also use this time of Advent to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming which we await in longing and great expectation. The liturgical season of Advent recalls the salvation history of the past, reminds us of our present redemption that is being accomplished, and guides us as we look to the future coming of Christ.

There are many ways to spend the Advent season in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The best way is to do some spiritual exercises that will aid and deepen the understanding of this beautiful season.

One good exercise would be to study, pray for, and practice the virtues like humility and simplicity. These were exemplified in the Blessed Mother and this season is certainly a season that includes her.

Another practice, that would put the soul in the spirit of Advent while staying attuned to Holy Mother Church, would be to pray the Collects for the Sunday Masses during Advent while lighting the Advent wreath candles:

I. First Sunday of Advent. Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

II. Second Sunday of Advent. Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

III. Third Sunday of Advent. O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation, and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

IV. Fourth Sunday of Advent. Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

(taken from the USCCB website)

One more beautiful practice during Advent would be to meditate on the richness of the words found in the Preface that opens the Eucharistic Prayer during the Mass. Read each slowly, reflecting on the words and their meaning. Let these enrich your spiritual life.

The Preface that follows is said in the Mass from the first Sunday of Advent to December 16th:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.

For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.

And so, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, we sing the hymn of your glory, as without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord ….

This second Preface is said from December 17 to December 24:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.

For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him, the Virgin Mother longed for him with love beyond all telling, John the Baptist sang of his coming and proclaimed his presence when he came.

It is by his gift that already we rejoice at the mystery of his Nativity, so that he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise.

And so, with Angels and Archangels,  with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, we sing the hymn of your glory,  as without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy…

(Taken from the Roman Missal)

Night Prayer, also known as Compline, is said as the last prayer of the day. It is at this time that a brief examen of the day is also to take place. At the end of this prayer, there is a hymn to the Blessed Mother. The breviary lists several popular Marian hymns to choose from. During the Advent season is a good time for focusing on the Alma Redemptoris Mater which beautifully connects to the Incarnation theme and our need for a savior. This hymn can be recited until February 2nd (Candlemas).

Loving mother of the Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea, assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again. To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator, Yet remained a virgin after as before. You who received Gabriel’s joyful greeting, have pity on us poor sinners.