Prepare the Way of the Lord

As we finish the month of November, many people are already singing carols and setting up their Christmas trees. But before we celebrate Jesus' birth on December 25, the Church gives us four weeks to prepare during the season of Advent. Aware of how busy these days can be, we've come up with four suggestions -- based on the four pillars of Dominican life -- to help you make the most of this special season.

#1: Pray Before Meals
Set your Advent wreath in the middle of the dinner table and light the appropriate number of candles at the beginning of your meal. Invite each member of your family to share a special moment from the day, perhaps a blessing they experienced or a need they witnessed and responded to. Thank the Lord for the opportunity to come together and for all the graces Christ bestows upon us.

#2: Spend Time With Others
Instead of simply shopping for gifts, set aside time to spend with family and friends before the holiday. Bake cookies together, or host an evening to write Christmas cards. Invite your neighbors to an event at your local parish, such as a concert, potluck or penance service. All of our Dominican communities have activities planned, so find one near you, and see what they have to offer.

#3: Study and Celebrate the Lives of the Saints
Learn more about the Saints we celebrate during the season of Advent: Saint Nicholas (12/6), Saint Ambrose (12/7), the Blessed Virgin Mary [under her titles as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (12/8) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (12/12)], Saint Juan Diego (12/9), Saint Lucy (12/13) and Saint John of the Cross (12/14). Attend Mass on these days, especially December 8 (since it's a holy day of obligation), and discover how the faith of these holy individuals can help us to prepare the way of the Lord.

#4: Serve Those in Need
Advent is a season associated with giving, and during this time of year many people are in need. Most parishes set up a giving tree for the less fortunate, or take up collections of food and clothing for the homeless. Check the Sunday bulletin to see how you can help. It might be as easy as picking up a few more canned goods at the grocery store. And if you don’t have a lot of time, make a donation to your favorite charity or non-profit organization.

May the Lord bless you during this holy season of Advent, as you prepare for the celebration of Jesus' birth at Christmas.