Most Americans think Christmas is the period of time beginning Thanksgiving day and leading up to December 25. Not surprisingly, the economic system fervantly pushes that belief, and this "Christmas season" is the stores' most profitable time of the year.
But, for the Church, Christmas BEGINS on December 25 and lasts until January 12, the day of the Lord's Baptism. Advent is the four Sundays preceeding December 25. Advent doesn't signify the coming of profits! It signifies the Coming of Our Lord.
- Advent marks the beginning the Church year (Western Churches). Purpose: 1) Prepare to worthily celebrate the Lord's Incarnation. 2) Make the soul a fitting abode for the Redeemer coming in the Eucharist and in Grace. 3) Prepare for the Lord's final coming as Judge, at death and at the world's end.
- The Eternal Word, who is outside of time, became Incarnate in time, thereby making all time sacred. In the season of Advent, we await the coming of Christ on all the levels which we experience time: in the past — as a babe in the stable of Bethlehem; in the present — as grace in our souls; and in the future — as the Judge at the end of time.
- The advent liturgy emphasizes gratitude for God's actions in our salvation; acts of faith such as almsgiving, penitence, and fasting; consideration of our Lord's birth and crucifixion; and prayers to the coming Judge to protect us from the enemy.
- During this time, the Church asks her people to be more aware of Christ's nearness, cast off the works of the world and darkness, praise our Lord and keep our minds and hearts on Him, and refrain from passing judgements.
- The most perfect way to embrace the spirit of Advent is to attend daily Mass and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. If this is not possible, try smaller goals, such as attending one extra mass during the week; praying the Saturday Evening Prayer with the family in preparation for Sunday; reading and discussing the readings of the Mass of the day with the family.
- The theme of advent is "Prepare ye the way of the Lord".