It is startling to think that there are only two more Sundays of Advent before Christmas! Time has been flying since we all returned home to Wexford from our various adventures over Thanksgiving break. Now that the new liturgical year is in full swing, we are busy with Advent Eucharistic meditations every Tuesday, reconciliation services, Christmas carol service rehearsals in the schools, recitals, concerts, meetings to prepare for events coming up in the new calendar year, and of course our usual obligations throughout the week, with Vigil Choir, Family Liturgy Group, and Folk Choir rounding out our weekends.
Because so much of our attention has been focused on preparing for Christmas liturgies and school concerts and the like, it is so easy for us to get caught up in our hectic schedules. We can forget to take a step back and really enter into the season of Advent in all its stillness, wonder, and anticipation. However, we have been trying! Our prayers each night together as a community have been marked by a new sense of something extraordinary—we darken the living room entirely, save but a few candles. Thus in our evening prayers, we become figures dimly lit by the flickering candlelight from our Advent wreath; liturgical music plays meditatively in the background as we write in our prayer journals, and the words of the gospels, the psalms, and the rosary complement the soft silence as we settle into this beautiful and mysterious season leading up to Christmas. Brigid surprised us all a few days ago by dreaming up an ingenious idea to bring us together in another way, through daily Advent scripture readings and small presents to unwrap as a community—some of the highlights so far have been a 1000-piece puzzle, snowflake window decorations, and our own little Advent calendar. Her gift to us has been so inspiring!
The commercial Christmas season may have begun even before Halloween here in Ireland and back home in the States, but for Teach Bhríde and the rest of the Church, we wait in a unique, countercultural, and joyful hope for the coming of our Savior. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas parties, concerts, and our daily work as witnesses of faith here in Ireland, I treasure this conscious effort to grow in faith, hope, and love, and meaningfully live out the season of Advent with my fellow community members.