It seems to happen earlier and earlier each year. Stores change out the Halloween costumes in order to make room for all the Christmas decorations. As soon as the jack-o-lantern buckets are full of candy, we better start making Christmas cookies — at least, that is what society tells us. But our Catholic understanding is very different. Advent is a time of preparation for the Christ Child. We should celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 and continue until the Baptism of Jesus, which we celebrate in 2024 on Sunday, Jan. 7.
This year, let’s be more intentional about waiting to celebrate Christmas at the proper time and preparing for Christmas through the season of Advent. Start by setting up your own Advent wreath at home. Partner that with an act of charity each week. With children, set up a crib scene and put straw in the crib when they do something good. Then, take out straw if they do something wrong.
“This can help them keep their thoughts on Christmas,” says Fr. Leo. “Everything they do is geared toward the incarnation.”
Fr. Leo admits it can be hard to observe Advent when everyone around us is already celebrating Christmas. The temptation is there to decorate outside when the weather is warmer.
“It can be a difficult season for Catholics,” he says. “Everyone is celebrating Christmas. As soon as Christmas Day is over, that is it.”
A weakness for Fr. Leo is not wanting to wait — he especially dislikes waiting in line. Most of us are like that. We live in a society where we can snap our fingers and get most things, from food to Amazon packages. But Advent teaches us to wait.
“Advent helps me practice waiting and reminds me of my weakness,” Fr. Leo says. “I need the Lord to help with that struggle.”
Advent is a great time to carry out Corporal Works of Mercy. Many don’t have the same blessings as we might. Each year, we have a Giving Wreath, where local organizations list their needs. We do our best as a parish to fill them — our contributions can be anything from clothing or socks to household items and toys.
“I’m proud of how we step up as a community to fill these needs,” Fr. Leo says.
We will also host a parish mission with Fr. Kolbe Wolniakowski, OSB, this year. He will preach at the Masses on Dec. 2 and 3 and host a mission at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 5 in the church. Childcare is available for children ages one and up. He will preach about Advent and the Eucharist. Fr. Kolbe Wolniakowski, OSB, is a Benedictine Monk and a priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.
The St. Peter School students will be celebrating spirit days by collecting money for our sister parishes in Haiti. Our fellow Catholics in Haiti are going through difficult times, and
Fr. Leo asks that we keep them in our prayers.
Join us at St. Peter’s as we celebrate Advent and Christmas together. Let’s take this season to truly prepare for the Christ Child!