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There Is No Need To Be Afraid…

“There is no need to be afraid; in five days our Lord will come to us.” 

(Canticle of Zechariah Antiphon, Morning Prayer, December 21)


We Catholics know a thing or two about Advent. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve experienced many Advents. We’ve got this.

But where Lent gets a lot of attention — “Gotta give something up… man, can’t wait for Easter!” — Advent sort of gets forgotten in the rush to prepare for Christmas. There are presents to be bought, decorations to be put up, cookies to be baked, and, in my house, Christmas movies that must be watched before the grace-period before Christmas is over and you have to wait until next year. Yet, in all the bustle and busyness in the name of Christmas prep, Advent sort of gets forgotten. And Christmas gets short-changed.

“There is no need to be afraid; in five days Our Lord will come to us.”

Christmas is an Event. With a capital E. A Celebration with a capital C. This is where it all began. With Christ’s Birth, He put wheels in motion to save all mankind from their sins.

But we know that, right? We grew up Catholic. We know we’re celebrating Christ’s birthday. This isn’t our first Christmas. What do you think we’re getting ready for?

Yes, we know the Christmas is Christ’s birthday. But in all the rush of the season added to everyday life, we don’t stop to appreciate what this means. Christ didn’t need to be born. He already Was and always will Be. This was gratis. He didn’t owe us a thing. And yet He accepted this awful, blessed degradation to take on the nature of His own creation to save it from itself. This Event we celebrate each year with such a blasé attitude isn’t just beautiful — it is amazing, it is awesome. It is an Event that needs to be counted down to, appreciated for its full worth.

But so often Advent slips us by, especially this year, when Christmas occurs so close to the fourth Sunday of Advent. And when Advent slips us by, so too does the full appreciation of Christmas.

“There is no need to be afraid; in five days Our Lord will come to us.”

In my family, we count down to our birthdays. They’re kind of a big deal. It’s frowned upon to buy things we want for ourselves a month or more in advance of the birthday and the actual celebration lasts at least a week. If not more. The celebration, when it happens, is big. There are presents, there is a special dinner at home, there’s a special dinner in a restaurant. That person is king or queen of the day/week. It is made all the better because of the anticipation leading up to the main event.

A birthday is a big deal. It is the day we first came into this world. It should be celebrated.

Christmas is one of the biggest events in human history. And Christ being born among us is the greatest gift, leading to opportunity of eternal happiness beyond this life. It is like a second birthday! It must be prepared for, appreciated, counted down to!

And just like the birthday seems so much sweeter after we deny ourselves those good things we want until our birthday, how much better would Christmas seem with a little bit of self-denial leading up to it? We are preparing for Christ’s coming! It’s more than a week of celebration! We celebrate Christmas for twelve days! Wow!

The present buying and wrapping, the Christmas cards, the cookie baking, the decorating — these things are all good. But don’t forget Advent in the midst of the bustle. Give up a little something. Or do something extra… pray even a decade of the Joyful mysteries of the rosary. Think about what is to come. Remember what it actually is that we are about to celebrate.

Every year, I say I’m going to have a real Advent. Every year I say I’m going to pray more, I’m going to sacrifice more. I am going to win this Advent. Every year, work seems to get crazy right around Christmas. I get behind on life. I miss Advent.

I have missed most of my Advent.

But I don’t need to be afraid. I have five days until the Lord comes to us. I might not be able to keep up with my grand plans for prayer and sacrifice. But I can still prepare, I can still meditate, I can still strive to remember what this all is for.

And then when Christmas comes, the Celebration will be more than good. It will be awesome.