December 7, 2018


Step away from the chaos, make Advent a truly Christ-centered time

So, we’re nearly a week into Advent, and the holiday chaos surrounding us is in full swing.

Upon reflection, we remember that many stores and businesses began a full-fledged assault of advertising the Christmas season to consumers right after Halloween, and since then, the noise has only increased.

And in that noise, many are sadly putting the Baby Jesus on the backburner, or even worse, trying to push him out of the equation all together.

What’s a person of faith to do when many in the secular world have decided “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” are the appropriate responses for this special time of year, and “keeping Christ” in Christmas is not the way to go?

While many consumers are counting down the days left until Dec. 25, our faith teaches us to embrace Advent, and not to fall into a secularist mentality.

In the first Sunday of Advent’s Gospel reading (Lk 21:25-28, 34-36), Jesus tells his disciples to be vigilant. And as we are reminded throughout Advent, it is a great liturgical season of vigilance, of waiting and watching.

What practically can we do during this season of vigil keeping? What are some practices that might bring alive the spirituality of Advent for us?

Those two questions were posed by Los Angeles Bishop Robert E. Barron in his “Advent Gospel Reflection” for Dec. 2 on Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, (, the nonprofit global media apostolate that he founded and still leads.

In his reflection, Bishop Barron offered, “I strongly recommend the classically Catholic discipline of eucharistic adoration. To spend a half hour or an hour in the presence of the Lord is not to accomplish or achieve very much—it is not really ‘getting’ anywhere—but it is a particularly rich form of spiritual waiting.”

He continued, “As you keep vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, bring to Christ some problem or dilemma that you have been fretting over, and then say: ‘Lord, I’m waiting for you to solve this, to show me the way out, the way forward. I’ve been running, planning, worrying, but now I’m going to let you work.’ Then, throughout Advent, watch attentively for signs.”

Bishop Barron added that when we pray before the Eucharist, we should allow our desire for the things of God to intensify, and allow our hearts and souls to expand. Pray, “Lord, make me ready to receive the gifts you want to give,” or even, “Lord Jesus, surprise me,” Bishop Barron said.

Our Advent practices could also include making time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. As you’ll read on page 15 of this week’s issue of The Criterion, the opportunities to go to confession are plentiful throughout parishes in central and southern Indiana. Clip it out, or visit our Advent website at if you’d like the most up-to-date schedule.

Spiritual reading could be a wonderful practice to add to your daily Advent plans. Reflecting on the day’s readings is a great option, and while you’re at it, why not try to include attending Mass beyond Sunday—possibly even daily—during this liturgical season?

As St. John Paul II taught us in his 2003 encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” (“On The Eucharist”), receiving the Eucharist is the greatest gift of our Catholic faith. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful way to prepare for the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

Our faith teaches us we are an Advent people. And though some in today’s world are trying to tell us that we should keep our religion inside our church buildings, we cannot and will not do that.

As Pope Francis has shared with us consistently during his pontificate, we are missionary disciples called to live out our faith in all that we do—during Advent, on Christmas, and each and every day.

—Mike Krokos

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