by Rosemarie Pace
Pax Christi New York
Ed. Note: At key moments throughout the liturgical year, long-time regional coordinator Rosemarie Pace will offer reflections timed the season with accompanying prayers and suggested actions. This is the third in the series.
Happy New Year! Wait? What? Is something wrong here? No, not at all. As you probably know, but may have forgotten, Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year, so Happy New Year!
And how does one celebrate the New Year? In the secular world, we know some people party hearty; they drink, dance, sing, make merry. Many make resolutions to turn over a new leaf, to do better, to be better. Some spend the day watching parades and football games. Then there are those who prefer to ignore the start of a new year altogether.
But how do we celebrate the liturgical New Year? Doesn’t it deserve similar recognition to the secular one? We certainly have the resources to do just that. We have Advent wreaths and calendars. Possibly less familiar is the Jesse Tree. Parishes may have a Giving Tree to collect gifts for those in need. There are also special services and performances like Lessons and Carols, all to remind us of the significance of the season. There may even be parties, though they’re usually considered Christmas parties, not Advent/New Year parties.
What would it be like if we really celebrated Advent? Rather than getting distracted by all the busyness of Christmas preparation or letting Advent pass by totally unnoticed, what if we saw Advent as a time to enjoy its own specialness? Advent comes, at least in the northern hemisphere, with increased cold and dark, an opportunity to quiet down, to pray, reflect, and listen. It also brings great anticipation, expectation, and hope. In the midst of dark skies and dark times, why not embrace the anticipation, expectation, and hope that Advent offers? Let Advent be a time to refresh and renew. How about Advent-New Year resolutions that focus on our spiritual life, our growth in faith, our service to others, our commitment to be more Christ-like?
Yes, let’s find new ways to celebrate Advent, to make it a truly Happy New Year!
Prayer—from “An Advent Shower Psalm” by Edward Hays in Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim
Isaiah of old prayed,
“Let the earth open wide her mouth;
as justice descends, O heavens,
like dew from above,
like gentle showers,
let salvation fall from the skies;
let justice spring up
and salvation bud forth.”…
Come showers of silence and wet my soul;
soak deeply with your fertile fingers,
dripping heaven’s dew.
May I come forth from my times of prayer
as from a bath:
dripping wet from a sacred soaking,
refreshed, renewed, revitalized.
Advent prayer of December stillness,
dampen my dry soul,
coax forth green leaves of the Spirit
and bring forth buds of bright flowers
as green wreath circles
whirl on front doors,
red-bowed in festive joy….
Radiant Rain God,
make me your brimful cloud,
ready to shower down Emmanuel’s justice and peace
upon all I meet.
- Celebrate Advent, not just as a preview of Christmas, but as its own blessed season.
- Party a little.
- Pray a little.
- Stop for a while, relax, and listen to your heart.
- Then do a little—for someone in need, for peace, for justice, for God’s creation.
When you are caught up in Christmas preparations, be mindful of what really matters—things like kindness, patience, forgiveness, and community. Especially remember this when buying gifts for children.
Resolve to make this new year one of growth in faith, hope, and love for God, self, and others.