Posted on December 2, 2017
Advent 2017: Making it the Best Advent Ever
by: Elizabeth Hlavinka, Certified Pietra Fitness Instructor
Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Church. The word “Advent” comes from Latin and means “coming”. It is a preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Mother Church asks us to renew ourselves and renew our prayer as we expectantly wait for our Lord.
At Christmas, we want to be able to give a gift to Jesus, just as the Shepherds brought gifts to our King laying humbly in the manger. Advent, like Lent, is intended to be a season of preparation, but it is also a season of joy! Prayer, penance, and almsgiving are appropriate during this season. In each Pietra Fitness class, we focus on the growth of our body through exercises and stretches, the growth of our mind through our resolutions and meditations, and the growth of our soul by beginning and ending with the Sign of the Cross and through our bodily prayers throughout class. How can we bring the character of Advent to our mind, body, and soul?
First, we can increase our prayer during Advent by coming closer to our Mother. Bearing the Christ-child, She, like the mothers among us, has experienced the final weeks of pregnancy, patiently awaiting the arrival of her child. We can add prayer to our lives during this time by coming closer to Mary as we all walk closer to the Nativity of the Lord. Reciting the rosary – even just a decade – each day could be a great exercise of prayer to come closer to our Mother. Focusing on her life, especially how she must have felt in the weeks leading up to the birth of Jesus, would be wonderful to reflect on each day as we wait upon the coming of Christ this Christmas.
We should also make a confession some time during Advent. It allows us to be sorry and receive forgiveness for our sins. Fasting in some way can also be our penance. We could give something up, like a food item, or spend less time on social media. We want the act to draw us closer to Christ. We should also joyfully, but with contrition, perform the penance the Priest is asking of us after going to Confession.
For almsgiving, we should focus on giving to the less fortunate in monetary donations and in volunteering our time. There are so many people in need. Even offering more smiles and words of kindness throughout the hustle and bustle of the season is a great gift. It can be fruitful during this time to work on one virtue and to give this virtue as a gift at the end of the Advent season. If you want to work on patience, for instance, you can perform a specific act to help you grow in patience during this time. It might be showing more patience toward a child, husband, coworker, or even during your daily commute!
Your Advent preparation does not have to include all the above, but it should draw you deeper into your waiting for the coming of the Lord.
Prayer, almsgiving, and fasting all lead us to focus on our mind, body and soul as Pietra Fitness does. Increase in prayer and doing good for our body and mind all help us lead a more balanced life, especially during the holiday events and activities. During the busyness leading up to Christmas how can we have the heart of Mary?! All of us at Pietra Fitness hope this Advent season is fruitful and joyous for all.
Advent picture used with permission: Catholic Sistas, http://www.catholicsistas.com/2015/12/28274/