Maybe it's the feel of something I did in my early teens and still do today that gives me a great feeling of joy whenever I prepare an Advent wreath. I remember getting the candles and the prayer card for the family ritual from the Daughters of St. Paul when I was in high school.
Today I pulled out my "Christmas Box"--a big flat under-the-bed storage box that hides my Advent/Christmas treasures.
I found Advent candles, but my candle holders are in Boston. I improvised something sturdy to hold the four candles: three purple and one pink to symbolize the weeks of Advent and the time before Christ's coming when people awaited his coming. From clippings from holly bushes in our yard, and from fir trees hanging well over our lawn. I fashioned a wreath to encircle the candles in our living room and in our chapel.
As we prayed the evening prayer for the First Sunday of Advent, we lit the first of the candles to remind us of the season. This time celebrates our waiting for God. And, as our Mother General wrote to us, God waits for us too.
To continue the Advent theme, we fashioned a set of paper candles for our bay window. To go along a bit with the culture, we changed the wreath at our front door to one with greens and a bright red bow.
As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict asked, this weekend we pray for all the unborn around the world that their lives will be a blessing to their mothers ad fathers, to their communities, and to the entire world. May the unborn be protected, nourished and cherished. The Blessed Virgin Mary is our model in Advent. As she awaited the birth of her Son, she serenely carried out the chores of her daily life, and she was no doubt, a woman of the deepest prayer. May the words of Caryll Houselander shed light on our Adventjourney: "This time of Advent is absolutely essential to our contemplation too. If we have truly given our humanity to be changed into Christ, it is essential to us to us that we do not disturb this time of grace.
"It is a time of darkness, of faith. We shall not see Christ's radiance in our lives yet; it is still hidden in our darkness; nevertheless we still must believe that He is growing in our lives; we must believe it so firmly that we cannot help relating everything, literally everything to this almost incredible reality." (From Houselander's "The Reed of God", Ave Maria Press edition, 2006)
May you and I experience a beautiful, grace-filled Advent.