Happy Advent! It is like saying Happy New Year because Adventis the beginning of ourLiturgical calendar.

The word Advent means “arriving” or “coming” in its original Latin root. When we celebrate the Advent season, we are celebrating the coming of Jesus Christ. It seems to me that in today’s world, we want everything now. We do not want to wait for things. As soon as Halloween is over, we begin to see Thanksgiving and Christmas items being displayed. Our culture has taught us to think that we are living in the moment by not waiting for anything, but that is actually the opposite of what is true.

To truly live in the moment, we must experience life at that moment. Advent helps us to do just that. Advent helps us to prepare for the arrival of Jesus, the KING of Kings. It is not about putting out all the Christmas decorations, so we can just take them down the day after Christmas…

Advent is the season for us to truly prepare ourselves, spiritually, for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. How do we do that? There are many ways that we can prepare for His coming. In our home, we use an Advent wreath that consists of three purple candles and one rose colored candle. After dinner, we take turns reading sacred scripture that corresponds to that day of our Advent calendar. Then we discuss those readings. We try to clear our minds and open our hearts to accept Jesus more sincerely, just like when we pray or prepare ourselves for Mass.

This is our family tradition. The beauty about being Catholic (means universal) is that we can incorporate many traditions that each of our cultures bring to celebrate the coming of Jesus. At my home parish, St Mary’s in Fullerton, we have a large population of Spanish speaking parishioners. One of the things that unites this community is celebrating Las Posadas for nine days (a Novena) in the evenings. In this custom, we remember and reenact the journey that Mary and Joseph took on their way to Bethlehem to find a place to bring Jesus into this world. We also have a large population of Filipino parishioners, and their rich culture has brought us Simbang Gabi. In this tradition, we celebrate nine pre-dawn Masses (a Novena) to prepare for the coming of Jesus. What do these and most other Advent traditions have in common? First, they help us to prepare spiritually for the coming of Jesus. Second, they help to form stronger communities in the breaking of bread with others. In our home, we gather around the Advent wreath after dinner. People gather for Latin-American food and snacks after the reenactment of the Holy Family’s journey during the Posadas. After the Mass during Simbang Gabi, parishioners also gather for breakfast and snacks after each Mass.

Whatever the tradition is, it is very important that we take the time to prepare for the coming of Jesus. If we truly believe that He is the KING of Kings, we must be prepared. If we were to meet royalty here on earth, we would be prepared as to how we would dress, how we would speak and how we would act. Should we not be more prepared when we plan to meet the KING of Kings?