Focus on joy during this week of Advent

The Advent season begins with the lighting of the Advent wreath as the central symbolic rite of spiritual preparation for Christmas. Purple is the color of penitence and humility. The rose-colored candle, lit the Third Week of Advent, represents a hopeful look toward Christ’s coming. (CNS | Jon L. Hendricks)

Time to shout for joy!

We are halfway through Advent and have reached “Rejoice Sunday,” better known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. It’s also pink candle Sunday (on the Advent wreath) with rose-colored vestments at Mass. (See the corresponding FAQs article here)

You can just feel the excitement building — even though we still have lots of struggles to cope with this year, Christmas is getting close and, for some of us, it might feel a little more like it used to feel.

The psalm response this week is “Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel” from the prophet Isaiah.

The days are getting shorter and colder — especially with the snow and wind we had earlier this week. But Advent reminds us that God is with us and Jesus came. That should make us cry out with joy.

 

Focus on joy this week:

  • Take a few moments to reflect on something that made you rejoice this week. Maybe it was something small, like snow shining white on an evergreen tree. Or maybe it was big, like chocolate from St. Nicholas. Give thanks for it.
  • Do something that makes you feel happy this week — it will reflect out to those people around you, just like the three Advent candles will reflect bright light into a room.
  • Do something that makes someone else happy this week. Maybe you’ll be making holiday treats or attend one of the parish cookie fundraisers (see page 15 and check your parish bulletins). Who can you share a treat with? As the Letter to the Philippians this Sunday says, “Your kindness should be known to all.”
  • Since it’s a night game this week for the Packers on Dec. 12, spend the extra time during the late afternoon — when it’s just getting dark — looking at the neighborhood Christmas lights. Say a little prayer for the people who took the time to put some light into your world — even if you don’t know their names.

 

Learn from John:

The Gospel this Third Sunday of Advent focuses on John the Baptist. Notice how he didn’t call attention to himself. But he did have advice:

  • Share with others. That could bring rejoicing that you may not even know about. We all get lots of requests for donations this time of year. Choose one group that you feel really spreads joy and make a donation. Or, if you haven’t done so yet, consider buying your Christmas tree from one of the parish tree lots (See page 15).
  • John advises soldiers to be happy with their wages. That can be challenging advice. We are in tough times; inflation is driving prices up and causing our wages’ buying power to go down. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t give thanks for what we do have. Even if it’s very small. Doing so can help us find a sense of calm because, like Mary awaiting her child, we are trusting in God to see us through.
  • John also warns about being prepared for the Lord who is coming with his “winnowing fan.” At this time of year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Try to cut some of the chaff out of your life and keep only what is truly important. That also brings a sense of peace.
  • Also, since John preached about repentance, try to take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation. Many parishes are adding extra time for this during Advent. It’s the best way to clear out the chaff of our lives — and that can bring joy.

 

(Kasten has a master’s degree in theological studies from St. Norbert College, De Pere.)