The Stations of Advent

If you’re anything like me, by now – the 3rd Sunday of Advent – you’re tired of trying to come up with the “perfect” gift ideas, tired of the running around & busyness, and especially tired of hearing the same five Christmas songs on endless repeat.  Yet, today, this Gaudete Sunday, we are reminded through the gift that is the Church and her liturgy that we are to be joyful!  Not tired, not cranky, and not short-tempered.  We are called to be a rose-colored anticipatory people today, filled with the excited expectation of being so near the goal: Christ’s coming!  In just one more week we will celebrate the anniversary of the Birth of Jesus and look forward to His next coming with great hope.  How do we overcome the exhaustion and secularness (I think I just made that word up) of this time, though?  What is supposed to be a time of great anticipation, Advent, has become for many of us the event itself as we shop and bake and wrap and listen to Feliz Navidad for the thousandth time.  So how can we reclaim the joy of this day and final week, and how do we reorient ourselves to an Advent mindset?  

One way is to spend these final days uniting our prayer to that of the Church through the “O Antiphons”.  In these ancient songs, one per day from December 17-23, we feel the groans of anticipation throughout all of history as the ancient Jewish people awaited the Messiah, and now we recall that time as we wait anew for Him to come again!  The most well known Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” draws its name and verses from these antiphons, which invoke biblical imagery and Old Testament titles for the Messiah; and it is beautiful in it’s haunting melody, pulling us deeper into that time of expectation.

Similarly, you could choose to spend your daily prayer time this last week of Advent in meditation on the Stations of Advent.  This was new to me just a few years ago, but it walks through the ancestry of Jesus and history of Israel in a reflective way that I find exciting to ponder in these final days leading up to Christmas.  Imagine the many centuries of waiting and hoping for a savior that our Jewish ancestors went through.  They had no overt Gaudete Sunday to let them know that it was almost time – He’s almost here! – only ancient prophecies and signs.  Their Temple priests didn’t wear rose vestments as Joseph and Mary made their way to Bethlehem.  We can miss the forest for the trees of warnings that we are getting throughout this season of Advent.  Let’s not.  Let’s be alert, not tired; patient, not cranky; anticipatory, not busy.  Let’s pray the “O Antiphons” with the universal Church and walk through the history of Israel and Jesus.  Let’s be excited for Advent – and Christmas – again!

For resources on how to pray the “O Antiphons” or the Stations of Advent, check out these sites: (detailed guide) (detailed guide)  (basic explanation)