Advent has arrived which means time to prepare for Christmas—the birth of Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  The joy of Christmas depends on the intensity with which we live out the Season of Advent. Let us follow these concrete suggestions and live out this Season of Advent with great joy, prayer, love and intensity. Let us live out this Advent as if it were to be the last in our lives. Indeed it could be! Jesus constantly reminds us to be alert, awake and to be ready and prepared for His coming because we know neither the day nor the hour.

1.    SILENCE…. Remember the Prophet Elijah and his experience with God in the silence on the Mountain.(I Kings 19: 11- 13) Try to eliminate unnecessary noise in your live!  We suffer from “noise Pollution”.

2.    PRAYER. Find more time to pray in this Holy Season. The Church encourages us to increase and intensify our prayer life.  Forms of prayer are many. The list might be among the following: a) Liturgy of the Hours, b) Psalms—the prayer book of the Bible; c)Holy Hour and the Word of God; d) Lectio Divina and following the classical steps: lectio, meditacio, contemplacio, oracio, accio, and finally transformacio… Pope Benedict XVI in his writings on the word of God “Verbum Domini” strongly recommends this; e) Holy Mass—the prayer “par excellence”; f) Vocal prayers prayed slowly and with great attention and love; g) Examen of Conscience(strongly recommended by Saint Ignatius); h) Holy Rosary—possibly the Scriptural Rosary; i) Contemplate the Crib/ the empty crib, the Shepherds… It could be very helpful to supplement your prayer, to read a good book on prayer; there are many, but find and good one!

3.    THE POOR.  Perhaps in this Season of Advent you can find some way that you can serve Jesus in the poor. Remember that Jesus manifests Himself in the poor. Blessed Mother Teresa said that we should discover Jesus in the “distressing disguise of the poor.” Read Mt 25:31-46—the Parable of the Last Judgment. Jesus points out that our final Judgment will be based on how we treat the poor.  Never forget this challenge: charity begins at home with our family members!

4.     HOLY MASS AND ADVENT. Try to go to Holy Mass every day in Advent. If you already attend daily Mass then go a step or two beyond what you are doing. Try to come earlier before Mass to prepare yourself better to receive Jesus into your “Bethlehem”—House of Bread, meaning your own heart. Also try to encourage and bring all the family members and friends that you can to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. As St. Andrew brought people to Jesus, you are also called to bring people to Jesus, the Savior! Indeed Jesus is the pearl and treasure of infinite price. Share Him with others!

5.    IMITATE OUR LADY. In the Marian classic written by Saint Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, the saint under the category of marks of authentic devotion to Mary, highlights Mary’s ten most exalted virtues.  They are: deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom. (True Devotion to Mary, # 108). Why not choose one or two of these virtues of Mary, beg through her intercession the grace to imitate them and then during the course of Advent make a concerted effort to live these virtues out more fully in your life? Mary is the shortest, quickest, and the easiest path to arrive at the Heart of Jesus.