catholic homeschool family reading the bible

Advent and Anticipation: How to Prepare Spiritually for Advent

3 Steps to Prepare Yourself for a Holy Advent

All Creation Waits in Humble Expectation!

The Latin translation of the Lord’s Prayer includes the words “adveniat regnum tuum” — “Thy kingdom come.” Advent is the great anticipatory season of the Church. How appropriate it is that it also marks the beginning of the liturgical year.

One could make a good argument that everything begins with anticipation. All creation waits in humble expectation. The angels stand by in rapt attention, ready to rejoice and cry out from the heavenly realm with songs of praise and adoration. The earth waits in silence for the Seed of the Word to descend into a cave carved out of the very ground, from which this righteous and long-awaited Shoot of Jesse’s stump will blossom and flourish. The birds and beasts perk up and keenly scan their surroundings, listening intently for they know, in their innocent simplicity, that something new is coming.

Mankind senses it, too. We smell a change in the air. A stillness gradually descends and spreads over the land like a great invisible blanket. In a far too often neglected depth of our souls, we sense the need to prepare—to tidy things a bit, to keep watch—even to ask for forgiveness and repent. Advent, an old college chaplain was fond of telling us each year, is an invitation to “turn down the volume of the world.” We ought to be intentional about this. We ought to take inventory. Jesus advised us later in his ministry that we must be vigilant, lest we be like the servant whose master arrived “on a day he did not expect, and an hour he did not know” (see Mt 24:50).

How can we go about this? As someone who struggles anew each Advent, I can only offer some observations and suggestions that reflect many years of trial and error.

1. Start Like Martha—Finish Like Mary

Luke’s account in chapter 10 of Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary may be instructive here. What do I mean? Martha is on the lookout for Jesus, eagerly anticipating the moment when she can invite him into her home. She is truly ready to receive him, and it is worth pointing this detail out because so few of us can say the same. Martha is commendable in this regard.

But the story doesn’t end there. Unfortunately for Martha, she never stops “getting ready” to savor the Lord’s presence in her home. She busies herself relentlessly, attending to every little detail of hospitality. She misses the beautiful truth that her sister Mary intuits right away. Jesus, at the end of the day, isn’t really their guest—they, and all of us, are His. He is the Lord of all, and He wants our open hearts and minds (and workplaces and homes!) so he can come and make his dwelling among us. He doesn’t need us. We need Him. Period.

How easy it is to spend every last ounce of our effort and attention preparing for Christmas only to find that we have nothing left to enjoy and relish in celebration of the season honoring Our Lord’s incarnation!

2. Pray Ceaselessly

In 1 Thess 5:17, St. Paul entreated his listeners and readers to “pray without ceasing.” Brother Lawrence’s advice in the 17th century amounted to the same thing: “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.” If you’re anything like me, this can easily deflate you because it seems so implausible—perhaps even impossible!

Certainly, this is the Advent in which we will finally realize what prayer is: intentionally placing myself in the presence of God. Christian prayer is not some incantation by which I summon God like a genie from a bottle. Prayer is, as St. John of Damascus put it, “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.” What a beautiful expression.

It seems to me that the secret to it all is that Christ is uniquely our destination and the Way itself. He is “on his way” to us in this season, yes. But so, too, is He already here with us, beside us, before us along the path we tread. Perhaps it might be helpful here to recall that his name literally means “God with us.” So pray without ceasing because what that really looks like is simply paying attention to Jesus and making an effort in sincere devotion to focus on Him.

3. Don’t Do It Alone… Why Would You?!

Finally, when considering how to go about experiencing a good and worthwhile Advent season, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to be too “creative” — in my experience, that can sometimes become a distraction or even a source of unwanted and unneeded stress. The Church is bigger, older, smarter, and holier than you and me, and somewhere, there’s a particular Advent practice or devotion that is just right for us!

I’ve tried all kinds of things in the past, and every year, I feel this urge to get it perfectly right this time. Sometimes, I get a few days into a particular daily email-based devotion or a book or some video series, and I just feel like it isn’t a good fit. I think that’s okay. Call it discernment.

Personally, I think some of the best resources for us are hidden in plain sight: the daily Mass readings and the Liturgy of the Hours. These are my typical go-tos throughout the year, and this Advent, I’m really leaning on them as my primary devotions. They are so rich and so perfectly designed to lead us to Christmas! I’m also a big fan of books like Redemptorist Publications’ “Advent and Christmas Wisdom from…” series because of the untold graces pairing up with a particular saint can often bring us, and it can even lead to the development of a real friendship with our faith heroes (P.S. They have great Lent & Easter versions of this series as well!)


The bottom line is that Advent is a gift. God wants us to find Him — that’s why He tells us to be vigilant. We won’t miss Him if we’re sincerely looking for Him. He won’t refuse to let us into the party if we knock on the door. I’ll leave you with that beautiful image of the repentant Scrooge knocking at his nephew Fred’s door as he finally accepts Fred’s invitation:

“It’s I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?”

Let Him in! It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier.

Advent Resources

Homeschooling Saints Podcast offers several great episodes on Advent and preparing for Christmas:

How do you keep Advent and Christmas holy? I invite you to join me and other Catholic parents by joining our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group today.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get updated every month on all the latest Homeschooling Saints podcast episodes and new blog posts

Ready to Get Started?

Homeschooling can seem daunting at first, but take it from us: The joy and freedom you gain from homeschooling far outweighs the challenges.

With flexible online classes, passionate instructors, and a supportive community at your back and cheering you on, there’s no limits to where your homeschooling journey can take your family! 

Sign up today!

Pin It on Pinterest