As the year ends, and despite all the concerns around whether Christmas will go ahead as ‘normal’, it’s wonderful to feel the anticipation building inside our Churches and in wider society as we journey ever closer to the ‘big day’.
The term ‘Advent’, which means ‘coming’, adds to that anticipation, the opening of Advent calendars and lighting of candles being used to count down to the celebrations across society. For Christians, it is much more than this. It’s a time to focus not only on the past coming of Jesus on the first Christmas but also on the present coming of Jesus that we read about in the gospels and can experience in the lived reality of our daily lives.
When our four children were growing up, this Advent journey as a family was in many ways simple, our children following our lead in making those spiritual preparations with us. As they left home and made their own choices, and our extended family became larger, the spirituality of our once traditional ‘Catholic family’ became very diverse. I often contemplate that for the couples amongst them, following the Christian Advent traditions they fostered as children will be far more difficult for some than for others, but I hope that whatever they do they will be able to find space to prepare, to reflect on the real reason for the season…
In his daily homily on the first Monday of Advent in 2013, Pope Francis reflected on the season of Christmas, explaining that it is a time to encounter the Lord in faith, and allow him to renew our lives.
“Christmas isn’t just a temporal celebration or the memory of a beautiful (event); Christmas is more… Christmas is an encounter!”
For couples, perhaps this message is more pertinent than ever as we journey through Advent in 2021. Amidst all the complexities of our own circumstances and the diversity of our family life, how are we going to make time and space to support and walk with one another, to reconnect? For these are perhaps some of the best possible preparations to welcome Christ into our lives this Christmas.
This blog was written by Fran Watson from Marriage Care. Marriage Care are part of the Alliance of Catholic Marriage Organisations. For more information on the alliance please visit: