Thanks to The Curt Jester for the use of his Advent wreath!
Today is the start of the new liturgical year—(toot) HAPPY NEW YEAR! (toot)—and as Fr. Guthrie said in his homily, "it's a new beginning." We get to start fresh, begin anew.
Fr. Guthrie also pointed out how we (the Catholic Church) are "counter-cultural" because for us this time of year is Advent, not yet Christmas. We are preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ by cleansing and purifying our souls through the sacraments and spending quiet time in reflection and prayer. Yes, I said QUIET time. How much more counter-cultural can we get when the rest of the world is running around like crazed animals shopping, decorating, hosting and attending parties and going non-stop all day, every day?
It makes sense to me to take this time to slow down, prepare and focus on what's really important and then AFTER the birth of Christ we celebrate Christmas.
I challenge you to keep this season as simple, peaceful and joyful as you can. Don't go in debt to buy expensive presents that will be forgotten or unused in a couple of weeks time. Buy or make simple, inexpensive gifts from the heart and give as much help to your favorite charity(s) as you can. Those gifts will go further and do more for those you help than you will ever know and it will bring peace to your soul as well.