Nicole Berlucchi ponders Advent as a time to make changes that last beyond Christmas and lay the foundation for the full year ahead.
A big shift in my life this last month, returning to full-time work, has me thinking about Advent less as the season leading me into Christmas and more of a launching into my new year, a new liturgical year. Not in a daunting way, trying to plan out what I am to do every single day of the year, but instead an opportunity to realize that Advent is a launching pad. It’s a time to make changes and not changes only until Christmas, but changes that lay the foundation for the full year ahead.
Now that my schedule is suddenly dictated by outside means and I find myself with less opportunities to go to daily Mass, shorter windows for prayer, and just a general sense of “there’s not enough time,” I’ve begun to feel a little lost, unbalanced and perhaps even a little complacent—it is what it is.
But as I look ahead to Advent, I’m realizing, no. I have standards. I have priorities. And even with this shift, the Lord has plans for me, plans of hope and a future (Jer 29:11), but also plans for pausing in the midst of a challenging schedule, plans for prioritizing properly in a long list of options, and plans for letting go in a world that tells you control everything.
I find myself less filled with questions of how can I slow down this season before Christmas and more thinking long term: how do I find peace in a rapid pace of life? How can I not be distracted by the world and instead be drawn by the Lord? It is important to prepare our hearts for Christmas, but in truth, we are preparing for so much more—a whole year with the Lord, His entire life played out for us. 33 years, three in particular, packed into one year: teaching us, changing us, calling us.
I’m asking myself what can be different this Advent so that what I’m changing or doing isn’t just through a season, but instead is influencing the year ahead. I want to look ahead like I look at my schedule or my finances or my kids’ needs or my career or my vacations and look at my relationship with Jesus and say: Lord, I am planning for You. I am prioritizing You. And let’s be honest, He has plans for us!
We can’t know those plans, but in showing Him our love and commitment to Him and His will, any surprises will come much easier or at least be welcomed in peace rather than as a problem.
I’m not looking for the short-term goals this Advent, though important and good. I am looking for the foundation, the plan that’s going to help me know Him better, that’s going to keep me in line with His will, that’s building on the good and discarding the bad.
We are preparing for a full liturgical cycle of waiting, birth, growth, suffering, death, Resurrection and glory. We are preparing for barren seasons and we are preparing for growing seasons and we are preparing for seasons of new life. These qualities play out in all kinds of ways in each year of our lives.
The Lord simply waits to be invited in. My hope is that I won’t be like the innkeeper, giving our Lord, whatever I can think of in a pinch—maybe I can find room for You in my most sleepy or shortest window of the day. My hope is instead that I am like the shepherds or the Magi, hearing His word and going in search of Him always.
And just like these stories, the themes will return to us throughout the year: the Pharisees with hardened hearts unable to let Jesus in and the poor whose faith has healed them, who walk away giving glory to God.
I want an Advent that prepares me to be a shepherd, that prepares me to be poor in spirit, seeking Jesus, believing in Him.
As I have thought about this, I have also started thinking about my Word of the Year, which I traditionally have started on January 1, but this year will begin alongside Advent. I think the Lord is giving me the word: mountain, which is a follow-up to this year’s word: nothing.
It’s a stark contrast, and yet, it’s very representative of how drastically my life has changed since returning to full-time work. He is challenging me to find His peace in the hectic pace of life not just in Christmas but all year. I’m going to use Advent to have a solid foundation to think and pray about this word: mountain. I encourage you to find ways you can lay the foundation for your liturgical year this Advent as well.
Copyright 2023 Nicole Berlucchi
About the Author
Nicole Berlucchi is a writer, wife of Joe, mom of four, a Philadelphia, PA native living in the Nashville, TN area. Devoted to Jesus and Mary, she finds the Eucharist, Adoration and the Rosary to be a continuous source of light and life for her spiritual journey. You can find her at NicoleBerlucchi.com or on Instagram @berlucchiwriting.