Can you believe it’s already one month to Advent. Again!? I always thought adults were so silly in their comments about how “quickly time flies” and “don’t grow up too quickly” but boy were they right! I cannot believe we are already bringing 2022 to a close. Funny side story. I had to fill out the usual paperwork and releases that come with going to the dentist for our kids the other day. I had to re-fill out about half of the papers because I dated them all 2023! Time goes fast enough and there I was jumping a whole calendar year.
Time may fly, but there are things that stay constant. I love how our liturgical cycle moves in a predictable manner throughout the year, gently bringing us along as the seasons shift. The world has its own method of transitioning from one season to another, but it feels more jarring. Each year, holiday decorations seem to appear in the stores earlier and earlier. “Back to school season” was already in full swing by mid-June with Halloween candy on the shelves as the first day of school arrived. So much time is spent in anticipation of the next season that we don’t really get the opportunity to celebrate the present one.
Seasons of preparation are important. We prepare for a big trip, prepare for a school year, prepare for a new baby. The Church recognized the need to take time to adequately prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ at Christmas as well as in anticipation of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Then, when the Christmas and Easter seasons arrive, we are ready to fully participate in the joyful tidings. Our two seasons of preparation have their own markers, symbols and flair that help us settle into their particular moods and themes.
One of Advent’s big symbols is the Advent Wreath. Thinking back on my own celebrations of Advent, the wreath is always a part of this season of preparation. We had a wreath growing up that sat on the dining table. As our kids have grown, we have mostly made homemade wreaths thanks to The Mass Box‘s Advent box. This year, we have a new wooden wreath I am excited about from Shining Light Dolls (no affiliation with either company, just love the stuff!).
As I was beginning to discern what this year’s Advent journal would be about, I found myself drawn to the wreath. I realized that while each year we light the candles, I don’t actually know that much about what the candles symbolize. As I began to explore, the deeper I was drawn. Around the same time, I was so blessed to be able to review a Gregorian chant CD featuring Advent hymns from the monks at Clear Creek Abby. In the introduction, I was struck by this statement regarding the music:
Out of simplicity there can come music worthy to proclaim the holiness of God.Rorate Coeli CD – The Monks of Clear Creek
I don’t know if you know my brain, but it likes to take a small idea and blow it up really quickly, usually overcomplicating things. My small idea about an Advent wreath based journal had already become overworked and complex within 30 seconds of conceiving it. This quote pulled me back and God used it as a means of refinement. What follows is a very simple journal, but I hope one that helps you to recognize God’s abundant love and mercy in your life.
As every year, this is a completely free resource. This year, it is not tied to the cycle of readings in any substantial way, so it could be used for any Advent from here forward. While there is space for journaling each day, there are only a few specific writing prompts. Instead, there are carefully selected Scripture passages, saint quotes, catechism references and even a song from which you can draw inspiration to spark your conversation with God. The Advent Candles provide the overarching theme for each week – did you know each candle represents something different to guide our thoughts and prayers during that week?! I knew this someplace in the back of my mind but never really let the candles provide any kind of framework to my Advent season. I am excited to continue my meditations on them as Advent draws near.
There are 2 versions, identical in content, different in layout. There is the 8.5×11 print copy which totals 35 pages. You can of course double side that and cut it in half. There is also the booklet layout which needs only 9 pages. Be sure to check your printer’s settings for printing double sided regardless of layout you select.
Due to the small amount of cited Biblical text in this particular journal, you may print copies to share with friends and family (this is different from other Advent journals on the site. Please be aware of any copyright notices on other downloadable resources). With permission from your pastor, you may share this journal in print form with your wider parish community. As always, you are free to link this post in your bulletin, newsletter, personal social media, etc. so anyone can download and print their own copy.
I hope that this journal offers you some space for peace and rest with God during the Advent season.