Advent service matters. Here’s why, plus thirteen ways to help your family love your neighbor.
If Advent is a Mini-Lent, we need to treat it that way, right?
We should pray.
We should fast.
We should sacrifice.
Prayer – no problem. My prayer life could always use work, but it’s something I do everyday.
But you want me to fast and sacrifice?
Advent, I’m a work-at-home, homeschooling mom.
A. You can’t have my cookies.
B. I deserve a nap.
Why Advent Service Matters
“The cross means: love knows no limits – begin with those who are closest to you and do not forget those who are the farthest.” – Pope St. John Paul the Great
Gah. He gets me every time.
The truth is, mothers fast and sacrifice year round. We give up sleep to hold a feverish baby. We don’t eat the last brownie because we know someone else will want it. We say goodbye to privacy, to time for ourselves, to days when there isn’t a load of laundry or a dirty dish in the sink.
When you and your family serve others during Advent:
- you cut through the bustle of the “holiday season”
- you are reminded that all people are members of the body of Christ
- your learn what it means to perform corporal works of mercy
- you see the work of your faith take root
- your family build a more thorough understanding of right and wrong
- you grow in hope as a family, as the salt and light of the earth
- you learn to care for others not out of pity, but of genuine love and compassion
In his apostolic letter “Novo Millennia Ineunte,” Pope St. John Paul the Great wrote of the need for “a new creativity in mercy…so a helping gesture is not seen as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters.”
Along these lines, I’ve compiled a list of thirteen ways you can show love to your neighbor this Advent season, whether close or far from home.
Say Thank You
by attending an Honor Flight
by sending a care package to our troops
by writing thank you notes to the people who serve you every day (garbage men, grocery store baggers, receptionists, custodial staff)
Ease a Burden
by collecting and donating baby items
by serving at a soup kitchen
by starting a reverse Advent calendar
by taking dinner to a family in need
Spread a Little Cheer
by taking homemade gifts to nursing homes
by taking cookies to police and fire stations
by inviting your pastor for dinner
by leaving treats on doorsteps
by playing with the animals at the animal shelter
by paying for the person in line behind you
In a 1979 homily, our dear John Paul II said:
Let us fight against a semblance of love, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and truth.
Let us love our neighbors as ourselves this Advent season. It’s good for all of us.
Want more Advent? Read on: