Prepare With Me (Advent 2023)

Rebecca De Souza, a Retreat Leader at Westminster Youth Ministry, shares her experience of preparing for Christmas during this season of Advent.

Advent is a special time for me and all Catholics for two reasons. Firstly, it is a season of preparation, a time when we ready ourselves for the joyous celebration of Christmas; secondly, it is preparation for Christ’s second coming. Advent is a season of devout and joyful preparation for the coming of Jesus and here’s what I am doing to get prepared!

As most of you can relate to, in my family we engage in the traditional activities such as making sure that our house is the most lit up house on the street, to making Christmas treats and cultural sweets to going to Mass every week. These traditions bring us joy and help create a festive atmosphere, but I have come to realise that Advent requires a more intentional and reflective approach.

Advent calls for a more profound and reflective preparation and in pursuit of this, I have incorporated various practices into my Advent routine. One significant step I have taken is dedicating time each day to reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke leading up to Christmas. Having taken this intentional step to engage with scripture serves as a meaningful countdown, similar to the excitement created by the familiar chocolate advent calendars. I have also been exploring the deeper meaning of Advent through research and online videos which has been providing me with valuable insights, enhancing my understanding of this special season leading to the new liturgical year.

Additionally, my involvement with the youth ministry team in the Diocese has supported my growth with my faith particularly during this Advent season. This week in our retreat centre we had a Rorate Caeli Mass which is not something I had experienced before. The Mass began at 7am in our chapel which was only lit up by candles. The Church’s tradition of celebrating Rorate Caeli (Drop down, ye havens in Latin) Mass is in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary to highlight the significance of this time. Christ is the Light, the Word made flesh, hence the Mass is celebrated before the dawn in darkness only lit up with candles. The Mass was such a beautiful experience and its meaning has touched me in a special way.

An important step I have yet to take this Advent is confession. In the upcoming days, I plan to partake in this sacrament, seeking the spiritual renewal and closer connection with the Lord as I prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Through taking these intentional steps and partaking in these experiences I have been able to spend this Advent taking a more reflective approach allowing my relationship with Christ to grow.

Rebecca De Souza, Retreat Leader at Westminster Youth Ministry.