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Hallo again to all.

Nearly every year on the first Sunday of Advent we have a panic reaction. 'Advent? Already? Where did the year go? Why isn't there a season to prepare for Advent? I need time to be ready for Advent.' After all, there was historically a mini-season of Pre-Lent to help us prepare for Lent: the Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. Why not a season to prepare for Advent?

The idea might seem daft, but the world is a daft place, and it takes work and dedication to push the quotidian from your soul to make more room for the Holy Spirit. The craziness does not derive just from tragedies like war or famine or flood, from recession or unemployment or financial collapse, but also local man-made tragedies such as the US election. According to the New York Times there has been one and a half billion dollars spent on the US presidential election campaign so far. Try to imagine what it must be like to live in a place where you need to stop to think about whether this report about electioneering in Ohio is real. In fully civilized countries political advertising is forbidden (though if you are following the various current church-related debates in the UK you know that political turbulence can be created without paid advertising).

Thus Advent is often wasted on people whose mind is elsewhere by the end of November. By the time they can get some holiness back into their souls to begin the Advent experience, Advent is over, save perhaps for the day spent madly rushing around buying Christmas presents. Preparation requires preparation.

We can help. We can remind you that Advent begins four weeks from today. You have time to prepare to prepare. You have time to get ready for Advent. Some of the resource listings on our Advent Resources page are already current for 2012; some are not*. The message of Advent is timeless, of course; you can prepare for Advent 2012 using material that was written for Advent 1885 or for Advent 2008. You could read the Wikipedia page about Advent. You could read the Advent page in the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia. You could try to find a copy of Dietrich Bonhöffer's God is in the Manger; if you take it seriously it will take you longer than four weeks to read it, so start early.

It's up to you. But if you want to be ready for Advent 2012, you should really start now. If you don't have enough recordings of Advent music, there's plenty of time to buy some and get it installed into your music player. If you have children, you should read to them, and it would be nice to have an Advent book already in your household before Advent begins. Every online bookseller will let you search for Advent-related books. We're fond of the Advent Storybook. You might also consider (and start planning) an Advent-related project to do with your children, such as making a wreath or a Nativity scene.

How many times have you come to the first day of Advent and wished that you had an Advent calendar. A real one. Yes, there are dozens of good online Advent calendars, but there's nothing quite like a real physical calendar with little doors to be opened each day, each hiding a tiny surprise. There are several specialty vendors for mail-order Advent calendars listed on our Advent Resources page or you can type 'advent calendars' into a search engine to find more vendors (you'll get better results from many search engines if you are careful to search for the plural 'calendars' and not the singular 'calendar'). If you are lucky enough to live near a cathedral or a church large enough to have its own shop, you will almost certainly find Advent calendars for sale there.

You could probably manage to prepare yourself for Advent just by spending 10 minutes each day meditating about Advent. But you need to do something, lest Advent ambush you, too. It's four weeks away. Be ready for Advent, and you will be the richer for it.

See you next week, by which time Advent will be three weeks away.


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4 November 2012

*If you find a 2012 Advent resource before we do, please tell us.

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