...we felt the urge to create "traditions" to mark the "milestones" in our lives. There was a continual lament about how few rituals there were in modern life. Little did I know! As a practicing, believing Catholic, my daily life is so full of ritual, tradition, and milestone markers, I could complain of the exact opposite problem. My life is "too full" of such blessings!
I guess when you toss tradition to the four winds, losing tradition is a natural consequence. Silly me not to ever see something so obvious.
Meanwhile, my family and I are marking the beginning of a new Liturgical Year with the celebration of Advent. When Sunday rolled around and the kids woke to the first day of our family celebration, there seemed to be more than my five little ones running around singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and saying "Advent's here! It's here!" Even our little foster daughter Sissy who has no memory of her first Advent with us, joined in with the cheers, mad dashing, and mayhem.
We dressed with special attention to "dressiness" to mark our First Sunday of Advent church going, and when the sun went down, we lit our first purple candle and read aloud the story of the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary. The children learned that the prayer, "Hail, Mary, full of Grace. The Lord is with you," is from her encounter with the angel. It was Gabriel's words to Mary that forms the first part of this Biblical prayer (Luke 1:26-38).
The children were wide-eyed in the candlelight as I retold the story of the angel's visit (using techniques of storytelling I learned in my journey as a NeoPagan). They were in awe as once again, they pondered the idea that God Himself made himself a tiny, helpless baby. More than once my 6-year-old's eyes wandered to his baby sister, as we talked about our most powerful and awesome God submitting Himself to the indignities of wet diapers, hunger, and even an itchy, runny nose, all to reconcile us to Himself. God thought that we were worth every bit of it.
And so we are. If He thinks it, it is so.
Our ritual is like this: The candle, the Bible story, then a prayer and an Advent hymn. We let each little one blow out the candle (which means relighting it four times). The ones who are able say a "Thank You" to God for something. This first night we had a thank you for candy, for love, and for candles.
And now it is my turn...
Thank You for family, for the Church and her traditions, and for the lifelong journey that has brought me home to her and to my God.
Happy Advent everyone!