The community has lots and lots of Advent customs. The #1 one is simply that we celebrate it! In a shopping-crazy, consumerism society, and with the great shrinking of the Catholic school system, I doubt that Advent is much celebrated by the majority of Christians. But, if you're aware of the liturgical year or somewhat attached to a group that is, voila, the new year is about to begin---this Saturday night with the Vigil of the First Sunday of Advent.
By Saturday noon there will be a large Advent wreath and other simple but always striking additions to our chapel environment. Liturgically this is a beautiful time of year, too, rich with all those messianic foretellings and poetic readings from the Old Testament prophets. The songs and hymns of Advent are gorgeous, too, and even the feasts that fall in the middle of it only add to the fullness of the prayer days: Nicholas, Lucy, Mary, Guadalupe, usually Hanukkah, and finally, the seven days of the O Antiphons.
One of our customs is for the community to read the same book and meet in small groups to share reflections on the reading. This year's book is The Flowers in the Desert by Demetrius Dumm, OSB, a monk of St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA. (Also the summer home of the Pittsburgh Steelers if you're of that persuasion!)
As much as we all love Advent, it's hard not to have at least some thoughts of Christmas---especially since our new chapel will bring a flock of new arrangements and customs. What's the burning liturgical question on everyone's mind? That's easy, where will we put the chapel Christmas tree this year?
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Holy One from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on all the peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of our God.
Isaiah 2: 3-5