Advent and Ritual

One of the rituals I love during Advent is the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. We light them at Mass every day…one during the first week of Advent, two during the second week and so on. I also light them at home – on each Sunday, but also during the week at odd times when I am home.

There is something in actions like this. If we do them intentionally, they seem to stop time for a moment. They pull us out of the ordinary and into a quiet space of peace. For a few minutes, the exams that have to be graded, the meal that has to be made, the load of laundry waiting to be washed, the bills waiting to be paid – all disappear and there is something else in its place.

I recently read a New York Times article that quoted a Jewish rabbi saying, “Ritual pulls us back from all the mundane stuff and helps make us more transcendent in our lives Any ritual can have transcendent meaning, but most of the time we miss it because we’re trying to take care of everything else.” The author of the article commented in words that mirror my experience, that ritual is “a way to make time stop for a moment in the blur of life.”

So let time stop for a moment. Whether it is lighting the candle of an Advent wreath or some other act, allow yourself the time and space to leave the ordinary for a bit. Don’t worry – it will all still be there when you return, although you may look at it all a little differently.


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