Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Lighting More Than Advent Candles: Quiet December Evenings Lead One Family to Peace

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Lighting More Than Advent Candles: Quiet December Evenings Lead One Family to Peace

Article excerpt

The celebration of Advent took on a whole new level of seriousness and meaning for me a few years after I became a father and my kids reached the age where they could understand what was going on around them. The observation of these days, the colder weather, and the early darkness encouraged a slowing down in my family's life and conspired to create quiet, tender evenings.

When my kids were still little, just around the time they had started to walk and talk, we began our Advent tradition. Each evening we'd send the kids off to their bedrooms, then silently stroll through the house, turning off each and every light, eliminating anything that could steal away their attention.

We'd light candles of various sizes, colors, and brightness throughout our living room, placed at different heights on tables, shelves, and the mantle. With each successive week of Advent, we'd light more candles until the room became bathed in candlelight by Christmas Eve. I'd then go to my kids' bedrooms, carrying a single candle. I'd knock--making sure they had also turned off the lights in their rooms--and enter, the candlelight flickering before me.

I'd ask the kids what time of year it was and if they'd like to come with me tonight to watch and wait for Jesus. They'd walk quietly, all smiles, blankets and stuffed animals in tow, to our living room, lit now by candlelight. Together we'd light the appropriate candles on our Advent wreath, employing a little booklet for prayers and reflection. …

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