Catholic Financial Life Blog

7 Ways to Enrich Your Advent Experience

Posted by Catholic Financial Life

Nov 19, 2015 6:00:00 PM

Advent is a season of joyful anticipation for the birth of our Savior, Jesus. In the midst of all your holiday shopping, cookie baking, and home decorating, reflect on the waiting. What do you usually do when you're waiting -- waiting for the arrival of a new baby or for a guest at your home? When we think about Advent this way, we can understand why it's important to focus so much time and energy on our preparations for the coming of Jesus. Here are seven tips to inspire you throughout the upcoming Advent and keep you motivated in your anticipation of Christmas.

1. Sing

This seems like an obvious one, because music is all around us in Advent -- in Church, in school, on the radio -- but singing is one of the easiest ways to spread the joy of the Advent season. The word "carol" means a joyful dance that is set to music. You can even spread this joy by visiting hospitals and nursing homes and singing Christmas carols to the patients and residents. Focus on songs of waiting, like "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and "O Come All Ye Faithful."

2. Decorate

In the Bible, Jesus is called "the living light of Christ," and so we bring this light to our homes every year. On the night of his birth in Bethlehem, the bright star in the sky which led the three kings to Jesus's manger is the inspiration for Christmas lights decorations and the most magnificent of all the lights. Put up lights inside and outside your home to signify your anticipation of Jesus.

3. Remember St. Nicholas

The tradition of gift-giving is so much a part of our Christmas culture today that we usually forget the true meaning behind it. The tradition of giving Christmas presents truly began with St. Nicholas hundreds and hundreds of years ago. His generosity inspired our current customs of leaving out stockings and awaiting the visit of Santa Claus on Christmas night. Test your St. Nicholas knowledge with our trivia quiz.

4. Avoid a Black Friday and Cyber Monday mindset

Focus on care, love, and thoughtfulness, not greed or competition when buying gifts this year. The first Christmas presents were gold, franincense, and myrrh from the Magi to the baby Jesus, and of course, the true gift of the Christmas season is God's gift of his son to the world. Instead of running from store to store in search of the perfect present for your dad, sister, or aunt, take a minute to stop and consider the real meaning behind your gift-giving. The purpose of this tradition is to show care for our loved ones. When we remember this, our mindset toward shopping completely changes.

5. Turn Moments of Frustration into Joyful Anticipation

It's inevitable that we will get frustrated "waiting" in different ways during these next few weeks: waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for a parking spot at the mall, waiting in traffic. Instead of letting these unavoidable situations get the best of us, avoid anger by taking a moment to relax and reflect on this important Advent theme of waiting. Say a prayer or thank God for all your blessings this year.

6. Start a Family Tradition

Presents are not the only way to show our family members that we love them. The most important Christmas gift is our time. When you dedicate time to spend with family during Advent, you create and continue traditions that make the season so special. Decorating the house, baking, and gift wrapping suddenly become fun activities, not chores, when the whole family gets involved.

7. Have an Advent Wreath

This is another great way to bring the light of God to your home this Advent. An Advent Wreath has four candles that you light every Sunday of Advent. A prayer is said with each one, as well. To learn more about the symbolism of Advent wreaths and how to make your own, check out our previous blog post.

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Topics: Catholic Values in Action, Family, Our Catholic Faith, Advent

Congrats! You're a College Graduate! But Life Insurance - Really?

Posted by Catholic Financial Life

May 19, 2015 11:27:00 AM

Congratulations – you finally did it! Graduating with a degree after pursuing higher education is no small feat, and you should be proud of all that you’ve done to get that piece of paper. It's a new chapter in your life. Your "real adult life" has become a reality- probably faster than you thought. You might be concerned about finding a “real-life” job so you can afford the lifestyle you've been looking forward to - a nicer car, a bigger apartment -- and of course paying off your college loans. But if your like most new college grads, you're not thinking about purchasing life insurance. (Like really?)

Graduation-1

Really--Life insurance is much more important than you think.

Here are 3 reasons why you, as a recent college graduate, should consider a life insurance policy:

  1. Student Loans. God-forbid something would happen to you. But if it did, would your parents or your future/current spouse be left with that debt. Depending on how your college loans were structured and in what state you reside, your loans might become a financial burden for someone else. Taking out a life insurance policy can help protect against this by naming him/her as the beneficiary on your policy.

  2. You’re healthy - now. Okay, so all of those late-night pizza deliveries and skipping the gym to "study" (or watch Netflix) may not have been the healthiest decisions, but you’re young and your health is to your advantage right now. Did you know that you will lock-in cheaper life insurance rates if you purchase a plan while your young and healthy. Life insurance rates increase as you age. If you're thinking of getting married, buying a house, or starting a family someday it's going to be a necessity. Why not purchase while it's less expensive?

  3. It's really pretty cheap - now. Believe it or not, life insurance is very affordable – even for graduates like you who focus on budgeting expenses. To give you an idea of how little it costs, a $250,000 20-year term life Insurance plan from Catholic Financial Life costs about $25 month - for a 25 year old! That’s less than $1 a day.* 

You can do it! Really.

If you'd like to learn more about our life insurance options, contact a Catholic Financial Life advisor in your area.

 Contact an advisor about our your retirement options

 

 

*Price of insurance is based on age, amount of coverage, type of plan, health status, and other information. This post is meant to provide general information about insurance. Catholic Financial Life is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Not all products are available in all states. Term 20 Policy Form# ICC10 TRM; 2010 TRM AR; 2010 TRM AZ; 2010 TRM CT; 2010 TRM IL; 2010 TRM ND; 2010 TRM SD.

 

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Topics: Advent, Life Insurance, Graduate, College

Of Fasts and Feasts: Advent Traditions Live On

Posted by Catholic Financial Life

Dec 15, 2014 8:00:00 AM

CFL_Advent-Animation_15For people in the northern hemisphere, Advent falls during the darkest, coldest time of the year. Before Christ was born, the last weeks of the calendar year were usually marked by feasting and revel; first, to celebrate the slow lengthening of daylight, and second, to eat up what might spoil of the harvest and celebrate the end of another growing season. The time preceding these festivals was often a time of hard work and fasting.

Many Christians still fast at some point during Advent to prepare themselves for Jesus’ coming and the feasting that will accompany his birthday. A Polish (and Polish American) custom calls for everyone to fast on Christmas Eve day, eating a traditional dinner only after the first star appears in the east. A thin wafer, usually blessed and embossed with the imprint of the Holy Family and sometimes called the Peace Wafer, is broken and distributed to members of the family and guests.Those with agricultural roots also spread straw or hay under the dinner table and tablecloth to remember the stable and manger. Christians from other cultures may fast for a day or several days of Advent, always in anticipation of the great event, Jesus’ birth, that must be celebrated with all the bounty that God has provided.

The fasts and feasts of Advent and Christmas remind us that for much of human history, we lived close to the land, raising our own food, depending upon and always thankful to God for what he provided through nature. Even before God offered us his heavenly gift of Jesus, he had been giving us our sustenance through earthly gifts. If we fasted and feasted in gratitude then, how much more must we give thanks now for the gift of Jesus?

PRAY:

Blessing of the Evening Meal: Father, we thank you for this Advent season, for the opportunity to prepare for Christ’s Mass, the birthday of your Son, Jesus. We thank you for the food set before us this night, and we praise you for providing this bounty. Please help us to remember that everything we have is from you, and we give thanks most of all for the gift of yourself, your Son. Thank you, Lord! Amen.

Sign up for our online Advent Calendar

From It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ's Mass, by Marci Alborghetti (Liturgical Press). Visit www.litpress.org for more information.

 

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Topics: Our Catholic Faith, Advent

Lift Up Your Voice - Offer Christ Your Songs this Season

Posted by Catholic Financial Life

Dec 12, 2014 8:00:00 AM

carollingWe can’t remember a time when Christmas carols and hymns were not an integral part of this season. And with good reason: there were music and lyrics celebrating the birth of Jesus almost from the beginning. Songs and chants of praise were composed soon after Jesus’ crucifixion and ascension, and shortly they were also offered to praise his birth. Saint Francis’s living mangers were often set to music.

Musical and liturgical scholars may argue over what constitutes a true carol—indeed, some claim that the song honoring our young friend King Wenceslas doesn’t meet the standards—but for those who enjoy Christmas music, it doesn’t really matter. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we hear songs in stores, on the radio, at church, during school plays and pageants, in symphony performances, and just about everywhere else. Even the goofy or annoying songs—which actually aren’t carols!—may bring a smile if heard at the right moment. The very best carols thrill us to our souls with their promise and resonant hope.

The word carol means a joyful dance that is set to music. That is fitting since the first true Christmas songs were those offered by the heavenly host of angels, dancing in the sky and proclaiming Jesus’ holy birth. And the very first lyrics of praise marking Jesus’ nativity were uttered by Jews. Later set to musical scores by some of the world’s greatest composers, the Magnificat—Mary’s prayer upon hearing Elizabeth’s greeting—is rich with imagery of anticipation and rejoicing. God, she says in Luke 1:54-55, “has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” This is nothing less than proclaiming Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Jews.

How can we not sing?

ACT:

Organize a Christmas carol gathering with family, friends, church members, and/or coworkers. Select a range of songs and don’t get too professional about it. Sing your hearts out whether in your own homes, for neighbors, or, better yet, at a hospital, homeless shelter, or convalescent home.

Sign up for our online Advent Calendar

From It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ's Mass, by Marci Alborghetti (Liturgical Press). Visit www.litpress.org for more information.

 

Related Posts:

Advent: Keep the Season Holy - Focus on Joyful Anticipation

Making Advent Meaningful

The Presence in Presents

Yes Virginia, There is...

 



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Topics: Our Catholic Faith, Advent

Living Light of Christ

Posted by Catholic Financial Life

Dec 10, 2014 10:27:00 AM

146910728Granted, some may go overboard, but for the most part, people enjoy Christmas lights. Whether it’s a stately home aglow with simple white lights and a spotlight on the door, or a full treatment with colorful lights twinkling on and off around a giant version of Santa, Christmas lights are an American tradition.Even the gaudiest production is usually good for a grin or an eye roll, and some extravaganzas are truly awe-inducing.

But no Christmas light display is more awe-inspiring than the original upon which they are all based. The Christmas star that rose in the east and came to rest over the place where Jesus was with Mary and Joseph is the first and most magnificent of all Christmas lights.Just as it led the wise men to Jesus, so it has inspired the faithful to “light up the night” in anticipation of Christmas.

Jesus Christ is our light, and it is fitting that the original worshipers found him by a star, and that we seek to emulate that first powerful light with our many weaker, even sillier, lights every Advent. After all, isn’t it the darkest time of the year? Isn’t it the time we crave light and lightheartedness? Isn’t it the time that,without the advent of Jesus’ birth, we would struggle mightily against the darkness of the land and our own hearts to find meaning and hope?

And so we light up our lives—and our windows, homes, stores, and public buildings—to show God that we are ready and waiting.

ACT:

Light anything! Your window, a Christmas tree, your house and/or yard. Light (carefully!) a candle or two, or buy electric or battery-operated candles to keep a safe glow going all night. On a clear night, look up into the sky and imagine what it was like for the people in the Middle East over two thousand years ago to see that amazing light. Be amazed. Be excited. Be lit up within yourself.

 

Related Posts:

Advent: Keep the Season Holy - Focus on Joyful Anticipation

Making Advent Meaningful

 

From It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christ's Mass, by Marci Alborghetti (Liturgical Press). Visit www.litpress.org for more information.

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Topics: Our Catholic Faith, Advent