Hope, peace, joy, and love. Amidst the chaotic preparation for the Christmas season as well as the frantic work leading up to exams, St. Louis U. High has stepped back to focus on helping students appreciate the importance of Advent.
While most students have spent the past week and will spend this next week preparing for exams, Advent is a time for preparing ourselves for a much more important event: the coming of Jesus. Advent also allows us to step away from our lives and recognize the work that Jesus has done.
“Christmas is the celebration of the first coming of Christ, the anticipation of the final coming of Christ, and the recognition that Christ arrives in our lives every day. To celebrate the past, live the present, and anticipate the future requires some preparation and so Advent is a season of preparation for our hearts,” said Principal Fr. Matthew Stewart, SJ.
Advent is a joyous time of celebration at SLUH and the school goes about celebrating it in many ways.
“There’s two main things that I really like about our Advent celebration,” said Head of Campus Ministry Brian Gilmore. “There’s the Christmas Drive and I really like the morning and afternoon prayers that the school does during this time. It focuses on what we could be doing to celebrate and prepare, which I think is really important especially during a busy time like this.”
Advent is often overlooked by students amidst the frenzy of studying and preparing for the end of the semester. It is because of this that students must be able to take a break to celebrate the four virtues of the Advent wreath, which are symbolic of the season: hope, peace, joy, and love.
“Advent and academic calendars are at deep odds with one another. Advent is peace and quiet while the academic calendar is telling students to study and finish exams, papers, and projects,” said Stewart. “What I would say to students is that Advent is a great reminder at this time of the year to be unplugged for a moment or go do something nice for somebody.”
One way that SLUH is allowing for students to enter into the season of Advent is through adoration and Reconciliation. Every theology class will spend a period in the temporary chapel in the theater lounge in a quiet time of prayer. This time allows students to step back from the busy rush of their life to reflect on Advent.
“Personally, I just need to find quiet space to slow down and set aside my issues to get into what’s really going on inside me,” said theology teacher Rob Gargavalia. “Advent is about how we can prepare ourselves to meet Christ and quiet reflection allows us to better do this.”
Although the holidays are a busy time for all of us, especially with family visiting and gift buying, Advent is all about looking at what truly matters around this time of year.
“We all talk about decorating this and decorating that,” said theology teacher Dick Wehner. “But we should not forget the true meaning that it all points to. We don’t just celebrate Christmas because it’s fun, there’s a deeper meaning that we should all recognize.”
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