Tomorrow marks 40 days prior to the Nativity of Our Lord. In the Eastern Church, this is a period of fasting known as the Nativity Fast or St. Phillip's Fast.
There are various means by which Christians in the Eastern traditions practice this preparatory period before the Feast of the Birth of Christ. It is suggested that, at minimum, the faithful should eat less and abstain from meat (and possibly dairy and oil) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during this period. Some abstain from these foods during the entire period and some add fasting (defined as not eating from midnight until noon) as well.
Have a counter-cultural Christmas
Christianity is indeed a counter-cultural way of life. The culture of the world tells us that beginning after October, life is all about focusing on consumerism and gluttony. Are you a Christian? Pray for God's strength to resist the temptation to buy into this world's attitude toward this Holy season. Be a witness to the world.
Going vegan during Advent is a great way of becoming conscious of what and how much we consume. Are we truly preparing for the birth of Jesus in our hearts, or are we stuffing our hunger for Christ? Are we relying on food to give us peace, or are we running to the Heart of Jesus for comfort?
This season is a traditional time for thinking of others. Starting around now, many churches and organizations begin collecting food and other goods for the poor. Fasting and abstaining from certain foods, while giving to some of these good causes serves to heighten our awareness of the great need of many across the world, as well as the great excess that most of us in the West enjoy. Be sure to give of your time, talent and treasure to the poor during this time.
Let's make this season about focusing on our love for Christ and preparing for His birth in our hearts. Fast from extra sleep in order to get up a bit earlier to make morning Mass. Pray morning and evening prayer or pray the Rosary (especially the Joyful Mysteries.) Meditate on the day's Scripture readings. Start a prayer/meditation/Scripture journal. Say the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner) repeatedly throughout the day.
Prepare to receive Christ in a special way this Christmas.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!