Editor’s note: Former DCSC volunteer Alessia Catena celebrates day 21 of Advent with a reflection on the word ‘birth’. 

I have always struggled with Advent—the idea of waiting for the birth of Christ and preparing our hearts for His arrival seemed a little fictitious. Like the characters in a Nativity play, I’ve always felt like I was playing a role, pretending and not really living it honestly. I thought it might have been because I didn’t know how to truly prepare my heart for the coming of the Lord, wishing there were step-by-step instructions to follow. How was I to put myself in that mindset when I’ve never experienced anything truly like it?

This Advent season things changed for me. 

On November 25th of this year, my husband and I welcomed our daughter into the world, an experience I will never forget, accompanied by feelings I will forever cherish. After nine long months of waiting and preparing, we finally got to hold this beautiful gift from God in our arms! The amount of love I felt was overwhelming, to say the least. It was only then that I realized the impact that all the waiting and preparing really had. It made receiving that gift all the more precious and joyful. 

I have since had a small revelation: how analogous the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual preparation that took place during those nine months of waiting for the birth of our child are to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual preparation we are called to make during the Advent season as we await the birth of the child Jesus! This “aha moment” of mine allowed me to view this season with more understanding and appreciation than ever before. I simply need to prepare my life for the arrival of the Lord the way I prepared it for the arrival of my own child. For nine months I got ready to welcome this pure and innocent little life into my own and this Advent season I’m again preparing to welcome purity and innocence into my heart. For welcoming the Lord into my heart is asking him to create new life within me (not literally, but spiritually). This Advent is making me look forward to the birth of Christ like I never had before—with so much excitement and anticipation because I now know how much joy the gift of His birth will bring to my heart.