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Advent is a season which is all about preparation. All around us we can see signs of this preparation taking place – whether it is the Christmas lights going up in our High Streets or the Christmas advertisements on the television.

The problem is that while we spend a lot of time preparing our homes during Advent, often we spend a lot less time preparing our hearts to make a suitable home for Jesus at Christmas.

It is worth remembering that when Jesus was born he was born into poverty. Mary and Joseph had been forced to leave their home in Nazareth to travel towards Bethlehem, a town they barely knew and where they had nowhere to stay.

Jesus’ birth took place in poverty in a dirty cave surrounded by farm animals. But this was all part of God’s plan to show that Jesus’ message was one which was available to everybody, regardless of their status or their wealth.

It was shepherds who were the first to pay homage to the infant Jesus and the shepherds represent all of us who do our best to follow our Saviour Jesus Christ.

So as well as putting up all the Christmas decorations, one of the ways in which we can make this Advent season special is by going deeper in our Catholic faith: by having a holy Advent calendar in our homes, by saying some extra prayers, by using the scripture passages in the Walk with Me and Day by Day booklets available in your parishes. All of these help us to grow in our faith and our love of Jesus who came into our world and continues to work in our lives through His Church.