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Advent Challenge 2017

BE STILL – LISTEN – RECONCILE

You deserve an AMAZING Advent this year. Seriously! Don’t sell yourself short with any excuses along the lines of:

  • “I always start living Advent prayerfully and with the best of intentions but then suddenly I wake up and it’s Christmas Eve. Lent is more effective for my spiritual life.”
  • “This is a crazy month for [insert most relevant: our family, my work, school, social commitments]. I love Advent, but I need to concentrate on everything coming up, so spiritual life will have to take the back burner this year.”

No, not so fast! Give yourself permission to invest in a great Advent that will let God fill you with deep Christmas joy and peace. To get inspired, we highly recommend this six-and-a-half-minute video.

So let’s get down to business. We propose investing in your Advent through the following triple challenge:

BE STILL

Jesus came into the world in silence and stillness, unnoticed. Nazareth is a place of peacefulness and recollection.  To enter there with Mary and Joseph, you need to quiet down your soul.  This Advent, try to foster exterior and interior silence each day in order to better perceive the presence of God.  Reflecting on the Annunciation to Mary and the Incarnation of Christ, one of the most important moments in all of history, yet one that happened without any witnesses and without being reported on in any kind of mass media, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

“That which is truly great grows unnoticed, and silence at the right moment is more fruitful than the constant busyness that all too easily degenerates into spiritual idling.  In the present age, [. . ] we are all possessed by a strange restlessness that suspects any silence of being a waste of time and any tranquility of being negligence.  Every bit of time is weighed and measured, and in the process we forget the real mystery of time, the real mystery present in growth and activity.  That mystery involves silence and stillness.”  (Dogma and Preaching: Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life, 2011, p. 326)

How can you achieve more silence during Advent, especially since it naturally tends to be one of the most hectic times of year and the kids are on Winter Break(!)?  Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t play music in your car. When you listen to music at other moments, mark out some times that you will choose classical or chant selections with the intention of fostering peace and recollection.
  • Watch less TV. Eliminate the most superficial shows. Select one or two important news articles to read each day instead of watching the news.
  • Take a daily smartphone break. Put it, or yourself, on a strict TIME OUT.
  • Pray the rosary while you exercise or while you exercise the dog.
  • Pick an hour of the day when you will really think about what you are going to say before you say it and choose your words wisely, according to what will really bless others.

LISTEN

“The fruit of silence is prayer,” noted Mother Teresa. When you live more exterior silence you can start to hear the voice of Christ interiorly. Carve out 10 minutes a day this Advent for silence with Jesus.  In these few minutes read the Gospel of the day (see the other side of the page for a quick guide for how to do Lectio Divina). Click here to sign up to receive the Gospel reflections of Bishop Robert Barron. We recommend the 45-minute talk “Lectio Divina” by Tim Gray on FORMED. Make your own FORMED profile using St. Mary’s parish code: YW8CCT

Guide to LECTIO DIVINA

FIRST METHOD

  1. Find a quiet place in your home or at church. Enter into God’s presence. Breathe deeply. Invoke the name of Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.
  2. Read the Gospel one time. Then read it a second time, more slowly. You can also read the commentary from Bishop Barron.
  3. Choose one line or word to remember from the Gospel. Read that line again, slowly. Savor it like a rich piece of chocolate. Underline it and/or write it next to the date on your Advent Lectio Log.
  4. Talk to Jesus about what you read. Listen to him.
  5. See how to put the Gospel in practice during this day.

SECOND METHOD

After you read the Gospel a second time (you may still want to focus on a certain line), spend some time thinking and conversing with Jesus about the following three questions:

  1. What does this Gospel say (what is God saying to all people at all times in it)?
  2. What does this Gospel say to me (how is God addressing me in my situation right now through this Gospel)?
  3. What do I say to this Gospel (how do I respond by living what God has spoken to me)?

RECONCILE

“The fruit of prayer is faith,” Mother Theresa continued. The fruit of faith is love.” Sometimes we grow distant from someone in our community, work or family. Take this Advent as a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. Christmas is a good time to mend some of our relationships, to put love where it may be lacking. Pray for your enemies. Write a letter. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for one reason or another. If you need some encouragement you can listen to the talk “Anger and Forgiveness” by Deacon Bob McDonald (also available on formed.org under Listen). Also this is a good time for a deep reconciliation with God. Check out below the extra reconciliation times for Advent at St. Mary’s.

SOME IMPORTANT DATES THIS ADVENT

  • Dec 16: Mini-Retreat
    • Saturday
    • Time: 9am-12pm
    • Location: Church
    • Confession: 10am-12pm
    • Speaker: Sr. Isabel
    • Topic: Christian Joy
  • Dec 20: Advent Penance Service
    • Wednesday
    • Time: 7pm
    • Location: Church