As the calendar year draws to a close, family schedules and personal agendas fill with meetings, programs, parties, and annual obligations. The carol "Silent Night" could not have been written at the end of the twentieth century, when its title evokes the peace and stillness modern women and men can only imagine.
Yet this busiest time of year calls us to draw close to others, above all to God, who became flesh and lived with us. Contemplation and car pooling?! Meditation and manic shopping?! How do we carve out moments of quiet when we open ourselves to God's presence?
Perhaps we have to lower our sights from hours spent around hearths and lengthy readings or litanies. Between traffic jams and parking lot crushes, scribbling holiday notes and decking our halls, there may still be ten minutes - or even five - when the family (which may mean something as informal as those who share meals and lodging) can sit quietly around the lighted Advent wreath. Once a day, once a week, or perhaps only once during the Season of Preparation.
Someone we know pampers herself and her family by baking a simple recipe for gingerbread. As the spicy smell fills the kitchen, the household comes together to light the Advent candles, to pray and meditate briefly, and to enjoy a homely feast. It brings them closer together and closer to the mysteries we contemplate and celebrate in Advent.
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake!...You do not know when the Master of the house is coming.'" Mark. 13:33 First Sunday of Advent
O Jesus, your voice sounds through the house of my world: Be on your guard! Stay awake!
Yet I hardly hear you. Busy with so much, I go about the things I do like a servant trapped in household routine, hardly giving a thought to what my life is about. My spirit within has grown tired and you, my God, seem far away. How can I hear your voice today?
Speak to my heart during this season of grace, as you spoke to your prophets and saints. Remind me again of the journey you call me to make and the work you would have me do. I am your servant, O Lord. Speak to me in this holy season and turn my eyes to watch for your coming.
Week of Advent
When John the Baptizer made his appearance as a preacher in the desert of Judea, this was his them: Reform your lives. The reign of God is at hand!" Mt. 3:1 Second Sunday of Advent
O Jesus, in an empty desert your prophet John proclaimed: God is here, at your side. God has come to bring about a kingdom where injustice and suffering will be no more, where tears will be wiped away, and where those who turn to God will feast at a banquet.
"Turn now, your God is standing at your side. Reform your lives, God's kingdom is at hand." In an empty desert John said these things.
Give me faith like John's, O Lord, strong enough to believe even in a desert that you and your kingdom are no farther from me than my hand. Make my heart strong like his, not swayed by trials or snared by false pleasures. Give me courage to be faithful until your promises are fulfilled.
of all nations, Jesus Christ,
Week of Advent
John's disciples said to Jesus, "Are you 'He who is to come' or do we look for another?" In reply, Jesus said: "Tell John what you hear and see: the blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, and the poor have good news preached to them..." Lk. 3:10 Third Week of Advent
O Jesus, I rejoice at the signs that say you are near. Your power is everywhere if I could see it.
Yet my eyes often see only darkness and what has yet to be done. I believe in you, yet when I look around evil seems so strong and goodness so weak. If you have come, why is there still so much suffering and why do the poor still despair? Where are your miracles today?
Your grace, O Lord, is more fruitful in my world than I imagine. I know your power is everywhere around me, if I could only see it. Show me today where the blind see and cripples walk.
Make my vision sharper than it is.
The angel Gabriel said to Mary, "Do not fear, Mary, you shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High..." Lk. 1 Fourth Sunday of Advent
O Jesus, I believe you were born of Mary and are God's Son.
Your mysterious coming is beyond understanding. Yet like your holy mother, Mary, I wish that you come to me, for you promised you will. Let me serve you in any way I can and know that you are with me day by day as my life goes by.
Like Mary, your mother, though I know you only by faith, may my whole being proclaim your greatness and my spirit rejoice in your favor to me.
holy Word of God, Jesus Christ,
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