Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent: A Season of Preparation

Christ has come. Christ is coming now. Christ will come again. During Advent we meditate in a special way on these three statements. We prepare our hearts to remember Christ's first coming when we celebrate His birth on Christmas Day. We prepare our hearts to receive Christ right now when He comes to us in the Eucharist and in the thousands of other ways He comes to us every day. We prepare our hearts for Christ's coming at the end of our lives when we will meet Him face to face and for His coming in glory at the end of time when He will judge the whole world and usher in a new Heaven and a new earth.

Our Advent preparations help our hearts and minds grasp the beauty, the reality, and the mystery of Christ's coming, so we should plan them and perform them with care and reverence. Below are a few suggestions to make this Advent spiritually meaningful.

1. Read the Bible every single day. The daily Mass readings are available online at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, and they are ideal for Advent reflection. If possible, also choose one of the Gospels and read it slowly over the next few weeks.

2. Pray the Bible. Don't just read the Bible; interact with God through His Word. Read slowly, several times as necessary, to really understand each passage. Meditate on the words. Listen to them with your heart, and think about what they reveal about God, His actions in the world, and His love for His people. Pray back to God with blessing and adoration, praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and petition. Then be still and listen to God's voice as He speaks from the depths of your soul. 

3. Find and use a good set of Advent meditations. Many churches provide Advent booklets for parishioners to take home, but you may prefer one of the many online resources available. Try those at EWTN or the email reflections provided by Fr. Robert Barron.

4. Go to Mass every Sunday and more often if possible. Don't just be present in body; be present in mind, heart, and soul. Pay attention to this most Holy Sacrifice. Greet Jesus warmly when He becomes present on the altar and especially when He enters into you in Holy Communion. Really pray the Mass. 

5. Increase your devotion to the Eucharist. Jesus comes to us right now in the Eucharist. Focus on the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Read about, study, and meditate on this great mystery. Visit the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association website for theological meditations, personal testimonies, and information about Eucharistic miracles.

6. Examine your prayer life and make changes as necessary. Pray at least ten minutes a day if you aren't already. Discipline your mind to limit wandering and lack of attention. Add something new to freshen up your prayer routine (begin praying the Rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet every day, start a prayer journal, or try the Liturgy of the Hours).

7. Receive the sacrament of Confession. Even if you haven't committed any mortal sins, the sacrament immerses you in God's forgiveness and grace and gives you a fresh start.

8. Quiet your heart as much as possible and remain in the presence of God. Try not to get too distracted by the busyness and materialism of the world, especially when you are constantly bombarded by advertisements and advice about creating the perfect Christmas. Give your Advent and your Christmas to God. Prepare with Him, in Him, and for Him. Only then will you discover the true meaning of the season: Christ has come. Christ is coming now. Christ will come again.


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  2. Thank you for these excellent and timely tips. I was looking for some ideas for Advent and these are perfect. Just discovered your blog and have been enjoying your profound insight and meditations.