“For by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming" (CCC 524).
Every year, right before Advent begins, I begin to wonder what God is asking me to focus on during the Advent season. How is He asking me to prepare? The answer always comes to reveal itself to me, and this year was no different.
Have you ever called your child to come to you… and they were so busy they didn’t even hear you? “Jooooseeeeph, come heeeree,” you call in that sing-song voice. Nothing. “Oh, Joooooseph, I said come here,” you chime out, a little louder this time. Finally, you find yourself shouting across the house, “JOSEPH, I SAID COME HERE RIGHT NOW!!!!” Everything stops. Everyone knows that little Joseph had best present himself promptly.
This was the scene this morning in my home. Bingo! This is what God is asking me to focus on this Advent. How often am I too busy to hear God calling me? How many times does He sing-song my name and I ignore Him, until, finally, He screams loud enough that I am forced to pay attention? “God calls man first… the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer" (8). God calls man first. How can I work towards hearing Him the first time He calls me?
Saint John of the Cross reminds me of more matter to be attended to: fasting. “If you purify your soul of attachment to and desire for things, you will understand them spiritually.” Fast from distraction.
What distracts me? What can we cut out to make time and upgrade the spiritual life of our household? I can think of a few things.
Prayer is vital to maintaining a personal relationship with God. We simply must lift our minds and our hearts to God at all times. “Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5:16-17).
Sometimes, I find that I have been simply checking off the boxes, but not really sitting and devoting my mind to prayer. Yikes. That feels like a bit of a half-hearted effort, even though we know there will be seasons of experiencing dryness.
Other times, I find that I have been devoted to my prayers, but I have not tended to the kids’ prayers. But, it is my responsibility to tend to these things. Slowly, we can get to finding a better balance. There is always room for improvement.
“Know that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace.” St. Alphonsus Ligouri
Time spent in Adoration? That one could use some attention this Advent. “Make the kids Adoration binders” gets added to my to-do list. We have not had very much success here. If they can behave through daily Mass (mostly… There are days this is certainly not the case), then surely we can work our way up to thirty minutes before the Blessed Sacrament!
“One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up… One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer” (CCC 2710). Contemplative prayer could use some upgrades, too.
One makes time for the Lord. I would benefit from giving our schedule some updates. It is so easy to slowly slip into busying myself with trivial matters, forgetting that God is the top priority. Everything else ought to be scheduled after I have set aside time for God. Okay, I can do this one! Schedules, routines, rhythms… that is my bread and butter. Find more time for God!
Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for Jesus. The four main themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love are met with the ultimate theme: Christ.