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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mini-Lent

Advent is coming up much more quickly than I realized, and I'm grateful.

There's such a juxtaposition about what this liturgical season is about in comparison to the craziness of the world raging around us. Christmas songs are already playing, have been for weeks now. Some people already have their Christmas decorations out and lit up in all their glory.

There are already celebrations planned, festivities underway....and our culture hasn't even taken time to take stock of what this is really about.

Advent, for we Catholics, is a chance to retreat from the world, to slow down, and take a look at our lives. To consider the messianic prophecies, the people holding their breath, waiting for their Savior. And to, like Mary, ponder those things in our hearts, and see what we need to change in order to be more accessable to Christ.

That's right; Christ is already accessable. We're the ones who cut Him off and refuse to see Him.

I'm looking forward to Advent. Even though my own life will continue to be crazy, there's a certain disposition I've found can be cultivated. There's something in the spirituality of the season that aids me in "withdrawing".

So much of my life is so out of control that when Advent and Lent come around, as others are groaning, I'm rejoicing. For some reason, I can engage in penitential practices that I can't seem to do at other times of the year. There's something about the penitential seasons that literally gives me the strength to become more disciplined and to focus more purely on the source of all strength: Jesus.

It's as if for a moment in time, it's just He and I. He is standing at the end of a long corridor, and there's no one there but us. I just have to keep moving towards him. Outside there could be raging storms, raging shoppers, crazy carnival Christmas music at war with a raging ACLU...and it's unimportant.

It makes me think that if I could be a hermit during Advent, it would be easier, but the again, maybe it's important to see the contrast. To withdraw while still in the world, trying not to be of it. And from that perspective, it's a lot easier to see where the important priorities lie.

Advent, as a penitential season, isn't as strict as Lent, but for a few years now I've tried to copy the things I do during Lent anyway. Because I need to. My prayers are different, and my focus is different, but the same types of practices work to provide the same kinds of benefits.

If you haven't considered that option before, try it. We're already supposed to be fasting from something on Fridays, anyway (that was not changed by Vatican II), but can we maybe fast from something more than usual? Every lent, we give up some legitimate good; why NOT do the same thing during Advent? During Advent we regularly give alms; it is a season for giving, but if we give up something else we love, can we give more TO those Christ has told us we must love?

The possibilities are endless...and the season is short. Take advantage of the respite. Look at the insanity of the world...and realize the peace only found in Christ.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last year was the first year I did a penitential practice during Advent, and I loved it. It really helped me to focus on Jesus instead of the secularization and materialism of the season.

This year, I've decided to drink only water (foregoing all of my diet colas, iced teas, and of course glasses of wine). Every time I take a drink, I will be reminded of Jesus.

In addition to fasting and almsgiving, I am also going to read Matthew, one chapter a day, and spend some time meditating on it. I've been feeling called to study Matthew lately, and this seems the perfect season to do so.

Happy Advent, Adoro!

Catherine Lucia said...

Adoro & Anonymous, that's inspiring. I think I wil join you both somehow.

Thank you so much.

CL

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks, Anon, that's a good idea. I often drink only water anyway, but I can easily eliminate the occasions where I drink "fun" thinks like pop or wine or something else. (I still need milk and juice, though for my own health!) Even small sacrifices help.


I hope your sacrifices make reading Matthew more fruitful for you! Happy Advent!

CL ~ A few years ago someone else inspired me to make Advent more penitential in practice It does work! :-)

Catherine Lucia said...

Thanks again--and I may try the daily Bible meditations too. I do pray the Liturgy of the Hours, but I'd like to keep it specific by choosing a particular book to meditate on.

We'll see! :-)

Anonymous said...

For us Catholics, it is wonderful to encounter such lovely and timely writing about the season of Advent. Thank you.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

I'm still formulating my Advent plan. I need to get on it!