We have the gift of this short, powerful season of Advent to heed the message of God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ. Are we ready? This is the time to take the message to heart and put it into practice.
Jesus offers a parable to the disciples about being alert and prepared, reminding us that preparation is a part of our daily life…and reveals our wisdom when we put it into practice.
The Lord urges his disciples to be awake and prepared. Every day we have opportunities to stay “spiritually fit” as we call upon God’s grace for the demands we encounter.
The season of Lent offers a powerful opportunity for conversion, spiritual growth, and developing our relationships with the Lord and one another. However, I also know that this season has a way of sneaking up on us. Life moves fast, and we can get caught up in any number of tasks – missing the necessary preparation and perspective to get the most out of these 40 Days.
As a guide, I suggest starting with the “Fruits of the Spirit” that St. Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23). They are:
First, do we see these in our lives? Are there people, situations, interactions, locations (home, work, school, community) where we see consistent evidence of their presence? If so, then how can we help them flourish and grow? How can we create more opportunities to allow the Spirit to work in our lives?
Second, are these absent in our lives? Or worse, are their opposites present? Is hatred, despair, turmoil, and the like alive in our hearts? If so, how can we make the necessary changes to allow the Spirit into our lives?
Now here’s how this gets practical. It is often customary during Lent to “do” something or “give up” something for these 40 days. How about this…
Where do we look? Try this for starters…
“Doing” can include any number of things:
“Giving up” can look like this:
Using the “Fruits of the Spirit” as a measurement, we can quickly reveal the pattern of our lives. If it is spiritually fruitful, then we can strengthen this. If it is spiritually destructive, then perhaps this season of Lent gives us an opportunity to give it up and start directing our lives in better ways.
Furthermore, Lent has classic opportunities for Study, Prayer, and Service:
Study: Scripture, the Catechism, a Devotional, Spiritual Reading
Prayer: Mass, Confession, Rosary, Scripture, Devotions, Stations of the Cross
Service: at home, the neighborhood, the community, the Church
God keeps inviting, keeps forgiving, and keeps extending grace and mercy to all who seek it. Now is the time to get ready for a powerful Lent – where we turn to Jesus and allow His grace to transform our hearts. Give serious thought to what you can do to make this season special, and open your to heart to Jesus Christ.
What will you do? What will you give up? Make it a great Lent!
Note: This post was originally published on February 26, 2014.
When you cook, you need a certain amount of time to get prepared: clear the work space; make an ingredients list; set out your utensils and cookware. In a similar way we need time and attention to prepare to encounter Jesus Christ in our spiritual lives. May the example of John the Baptist inspire us to make the necessary preparations we need, and empower us to help others encounter the Lord as well.
Study: Consider an experience where you were able to be still, pause and reflect. How can you make that pattern happen this Advent?
Pray: Carve out a few minutes this season for quiet prayer. Reflect on your life and invite the Lord to dwell in your heart.
Serve: There are many opportunities this time of year to help others. Look around for an activity that speaks to your soul.
Advent is one of those seasons that has the power to surprise us. Just like the relationship between Lent and Easter, Advent offers us a time to prepare our hearts for the great feast of Christmas. In this short season we discover the themes of Preparation, Waiting, Expectation, Repentance, and Stillness.
The thing is…if we aren’t ready for Advent then the whirlwind rush of December can sweep us up into the frenzy of the commercial side of the holiday. Many people are so busy – concerts, parties, family events, purchasing gifts and partaking of the “forced fun” of consumerism’s attempt at a Hallmark Christmas…
Whew! Instead, we can take a deep breath, pray, and reflect on where the Lord is leading us at this moment in our lives. Consider the readings this Sunday:
So in these short days of preparation here are a few questions to ponder:
You get the idea. Step back, pause, and consider in the busy pace that many of us call normal how the Lord is directing your heart. Advent has a beauty and power; our task is to enter into this season and allow God to speak to our souls.
All of the Scripture readings evoke a call to action; we are invited to get ready, be prepared, and attentive to the Lord and one another. May this Advent season – a gift of the Church – help us all to get our hearts and minds ready for the birth of Jesus Christ!