On the last leg of this Advent journey, I’d like to share with you two little bits of spiritual nourishment that I have found really helpful along the way. We are getting closer and closer to Bethlehem now, just one week away in this shortened Advent season. Can you feel the pace picking up? The to-do lists rattling around in our heads, preparing for company coming, last-minute gifts we meant to buy months ago…and now just one week left!
Here’s two simple spiritual practices I invite you to do this week – May they help you prepare your heart inwardly for the arrival of the Christ Child, that this inner preparation may spill into your practical preparation, your relationships, and your home this Christmas.
What’s weighing you down, fellow pilgrim?
We can take the spiritual tone for this last week from our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, traveling as pilgrims to the Bethlehem. What a clear invitation of how we are to approach Christ’s manger! As pilgrims, traveling light, leaving all unnecessary things behind, and moving towards God. The poverty of the Holy Family invites us to consider – what is weighing us down during this last week of Advent? What do we need to let go of to make room in our hearts for the Christ Child? An old grudge perhaps? A bitterness against a loved one? A bruised ego? Or perhaps our grip on our possession is too tight? Or we’re watching too much Netflix?
Remembering towards Whom we are journeying orders our every day life in a totally new way, and can give us to courage to let go of whatever is weighing down our souls that we might be open and ready to receive Him again at Christmas.
The Holy Father reminds us of this:
“The journey is never finished…Just as in each of our own lives, there is always a need to restart, to rise again, to recover a sense of the goal of one’s own existence.” (See more here)
What can you give up this last week of Advent? What is Jesus calling you to let go of?
Where in your life do you need the Light of Christ?
On many accounts, 2017 been a difficult year. We none of us need to look far to see signs of darkness, suffering, or confusion. As we prepare our hearts in this spirit of pilgrimage and poverty (in the midst of anything but!) and give Jesus these renunciations as little acts of love, let us also boldly ask Jesus for a gift as well – for the gift of His Light! This is what we will celebrate at Christmas, the Incarnation of God made man: Light from Light, True God from True God. Jesus directly called himself “the light of the world”, saying that “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
So where do we long for the Light of Christ to shine in our lives? Take a few minutes this week to really answer this question. Where are we feeling downtrodden, lost or depressed? Is there darkness surrounding a certain decision we have to make? Are any of our relationships suffering from confusion or a lack of clarity? Let us ask with the confidence of a child for Christ to fill this part of our lives with His divine Light this Christmas season.
The light of Christ which we see strongly symbolized in our seasonal traditions (Advent wreaths, Christmas lights and festive candles, etc) is a a great symbol of hope. The light shining in the darkness always speaks to us of hope and new beginnings. Pope Francis invites us to journey towards hope this Advent season:
“For the great human family it is necessary to renew always the common horizon toward which we are journeying. The horizon of hope! This is the horizon that makes a good journey…The time of Advent that we begin again today returns us to the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God. A hope that does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful!” (source same as above)
May our Blessed Mother help us on this journey and make room in our hearts for her Son, and may she, the great Bearer of the Light of the World, form us to be
transparent of the Light of Christ, that we may radiate His joy to all those in need this Christmas.
May you have a blessed last week of Advent, and a very merry Christmas!
Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the pow’rs of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.
— Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent, Advent Hymn