By Sister Mary Core, OSB
For most of contemporary society, Advent gets lost in the season of shopping. People rush through malls and big box stores, loading gifts into baskets, buying more than they can afford and collapsing in exhaustion when they get home.
Which is why – if you were to come to St. Mary Monastery now – you might be surprised to find no Christmas trees, lights or sparkle. (Of course, those do come later!)
That’s because we’re preparing for Christmas here. We’re focusing on Advent!
For these 4 weeks, we grow excited in our anticipation of God. We listen extra-deeply. We reflect and contemplate and … wait. And that’s not just a bunch of words. For us, it’s intensely personal and real.
We listen for the small, still voice. We listen for God.
What is Advent?
Advent literally translates from the Latin as “to come.” It means more than the coming of Christmas, although that’s certainly one meaning.
Advent means the coming of tomorrow, of Christ’s birth, of Christ’s return. It means the coming of Christ in our hearts.
Advent happens over and over. It reminds us that all is new, beginning, fresh. Every moment of every day.
Advent is a liturgical season that gives us a focused time to prepare for God.
How to make the most of Advent
Like the Benedictine Sisters, make time daily to sit with God. (Join us if you are nearby, for Liturgy of the Hours and/or Eucharist! Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina are other prayers that we practice. Reading, walking in nature, listening to music and other quiet activities all are wonderful ways to open yourself to God.)
Ask yourself these questions:
What am I preparing for? What do I need to do to get ready? Maybe you need to forgive someone. Maybe you need to become more mindful of God in others. Maybe you need to be kinder.
What am I decorating my house for? Should I also decorate my heart? What shall I use for decorations?
What shall I give of myself this season? What heart time, elbow grease, self, am I willing to commit?
How am I preparing each day for God to call me home? Am I living my call?
A final thought …
The truth is, our batteries get a little low sometimes. If we’re really about what God wants us to be – about listening and being responsible to our calling – Advent is a wonderful time to recharge.
Don’t let Advent get lost this year in all the bustle and aggravation of acquisition. Use it. Treasure it. Grow from it.
Seek to arrive at the place where, every day, you retain awareness of God, and of how you’re living your call.
And prepare for the rest of your life.