Three Advent Practices

December 11, 2019

By request, I am re-posting the Bishop Barron article from last year, Three Advent Practices. For your consideration:

What practically can we do during the season of waiting and vigil keeping? What are some practices that might incarnate for us the spirituality described here?

How about the classically Catholic discipline of eucharistic adoration? To spend a half-hour or an hour in the presence of the Lord is not to accomplish or achieve very much—it is not really “getting” anywhere—but it is a particularly rich form of spiritual waiting.

As you keep vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, bring to Christ some problem or dilemma that you have been fretting over, and then pray Lola’s prayer: “Ich warte, ich warte.” Say, “Lord, I’m waiting for you to solve this, to show me the way out, the way forward. I’ve been running, planning, worrying, but now I’m going to let you work.” Then, throughout Advent, watch attentively for signs.

Also, when you pray before the Eucharist, allow your desire for the things of God to intensify; allow your heart and soul to expand. Pray, “Lord, make me ready to receive the gifts you want to give,” or even, “Lord Jesus, surprise me.”

A second—and more offbeat—suggestion: Do a jigsaw puzzle. Find one of those big, complex puzzles with thousands of small pieces, one that requires lots of time and plenty of patience, and make of it an Advent project. As you assemble the puzzle think of each piece as some aspect of your life: a relationship, a loss, a failure, a great joy, an adventure, a place where you lived, something you shouldn’t have said, an act of generosity. So often the events of our lives seem like the thousand pieces of a puzzle lying incoherently and disconnectedly before us. As you patiently put the puzzle together meditate on the fact that God is slowly, patiently, according to his own plan and purpose, ordering the seemingly unrelated and incongruous events of our lives into a picture of great beauty.

Finally, take advantage of traffic jams and annoying lines—really anything that makes you wait. And let the truth of what 18th-century spiritual writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade said sink in: “Whatever happens to you in the course of a day, for good or ill, is an expression of God’s will.” Instead of cursing your luck, banging on the steering wheel, or rolling your eyes in frustration, see the wait as a spiritual invitation.

When you are forced to slow down, pray one of the great, repetitive vigil prayers of the church, such as the rosary or the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”). With this resolution in mind, hang a rosary around your rearview mirror at the beginning of Advent. Consider the possibility that God wants you at that moment to wait and then sanctify the time through one of those savoring prayers.


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