Advent Preparation in the midst of a Pandemic? Are you Crazy!?!

Come to realize – through prayerful reflection – how this year’s COVID -19 struggles and challenges has functioned like a year long ADVENT season, preparing you to receive Jesus in some way this coming year…

After almost a year of grappling with this COVID 19 pandemic, many of even the most hardcore, devotional and conservative Catholics have been liturgically broken down – in their liturgical regularity of attending Mass, etc..  After a year like 2020, can you blame them?

Now weary and worn out from quarantining, yet seemingly still forced onward in this global ‘pandemic death march,’ many Catholics today are finding themselves simply too tired and weary to even give simple lip service to ‘ADVENT.’

Advent!? Really? With all that’s been going on, you think I’m gonna even play like I’m gonna try to ‘prayerfully enter into the Advent season’ this year???  Once again, really?  Can you blame anyone for simply, being human?

In ‘normal’ times perhaps ‘doing Advent’ seems and feels like the right thing to do at this time of year, in order to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus in some new way … But this year not only feels and seems different, it actually is – VERY DIFFERENT!!!

We, the so called civilians of the world, have found ourselves on the daily, front line battle for life and death! 2020 came in quietly and in a sneaky way, secretly drafted the whole world into an unknown war with a viral enemy…

Since February, the whole world has been frantically fighting to literally stay alive – that is, to not die from a COVID-19 infection… We also been struggling to stay economically afloat… And also to address our non COVID-19 medical and family issues, etc..  And please, do not even mention, the ongoing struggle here in America to stay politically and democratically afloat as religiously conservative bigots and racists, empowered after four years of Trump’s hatred and evil, tried to steal an election and dismantle our democracy…

 

Because these are not normal times and 2020 was nothing even close to being a ‘normal’ year, I am asking all of those traditional and conservative Catholics – who may be worrying about or missing their regular and traditional Advent preparations – to reflectively think back over the year and to PRAYERFULLY answer this question for yourself…

“How has God prepared me to receive Jesus in some NEW way this coming year?”

Please, sit with this question awhile….   I doubt that after a year like THIS, you need any more preparation!

Prayerfully examine how God has challenged and changed you in this last year…

Take a moment to briefly list and write down on paper the ways you are NOW very different than the pre-pandemic person you were last Christmas…

What is it that you most want now in life?

Come to realize – through prayerful reflection – how this year’s COVID -19 struggles and challenges has functioned like a year long ADVENT season, preparing you to receive Jesus in some way this coming year…

Now, sit and briefly jot down or briefly make some notes about what FORM you really want to meet Jesus in this coming year…  The FORM you are hoping for this year’s Chrtistmas gift from God to materialize in…

Is it a a new job? An end to and old and beginning of a new relationship? A vocational move or a geographical move to a new city?

Prayerfully find what THAT is for you and ask God to, “Make it so, if it is His will” this coming year.  After a crazy year like 2020, REMEMBER – our Advent work and preparation is already done! 

 We simply need to prayerfully AND faithfully 1) name and then to 2) ask for THAT gift that God has been preparing us to receive in this coming year…

Have a Merry Christmas!!!

 

 

 

 

Advent 2019: God’s Unchanged Christmas Desire

There are few things in life that we really like to prepare for… Unless something is very, very important, most of us would generally like to just show up, like some of us did way back in high school as students.  In ‘showing up’ we are hoping that our very presence is enough to merit our getting or receiving whatever is suppose to be given – like a grade in that class, etc.

This is possible for the little or small things in life, sometimes…

… But other things in life are so important, that they simply require a period of preparation: like an engagement before a wedding and a pregnancy before a birth are examples. For these ‘big things’ in life, we know that we must prepare – our bodies, hearts and minds for what is coming!

In these ‘big things’ of life, if we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail.  Often, a lack of preparation can or may even result in us losing something that we rightfully even expected, hoped for or anticipated – like a big tax return!! The hoped for big spring tax check unfortunately may fail to be realized due to poor record keeping and preparation.

If this is true for the ‘big things’ in our natural lives, is this not even more true for the most fundamental reality that undergirds all others: our spiritual life?

Consider the following common example…

For many Catholics, going to Mass on Sunday is an important part of their spiritual life, yet many also say they find it is often routine.  When I hear people talk about how routine (boring) the Mass can be, I ask what are they doing to prepare to receive God at Mass? Do they prepared for it, by simply reading or listening to the Scriptures at the Mass they will be attending before hand – they are online, even on the way to Mass?  This SIMPLE ACT of preparation made into a habit can and will deepen and transform one’s routine experience and communion at Mass.

This simple truth also applies to the reality of Christmas in our lives.  What was God’s desire that first Christmas? Did Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and Wise Men all PREPARE for it? Even Herod, in finding out late from the Wise Men, tried to prepare for it – in an evil way – by murdering thousands of innocent children under two, which caused the Holy family to flee to Egypt…

If we are to really live out the real meaning of Christmas each year – starting with this year – we must prepare to receive God in some new way this year.  This was what the first Christmas was all about!!!  God’s desire to Give God’s Self to us anew!!!  God’s desire for each of us has remained unchanged since that first Christmas Day…

Once again, since we generally prepare only when forced or for the most important things of our lives, what could be more important than receiving God in some new way this Christmas season?!?!

As Christians, we may find ourselves running around seeking to gift others this Christmas – don’t get me wrong, this to, is what the season is ALSO VERY MUCH about…  But we must also remember God’s original desire for us in celebrating Christmas and we must prepare for it…

…TO RECEIVE God anew …like in a graced reconciliation in that close relationship or a change in our financial status/a new job or like a jump starting or deepening our prayer life and/or worship experience, etc.

God has got THAT gift with our name on it…

It is a gift that only God can give us…

All we must do is to prayerfully and humbly ask for it – yes, to name it…

And also to faithfully prepare in anticipation of receiving it soon.

Have a Blessed Advent Season!!!  Step out on faith and hope to receive that Gift that only God can give you, for that is part of what CHRISTMAS is all about!!!