Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, O.C.D., offers tips every busy mom can use to hold on to the quiet, expectant spirit of the Advent season in this introduction to The Living Gospel: Daily Devotions for Advent 2019, available from Ave Maria Press.
For so many of us, our minds spin into high gear with the first flickering candle on the Advent wreath: I need to pick up Christmas cards. I hope I can find some decent ones this year. I should have started working on my shopping lists with the back-to-school sales. Is it our turn to host Christmas dinner? I don’t know what to do with the awkward situation of cousin you-know-who. Did we buy replacement bulbs last December 26th?
It happens so easily. So quickly. So effortlessly.
Do you long to capture some of the quiet moments of Advent this year? Here are a few practical tips:
Remember: Christmas exists for you; you are not a cog in the Christmas wheel. God took on human form and was born in a stable so you might understand how God loves. He wants to speak to you. It is important to him that you know him—for real. He doesn’t want you just to know him when you get to heaven; he wants to reveal his heart to you now so you can get to heaven.
It is easier to capture the spirit of the journey right from the get-go. Take a few minutes to think about how you want to live Advent this year before you think about Christmas preparations. Don’t let that cart get before the horse. If you frontload the first days of Advent with care for your soul, you will be amazed how you will stay grounded for all four weeks. Then Christmas will actually bring about the deepening of peace and joy in your heart for which you long. And it will last.
Some things you might consider: When will you take time to simply be alone with God each day? First thing in the morning with a cup of coffee? Or is it easier for you to be still in the evening after everyone else is in bed? Do you journal? Or is it better for you to listen to Catholic radio or pray a Rosary on the way to work.
It doesn’t have to be a long time, but it is important to make a commitment that fits your personality and set a specific time to enter into your sacred space.
What will your sacramental life look like this Advent? Setting a date on your calendar now for Confession will ensure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle until the confessional lines are hopelessly long. Can you attend a daily Mass one day during the week? Is there a charitable outreach you’ve been wanting to make? Is this the year you’ll do it?
Stay close to Mary. She kept it simple. She clearly didn’t have the picture-perfect Christmas: no lights, no decorations, and no great meals. She certainly didn’t send out Christmas cards! But the first Christmas was the perfect Christmas. She prepared by saying yes to the angel, welcoming the Holy Spirit, and trusting Joseph. From there on, it was all about the baby Jesus: protect him, deliver him, love him. God showed her the way, one step at a time.
Companions for the Journey. It always helps to travel the journey with others who are experienced. Carmelites have been making this journey since the twelfth century, and the central message of Carmelite spirituality is “God is the soul’s health.” We believe that every person is capable of a mystical life, and it is prayer that truly transforms the human heart. Every person is able to talk with God, to hear his call, to receive and accept his promises, and through Christ, to continue building the kingdom by communicating God’s love.
In 1921, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa, affectionately known as Mother Luisita, and a few companions began living the Carmelite life, blending deep prayer with active gospel service in Guadalajara. Within a few years the Mexican Revolution and religious persecution broke out, and in 1927 the sisters were forced to escape to the United States. Now the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles serve in five archdioceses, promoting a deeper spiritual life through education, health care, and retreats.
As you begin your 2019 Advent journey, know that more than 135 Carmelite sisters are specifically supporting you each day in prayer. We eagerly look forward to meeting you in adoration before his crib.
Copyright 2019 Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, O.C.D., Vicar General Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles
This excerpt from Daily Devotions for Advent 2019 is reprinted with the kind permission of Ave Maria Press, the publisher.