The Fourth Week of Advent

 

I thought that this reflection was really inspiring and hope that you do too.

From:

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/fourthweek.html

“So many of us experience the ironic reality that Christmas can be the most lonely time of our lives.  Some of these “mixed feelings” or “sad feelings” are difficult to recognize or name. 

For some of us, the Christmas we will celebrate this year pales in comparison to wonderful Christmases of our past – perhaps because we were younger or more “innocent” then, perhaps because some of our loved ones who were central to our Christmas are no longer living or not where I am, perhaps because the burdens and struggles of my life or the changes in our world and the war have robbed this Christmas of something that was there before.

For some of us, Christmas will be just another day.  Unable to get out to go to church to be with a faith community, and without family or friends to be with, Christmas will be a day we are tempted to ignore.

For some of us, Christmas inevitably means family conflicts.  Facing the days ahead, whether it be the last few remaining parties, or conflicting demands of family and friends, or the friend or relative who drinks too much, or the experience I’m having that I drink too much and this season is an easy excuse.

For some of us, Christmas challenges us with terrible financial burdens.  Children today become victims of the gross commercial exploitation of the day.  For those of us struggling to make ends meet on a day to day basis, feeling the cultural pressure of buying for our children things which we can’t afford, can lead us to put more debt on the credit card in ways that simply push us further and further behind.

Some of us, might be really looking forward to Christmas, and not be aware of these struggles with Christmas, yet feel that, in spite of our best efforts to make Advent different this year, there is still something missing, and we still feel un-ready for Christmas. 

For all of us, the story behind these days can draw us in, and invite us to bring our lives to the mystery of how Jesus came into this world and why.  Our best preparation for the Holy Night ahead and the Joyful Morning to follow is for us to reflect upon how he came.  He came in the midst of scandal and conflict.  He came in poverty.  He was rejected before he was born.  He was born in a feed trough.  He was hunted down.  And he grew up in obscurity.

He did not shun our world and its poverty and conflict.  He embraced it.  And he desires to embrace us today, in this day.  Right where we are.  Right where we are feeling most distant.  Right were we are feeling least “religious” or “ready.”  If we let him come into our hearts to be our Savior these challenging days, we will find ourselves entering the sacred night and morning of Christmas “joyful and triumphant” as never before.

Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people. 
We await your coming.  Come, O Lord.

Rejoice! Gaudete! It is the Third Week of Advent!

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/thirdweek.html

Gaudete Week

Our week begins with “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin.  It comes from the first word of the Entrance antiphon on Sunday.  The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.”  This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose colored, and the rose colored vestments often used at the Eucharist.

….

“Preparing our Hearts and asking for Grace

We prepare this week by feeling the joy.  We move through this week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand.  And so we consciously ask:

Prepare our hearts
and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling
the joy and hope
which his presence
will bestow.

Each morning this week, in that brief moment we are becoming accustomed to, we want to light a third inner candle.  Three candles, going from expectation, to longing, to joy.  They represent our inner preparation, or inner perspective.  In this world of “conflict and division,” “greed and lust for power,” we begin each day this week with a sense of liberating joy.  Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply and say,

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
     my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Each day this week, we will continue to go through our everyday life, but we will experience the difference our faith can bring to it.  We are confident that the grace we ask for will be given us.  We will encounter sin – in our own hearts and in our experience of the sin of the world.  We can pause in those moments, and feel the joy of the words,

“You are to name him Jesus, 
  because he will save his people 
  from their sins.” Mt 1:21

We may experience the Light shining into dark places of our lives and showing us patterns of sinfulness, and inviting us to experience God’s mercy and healing.  Perhaps we wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconcilation this week.  We may want to make gestures of reconcilation with a loved one, relative, friend or associate.  With more light and joy, it is easier to say, “I’m sorry; let’s begin again.”

Each night this week we want to pause in gratitude.  Whatever the day has brought, no matter how busy it has been, we can stop, before we fall asleep, to give thanks for a little more light, a little more freedom to walk by that light, in joy.”

From “Praying Advent” Advent Reflections at   http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/thirdweek.html

See also  http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/index.html

It is the Second Week of Advent! Welcome, Jesus, into our Hearts!

From:

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/secondweek.html

God of Strength,
I need your courage.
You offer to make firm the knees that are weak.
Only you know how frightened I so often am.

And you do offer me strength.
There is the promise of your Son’s coming
and knowing that you will save me.
I can’t do this on my own
no matter how often I think I can.

Give me the humility to ask for your help
and open heart to accept
your healing and love in my life.

========================

Dear Lord,
Through the darkness, I look for your wisdom.
I want my heart to be open to you.
But sometimes in these days, it seems that
so many things come between us.

Help me to be awake and aware
of the radiance you bring to my life.
Help me to be grateful each day
for the blessings of family and friends.
Let me be a peacemaker
in my own life, and in the world.
Let me pray especially for this difficult world
and those who are so in need of an end to violence.
My heart begs for this as my Advent prayer today.

http://www.marypages.com/Advent.htm

http://www.io.com/~kellywp/YearB/Advent/BAdv2.html