Sunday, December 11, 2016

We're Halfway There!

Rejoice! Today is Gaudete Sunday (as well as Bambinelli Sunday). The priests wore pink-I mean, rose-at Mass, and a jubilant mood filled the church. The Lord is coming, and we rejoice. 

At Mass on Saturday morning, the priest mentioned that we are at the halfway point of Advent. This fact hadn't occurred to me, and I'm glad that he brought it up. There are only two weeks of Advent left-this is both exciting (Christmas will soon be here!) and intimidating (are we ready?). So, since Father mentioned the whole "we're halfway through Advent" reality, I've been thinking about how this Advent has been going over here. 



Our barren Jesse Tree. Thankfully, it finally
has some ornaments on it! 
This year, I eased into Advent. We had set up the Advent wreath just before went out of town for Thanksgiving, so when we returned home on the 1st Sunday of Advent, the wreath was ready to go. A few days later, I unpacked the Nativity set, and placed the various figurines in there appropriate places: A shepherd and animals on a table in the corner, and Mary & Joseph a far distance away-they have been slowly inching closer to the shepherd throughout this Advent season. I set up the Jesse Tree a few weeks ago, but we did not get around to reading the Scriptures and putting on ornaments until a few days ago. We have slipped gently and gradually into the practices of Advent, like a duck sliding into a lake. 


While it would have been nice to have everything completely set at the beginning of Advent, the "ease into Advent" approach this year works well for me in this state in life. With a teething six-month-old, out-of-town travels, and local events, life is very full. And there are moments when I think it's better to focus on having some leisure time with my husband or quiet prayer time instead of trying to cram in as many "Adventy things" as possible. All of the exterior practices and devotions in the world would be no good if they don't help cultivate and lead us to deeper silence and prayer. 

Dark chocolate coins and mandarin
oranges on the Feast of St. Nicholas!
This Advent has been rather silent over here, and I love the stillness. I've been reading a lot, spending time each day with my Advent devotional, and praying by the light of the Advent wreath. While I'm still reading blogs and occasionally writing a blog, I've not been as connected to social media and the internet. In fact, there's a very quirky rule that I've made for myself this Advent which has helped me immensely in keeping myself focused and not immersed in the hustle and bustle-if you want to hear what it is, check out this episode of Morning Air-I come in at around the 43-minute mark for an 8-minute long conversation (Yes, I was on the radio! It was a huge honor and privilege, and I was so delighted to speak with John Harper about Advent). 

As we head into the last half of Advent, waiting and longing for the Lord's birth, I'll leave you all with a quotation from A Monastery Journey to Christmas: 
"To cultivate an inner vigilant attitude means to remain continually on the alert for all those signs the Lord provides us daily. They encourage us to persevere in our Advent resolutions and seek his presence in all of life's circumstances. Be alert, be vigilant, be on the guard: This means keeping our hearts in a state of constant readiness."

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