First Week of Advent: Hearts on Fire!
Centering Thought: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.”
— Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel, I, 2-3
Welcome to Week One of our Advent Retreat. This online retreat is offered with the hope that it will provide you with an opportunity to enter into a time of prayer, reflection and action during this season of Advent. The retreat has three parts:
- Presence: You are invited to enter into the retreat through silence or by song. This is a time of preparation to receive God’s word into your heart.
- Prayer: Following Saint John Baptist De La Salle’s Method of Interior Prayer reflect upon this week’s Sunday Gospel.
- Participation: How is the Holy Spirit calling me to enliven the reign of God in my life, my family, my community, and the world? God’s reign—one that is reflective of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and justice.
Light the Advent Candle as you pray “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” or “Let me remember that I am in the holy presence of God.”
Saint John Baptist de La Salle: Method of Interior Prayer. The Sunday Gospel as reflected in the process of De La Salle’s Method of Interior Prayer. (DLS Method of Interior Prayer: Br. William Mann FSC)
Remember God’s Presence
Pause for a few minutes to quiet yourself and to remember that God is, even in this very moment, present to you.
- In all of creation, everything around you.
- In your very self, keeping you alive.
- In the midst of those with whom you are praying
- In the Eucharist and in the Word of God
- In you by God’s grace at work in your life.
- In the young and the poor.
Contemplate the Mystery of God’s love at work in the world.
Read today’s Gospel a few times slowly. What word or words especially catch your attention? Listen to what is being said; watch what happens; try to become part of the Mystery; lovingly contemplate Jesus.
- Reflect on the Mystery of God’s love at work in your own life.
- Does today’s Gospel have any relevance to your life?
- How do you try to share the message of this Gospel with those with whom you live and work? With those who have been entrusted to your care?
- If you choose to allow this Scripture passage to come alive in you now, what would you have to change in your life? What are the obstacles to this change?
“How long has Jesus been knocking at the door of your heart waiting to enter?”
(Med 85.1 Feast of the Nativity)
from the Gospel of Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Resolve to be open to the Spirit working in and through you.
- Where is the Spirit drawing you to sacrifice yourself today that others might have a happier, fuller, holier and more love-filled life?
- Take a few minutes now to thank God for this time you have spent in prayer and to reoffer yourself, as far as you are able, to the accomplishment of God’s will…God’s plan.
You are invited to be watchful!
“Being watchful…staying awake” is remaining open to the presence of God in your life. “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” However, in this Scripture passage, Jesus is inviting…advising…his followers to be more keenly, more acutely awake for their salvation depends on it!
For disciples of Jesus, a dimension of “alertness” or “staying awake” requires discernment. How are we being called to love and serve God?
The Greek word for discernment is Diakrisis. The word describes being able to distinguish, discern, judge or appraise a person, statement, situation or environment.
What is God inviting you to discern in your life?
You are invited to consider:
- Pray: engaging in conversation with God. Jesus was in constant communication with the Father, so much so that he could state “the Father and I are one.” And “I am here to do the will of my Father.” How did he know his Father’s will-through prayer. The gift of his powerful example invites us into a similar relationship with Our Father.
- Listen: Listen in prayer, listen in seeing the beauty of nature, listen in the words of love, guidance, correction and wisdom of others, listen to Scripture, and listen in the expressions of ritual and sacrament.
- Act: Live an authentic life-where words match actions based on biblical expressions of mercy and love.
- Trust: Act in faith-believe in your discernment. In your prayer ask for Jesus to guide you in the way you are being called by the Creator in your life then risk following that path!
How am I responding to God’s invitation?