Posts Tagged ‘preparation’

'Fasting' doesn't mean eating fast food!

Lent is nearly upon us, only one week away. It is a period of 40 days, to prepare ourselves for the pinnacle of the liturgical year- the Resurrection, when Christ overcame death on the Cross offer us salvation. Pretty amazing as far as pinnacles go…

If I am being honest with myself, there are some years where I have really looked forward to the hope and joy of the Resurrection, and there have been other years where, as Easter Sunday drew closer, I realised that I was not ready to celebrate this great day because I was unprepared. This was  perhaps the year where I decided what to give up for Lent whist eating pancakes, or the year I decided what to give up based on my new diet regime, or the year I decided to do something extra… which never materialised.

So, this year, I am carefully planning my Lenten preparations, to avoid any snap Ash Wednesday decisions!

A great way to prepare for Lent is to read Pope Benedict’s Lent 2013 message, which can be found here.

Also, I came across an Our Sunday Visitor video, in which Fr Jim Shafer suggests a simple 1-1-1 plan;

  • Focus on one sin that gets in the way of becoming closer to God
  • Add in one new faith habit, like daily Mass or prayer
  • Give up one thing– Check out the Lifeteen website for some creative ideas (like giving up the elevator/lift, the snooze button or even pillows!) or weird ideas (like leaving post-it notes with positive messages on wherever you go or don’t eat your last bite of food) which will make you holier!
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Pope Benedict XVI’s reflection for Advent 2012

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church begins a new liturgical year, a journey that is subsequently enriched by the Year of Faith, which we observe 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The first part of this journey is Advent, constituted, in the Roman Rite, by the 4 weeks that precede the Christmas of the Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In the ancient world it indicated the visit of the king or emperor to a province; in the language of Christianity it refers to the coming of God, to his presence in the world; a mystery that involves the entire cosmos and all of history, but that knows 2 culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first is precisely the Incarnation; the second his glorious return at the end of time. These 2 moments that are chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how distant – touch each other in their depths, because with his death and resurrection Jesus has already realized that transformation of man and the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before the end, it is necessary that the Gospel be preached to all nations, Jesus says in the Gospel of St. Mark (cf. Mark 13:10). The Lord’s coming continues, the world must be penetrated by his presence.

Our collaboration is required in this permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel; and the Church, which is like the Bride to be, the Betrothed of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cf. Apocalypse 21:9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord in which his glorious return already begins.

The Word of God reminds us of all this today, describing the conduct that is necessary to ready for the Lord’s coming. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be weighed by dissipation, drunkenness and the troubles of life … be vigilant, therefore, praying at all times” (Luke 21:34, 36). So, sobriety and prayer. And the apostle Paul also invites us to “grow and superabound in love” among ourselves and toward others, to make our hearts strong and blameless in sanctity (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). In the midst of the upheavals of the world, or in the deserts of indifference and materialism, Christians welcome the salvation that comes from God and bear witness to it with a different way of living, like a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah announces, “Jerusalem will live in peace and be called ‘the Lord our justice’” (33:16). The community of believers is a sign of God, of his justice, which is already present and active in history but is not yet fully realized, and because of this is always awaited, invoked, sought with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly incarnates the spirit of Advent; this spirit is one of listening to God, of profound desire to do his will, of joyous service to our neighbor. Letting ourselves be guided by her, so that the God who comes does not find us closed and distracted, but can, in each one of us, extend a part of his kingdom of love, of justice and of peace.

I wish everyone a peaceful Sunday and a good Advent journey. Happy Advent, have a good Sunday, everyone. Thank you.

How are your Christmas preparations coming along? I read somewhere before advent this year a suggestion to not spend more than two days on Christmas shopping. I set myself that microchallenge thinking it would be easy, thanks to online shopping. However I find even with that I have gone over the two days!

I great online reminder of the reason for the season is Busted Halo’s digital advent calender, complete with short daily jolts and reflections, which help prepare us for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Various celebrities, politicians and singers provide a thought on waiting and patience, as we prepare a way for the Lord (Isaiah 40:3).

As an example, here is a clip from the first day- Zac Effron and Elmo teaching us about, and demonstrating patience!

 

Check out Busted Halo’s digital advent calender for yourself! Add it to your favourites, tweet and tell your friends and family about it, helping them too to make a straight highway for our God accross the desert.

 

Busted Halo advent calender

Busted Halo advent calender

three-wise-men-star

December comes and we can be busy worrying about what to buy for whom, battling crowds in shopping centres and high streets, attending rehersals for choir or plays, going to Christmas parties, stressing over travel plans aadvent candlend poor weather conditions… we may forget the meaning of Christmas before we even get there!

There is significant spiritual importance in the weeks leading up to Christmas- its a time to prepare ourselves for Jesus coming into the world. Taking time to do this can ensure we are not physically and mentally exhausted by Christmas Eve, but spiritually ready to welcome the Saviour into the world.

Here are some ideas:

  • Light an advent candle. Focus on the flame and meditate on the coming of the light of the world as the candle burns down little by little, day by day.
  • Buy a “Walk with me”, “Magnificat” or similar monthly booklet to help guide you in your advent preparation. Set aside time each day for reading and prayer.
  • Wear something purple every day to remind you its the season of advent. Purple is the colour of royalty, and also the colour of suffering in Lent. Wearing purple reminds us that he came into the world and suffered on the cross for our salvation.
  • Advent is a time of waiting. Pray for patience as you go about your day-to-day life.
  • Christmas is the beginning of the liturgical year. Go to confession, get rid of grudges you bear and begin the new year absolved from your sins.
  • Attend an Advent retreat day in your parish.