Advent Week 2 Action Items

1. Await in prayer.

He who prays waits attentively. Prayer is at the core of our preparation to receive the Lord anew this Christmas. Constant prayer helps us become aware of God’s presence and keeps us from falling into old habits.

Yet forgetfulness is frequently our biggest enemy. How often do we go about our day without talking to God or acknowledging his presence simply because we were too busy or distracted?

The truth is that we tend to think of prayer backwards. We usually let work influence how we pray instead of letting prayer influence how we work. We tend to think about when we can fit prayer into our busy day instead of thinking about how we can fit work into our life of prayer. This does not mean that we should use prayer as an excuse to neglect our jobs and responsibilities. It means that, if God is to be at the center of our lives, prayer must be also. For that reason, we need to set “ports” of prayer throughout the day that remind us that God should be at the center of all our actions and decisions.

Divide your day in prayer: morning, midday, and evening/night. Choose a simple prayer practice for those times and make them your ports. At those moments, anchor your ship, stop what you are doing, and say a prayer. Set an alarm to remind you if you need to.

Your prayer can be as simple as praying the Angelus three times a day (6, noon, 6), reading a Bible verse, or saying a spontaneous prayer of trust or thanksgiving at those set times.

2. Prepare in silence.

Another sign of waiting is silence. Psalm 130 paints a fitting image for Advent: “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for daybreak.” The watchman awaits attentively in the cold and darkness for the sun to come out. But he also looks and listens attentively for any sign of intruders before his watch is over.

Silence not only helps us to be attentive to God’s presence when he comes but also to any enemies that may try to ruin our efforts of preparation for the coming of the Messiah. How can you foster the practice of silence this week to encounter God more deeply in your work and daily life?

In our Advent disciplines, we committed to “take 3 minutes of silence, longing for the Lord’s coming.” This time will serve as the foundation for preparing our hearts to receive the Lord this Christmas.

If you spot any interior intruders in the form of temptations or discouragement, be prepared to fight them with arrows – short prayers or petitions you have prepared and memorized.

They can be as simple as “Lord, I trust in you,” or short Bible verses: “My soul waits for you, O Lord”; “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me” (Mk, 11:47). Prepare a couple of arrows.

But do not wait for temptations to come in order to shoot the arrows of prayer throughout your day. If you are constantly shooting arrows, what enemy will dare approach, even less overcome you?

3. Be honest with your anchor.

Anytime we set out to do something challenging, we encounter roadblocks and old wounds. Share yours with your anchor and listen to his. Support and encourage each other. Conversion is a battle but be at peace: Christ’s mercy is great towards those who are striving for holiness and perfection.

4. Root out negative speech.

Jesus is calling us to become like him. This is our hope for Advent: that his coming will help us to reborn in hope. With this hope, we must avoid speech that disrupts our peace, pulling our thoughts away from God and from charity toward others.

Our Advent discipline to “catch and root out cynical, sarcastic, and negative speech” gives us focus in this preparation. This negative speech immediately brings down the thrust of Advent focus on Christ. Rather than looking toward him in hope, cynicism and sarcasm put up barriers between us and others. These words point us back to our own thoughts, of thinking we know better and criticizing others, rather than ordering things to Jesus. He gives meaning to our conversations and can be present within them, but this requires keeping a hopeful and positive spirit.

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