Discernment in the Spirit of Advent

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Entering Advent, we find ourselves before a banquet of spiritual riches.  In the liturgy and practices of the season, the Church seeks to help up prepare ourselves to encounter Christ anew.  It is a time to recall His coming as an Infant in Bethlehem, to look forward to that final glorious coming upon the clouds, and to receive Him as He desires to be present in the small, daily moments of our lives.

Yet, in the busy-ness of preparing for Christmas, it is all too easy for us to miss the banquet.  Garlands to hang, gifts to wrap, mountains of baking, not to mention all those Christmas cards that need stamping...I assure you, even in the cloister we can get distracted by all that needs to be done!

For anyone discerning their vocation, this can also be a time of temptation to press the pause button on the journey of seeking God's will.  We might think:

"I'll pray later, right now I need to finish x, y, & z"

or

"After Christmas I'll make that phone call or sign up for that retreat"

or

"If I can just get through this month, then I can figure out what God wants me to do!"

But rather than shelving the idea of discernment until the partridge has left the pear tree and the ten lords have leaped their last, we can use the time of Advent as a powerful opportunity to grow in our openness to hearing the still, small voice of the Lord.  Perhaps it is not the time to make a big decision, but by practicing the virtues of this holy season of waiting, we can prepare our hearts, not just to recognize Christ's coming in the manger, but to welcome Him as unfolds His plan for us.

Over the next few weeks, we'll explore the spirit of Advent and how it can contribute to our time of discernment, especially through a spirit of silence, of wonder, and of union with Mary as we wait upon the Lord.