Our Advent Retreat at Home: 1st Week

Our Advent Retreat at Home: 1st Week
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ or at least an openness to letting Him encounter them. I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.   @Pontifex

A Method for Daily Prayer

Find a place and time for these daily Advent prayers. Set the same time for each day (suggested prayer time of 5 to 30 minutes) and prepare by reading the selected passage for the day:

  1. Remind yourself that you are in the presence of God. Make a gesture like bowing or lighting a candle to signify this truth.
  2. Ask for a desired grace. Here, it could be the grace of drawing closer to Jesus during this season.
  3. Slowly ponder the words of the passage, drawing from it the truth or lesson that applies to your life. Relish this truth, mulling it over and over in your mind. Spend some silent time resting with this truth.
  4. Spend some time talking with God the Father or with Jesus or with Mary as one friend would speak to another. Speak about the insight that comes from your prayer or whatever are the concerns of your heart.
  5. After you finish your prayer ask the question: what has been given to me? Make the assumption that always in prayer something is given to me. You might want to write down what this has been.

Our Daily Reflections

  • Sunday, the joy of The Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

  • Monday, the great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up on its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its own source in the heart of the risen Christ.

  • Tuesday, I invite all Christian, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.” [1] The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!

  • Wednesday, perhaps the most exciting invitation is that of the prophet Zephaniah, who presents God with his people in the midst of a celebration overflowing with the joy of salvation. I find it thrilling to reread this text: “The Lord is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival. (3.17)

  • Thursday, this is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father: “My Child, treat yourself well, according to your means.. Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment” (Sir 14:11, 14). What tender paternal love echoes in these words!

  • Friday, thanks solely to this encounter —or renewed encounter— with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?

  • Saturday, sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy.” [2] I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ. I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” [3]

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