Advent is not Christmas. Advent is a season of preparation. How are you preparing your hearts for the coming of the Christ child at Christmas?
As you can imagine, we receive a lot of mail at the parish office containing inspirational materials for Advent. I currently have 13 different Advent books for this year alone on my desk, not to mention various inspirational books, calendars, and emails that I use daily. Do I use every one every day? No, but I try to keep current with the emails and calendars. If I find I have a break in my day, I will grab one or two other books to review. Why so many? I like to read different viewpoints of different authors, and many times the words are just what I need at that point in my day or life – their message speaks to me. Some of the authors are theologians and other famous people such as Henri Nouwen or Pope Francis and others not-so-famous but inspirational nonetheless.
These are the titles I have right now: The Little Blue Book, Daily Reflections for Advent – Not by Bread Alone 2015, Our Lord Emmanuel, Living Advent with Joy & Peace (Pope Francis), Living Faith Advent (based on the Mass readings), Opening our Hearts to God (Pope Francis), Advent with Mary (Pope Francis), God is Near, Waiting for God, Welcoming Jesus (Pope Francis & Henri Nouwen), Unto us a Child is Born, Wake up to Joy, and Sacred Reading. A little over the top?!! Yes; however, all but one were free. As you can imagine, each one has a different viewpoint or way of approaching Advent – through Mary, God, Jesus, etc.
I am blessed to have a job that allows me (and probably should require me) to take the time for prayer breaks, which in turn allows me to try to inspire YOU! So, what inspires me? EVERYTHING based on Scripture. Do you know that EVERYTHING God needs us to know about salvation is found in Scripture? The Bible truly is the Living Word of God. Every day some passage or phrase resonates with me. It truly speaks to me and gives me encouragement to be a better person. What better way to prepare for Christ’s coming that to read God’s Word? Whatever inspirational book you use, you will find a Scripture passage or reference. Dust off your Bibles and read the Word of God, let it speak to your heart, and then respond to God using your own words – that’s prayer! The secret of prayer is taking the time to be quiet so your heart is open to that conversation with God.