Advent Retreat: The Second Week of Advent

If you are following along with our Advent retreat, this is the place for brief reflections to jump-start your week. Please share your retreat experience with others here throughout the week in the comments.

The Second Week of Advent: Prepare Yourself for the Lord’s Coming.

Petition: Ask for the grace to prepare the way for the Lord in one’s own heart, in the family, in the parish, and in the human community.

family holiday dinnerSoon we will gather with loved ones for the holiday. We look forward to opening the door to guests, and also being welcomed into others’ homes. We will probably spend time with people we don’t see very often, and so these times are precious to us. Could we extend this love and anticipation to the ordinary meetings and greetings in the year to come? Do we understand that fellowship is always a miracle, a grace from God?

—Excerpted from 2010: A Book of Grace-Filled Days by Alice Camille

About Jim Manney 761 Articles
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is Ignatian Spirituality A to Z. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

4 Comments on Advent Retreat: The Second Week of Advent

  1. Thanks! I’m trying to slow down and make time for prayer this first Advent back to the Catholic Church. “Making a way for the Lord” means to say “yes” to some activities I’m committed to… and still make time for prayer.

  2. I just finished reading Isaiah 41: 13-20 for today’s prayerful contemplation. Sometimes I find it helpful to do my contemplating with music in the background. So I did a quick YouTube search and found a lovely recording of “Veni Veni Emmanuel” done as choral chant that played with a slideshow of iconographic art of Our Lady and the Christ Child. Given the season and the reading it seemed appropriate.

    And so did my next selection which naturally was an energized high-octane version of Havah Nagilah.

    Don’t look at me like that.

    Isaiah was writing for an audience of Israelis desperate for some good news. For some indication that things would eventually get better. That it wouldn’t always be for like it was for them at that moment. Keep it together. Hold just a little while longer. The Messiah is coming. Your longing will not be ignored. Your desire will be fulfilled.

    So I listened to “Veni Veni Emmanuel” for the longing part. And I listened to Havah Nagilah for the desire fulfilled part.

    And I loved it! I couldn’t exactly clap my hands and sing along because I have a sleeping wife and child a couple of rooms away but I still smiled and bopped in my chair. I need all the joy I can get right now.

    I’ve been struggling with my employment situation lately. I have an incredibly supportive family and we’re doing okay but this is getting old. I’m semi-employed and there are days when the frustration and embarrassment get the better of me. I’m right with you ,Isaiah’s original audience, on the whole “doesn’t it ever get better” thing. But just like my long-ago elder brothers and sisters in faith, I was consoled by the news that God will “grasp my right hand” and say “fear not, I will help you.” It’s easy to forget that, especially with where I’m at right now. It was a positively joyful experience to be reminded.

    Got an interview early tomorrow morning. Grasp my hand but good O Lord. And the rest of you, pray ridiculously hard around 8 o’clock Eastern. I for one will fear not because the Lord will help me.

    And when I get this job, I will dance– very very badly– for the Lord with joy. To Havah Nagilah.

  3. I am with Meg, only Advent is one of my favorite seasons, second only to Lent and the Easter season. (Yes I love Lent, and will write on that another time.)

    On the first Sunday of Advent I breathed a sigh of relief during my morning prayer, so grateful to be moving from ordinary time and the end of the church year, into a brand new liturgical year. Then I had a new awareness, realizing my life seems to “mirror” the liturgical seasons. Feeling the weight of the coming winter through the fall transition; experiencing the increasing darkness and shortening days often finds me slipping into a sense of dread and a malaise of low grade depression that waxes and wanes. I was in that “interior place” when the first Sunday of Advent arrived, with the hopefulness it promises.

    I like Meg love to do Advent during Advent, counter to the culture I save my Christmas celebrating for the Christmas season; beginning on Christmas Eve. I too leave the Three Kings enroute, once the Nativity set comes out, until the actual date of Epiphany. Making this shift a number of years ago has helped me to be more mindful of Advent and has helped me to focus more on spiritual preparation during the season. Having “let go” of some of the busyness and “must do’s of my former ” pre Christmas” preparations has helped me feel less stressed and less overwhelmed. Shifting focus to Advent and simplifying the traditions I do retain free not only my time but also my mind and by God’s grace I find “stray thoughts” popping up that I like to “mull over” slowly as part of my Advent preparation. For example:

    In recent years I have made a shift, at least in my mind, to referring to Christmas as the Feast of the Incarnation as this helps me remain more conscious of the spiritual reality we celebrate once the Day of Christmas arrives. In that spirit I especially like to reflect on the infancy narratives and the human experiences that the Holy Family underwent, thinking about the parental roles of Joseph and Mary, the actual circumstances of Jesus’s birth and what that human experience was like for the family, in all the nitty gritty details and stress that must have been part and parcel of their experience if one really delves reflectively into the “stories”.

    I also to ponder the “coming of Jesus anew” during each Advent season, praying for the grace to be open to whatever birthing needs to take place in my life. During Advent I try to hold such reflections and ponderings in hope and in waiting, even as the days grow shorter and the darkness longer; and especially when life’s unknowns deeping and a sense of malaise seems steady. This hope-filled waiting for the one who comes, who is sure to come, gives me a sense of meaning and purpose, when I stop to recall what this season is about and some how it gives me courage to continue my own incarnational journey knowing that some how God’s Light always out shines, even the deepest darkness.

    • I love the reference to Christmas as the Feast of the Incarnation! Like you, we delay celebrations of His birth until He has arrived. I just don’t know how to keep the joy alive for my family between Christmas and Epiphany. Thanks for your comments!

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