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Preparing Our Hearts for the Coming King – Advent Preparation

I don’t know about you, but I have allowed far too many an Advent season to pass me by with far too little devotion. For decades St. Joseph knocked at myorans-theotokos door, offering the opportunity to allow the Messiah to be born anew in my heart. I am sad to say that prior to this past decade of my life as a Catholic, there was far too little room at the Inn of my heart.

I am also grateful to say that since becoming Catholic, the room for Christ’s coming has been better prepared and much more receptive to the greatest Gift that Mary offers. This better preparation has come through the great blessing of the liturgical seasons both in the readings at Mass as we approach Advent and also in the devotions and in particular the Liturgy itself.

Reflecting more broadly on our time, we are endemically a Martha culture. I am, of course, referring to a point in Martha’s life when Jesus rebuked her and thereby revealed the path to true devotion to Him. The passage is in St. Luke’s Gospel, chapter ten:

“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

In a recent post entitled “The Danger of Martha’s Vindication” I outlined a reflection on this passage that is more faithful to the text and Jesus’ intent than is often provided in homilies. The response was truly remarkable. You would not believe the number of comments and emails I received defending Martha even though the post was a direct criticism of this very problem. One woman, as she sought to justify herself, even went so far as to question the validity of the scripture itself!

This instance revealed to me a deep spiritual sickness in our culture. The sickness, in summary, is a proclivity to much action and little prayer.

I must admit that I also struggle with this issue. Though I do give a good amount of my day to prayer, once I get moving, I often struggle to work at a pace that allows for active listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The good news is, there is a remedy for this sickness. The remedy begins with God’s ever present call to a deeper relationship with Him in and through the liturgy. The remedy is already prepared and available to us – we need only to say “yes” to His desire to draw us more deeply to Him in prayer and reflection during this Advent.

There are a number of good ways to say “yes” to God as we prepare for and then enter into Advent:

Attend Mass more frequently with the intention and offering at Mass for the purpose of drawing your heart more deeply into the mystery of Advent.

Begin paying close attention to the readings at Mass. The best translation for this attention is the Knox Bible. It is not only an exquisite translation but also a beautiful Christmas gift.

As you pay close attention to the text, you might want to begin or redouble your commitment to Lectio Divina or Christian meditation during this time. Here’s are a few recommended resources:

Read a Devotional Book on Christmas:

Begin a daily reading of a devotion that will specifically address the themes both leading up to and during Advent. Here are the best daily meditation materials that I have encountered (all of these would make great Christmas gifts as well):

Begin a new adventure praying the Liturgy of the Hours. There are several good paths to take on this journey:

These are just a few (probably too many) options. However, if you would just pick one and stick with it, you will find that not only does your heart expand in its readiness for the King, but you will also find Him all the more present in this great season of grace.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • ThirstforTruth

    It occurs to me that this ( Mary’s hands gesture outward and upward)
    is the same “stance” the priest uses at Mass, called the oremus posture?

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