Presence over Presents: Advent Reflection

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 2:03 PM PST

“Christmas is not meant to be simply a day of celebration; it is meant to be a month of contemplation. But because Advent

has been lost somewhere between Thanksgiving turkey and the pre-Christmas sales, we have lost one of the richest seasons of the year. Unless we can reclaim Advent, the lack of it will show dearly in the way we go through the rest of life itself.”   - Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB from Sparks of Advent Light

The season of Advent, which begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas in the Christian church, marks a time of longing and hopefulness. The word Advent derives from the Latin meaning “coming”, and in that spirit Christians await for the peace, love, and light of God made incarnate through the birth of Jesus. 

Inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, each of us as Jesuit educated alumni are invited to become attuned to the inner stirrings of our soul. In the midst of what always seems like a hurried holiday season, our focus often shifts from presence to presents. Our days are bombarded daily (if not hourly or by the minute) with consumerism. Not to mention that now, more than ever, we are experiencing the deep suffering pain of the world constantly flashing across our TV, computer, or phone screen. We desire peace not only within our homes, schools, and workplaces, but also in own hearts and minds. In pausing to create the interior space necessary for true reflection to occur, we take a first step towards personal transformation.

Catholic Benedictine nun, author and social leader Joan Chittister, OSB shares the following reflection on Advent from her book The Liturgical Year: “Advent relieves us of our commitment to the frenetic in a fast-paced world. It slows us down. It makes us think. It makes us look beyond today to the “great tomorrow” of life. Without Advent, moved only by the race to nowhere that exhausts the world around us, we could be so frantic with trying to consume and control this life that we fail to develop within ourselves a taste for the spirit that does not die and will not slip through our fingers like melted snow.” 

Sr. Joan inspires us to see Advent as a time for noticing God’s embodiment in our very own lives – within our desires and choices. So, how do we slow ourselves down to reflect on the true meaning of this season? No matter what faith tradition or spiritual practice you follow, we invite you to consider these reflective questions as you prepare for the days ahead:

Where is the star of hope and peace leading you?

Who needs your welcome and hospitality?

What desires to be born within you?

We at Magis wish you a wonderful Advent season, and hope to see you at the Alumni Advent Mass this Saturday, December 5th at Seattle U.

To learn more about Magis, visit us online.

Photo credit: Nativity by Jeff Weese, Creative Commons License