Advent IV and Christmas

ADVENT 4 AND CHRISTMAS
Advent is a time in which we are growing to reconnect to the light of God within us. We look for answers outside of ourselves. We use labels to keep our distance from others. Mark Twain once wrote:” No man has a wholly undiseased mind; in one way or another all men are mad.” None of us are whole, none of us are truly healthy. We find that wholeness and health in Christ and Christ is within each of us.
J. Philip Newell writes: “Redemption is the journey of being reconnected to the light of God within. It is a journey home that takes us through what seems unknown land. .Redemption is not the bringing of light to creation that is essentially dark, but rather the liberating of light from the heart of life.”
As we enter this final week of Advent allow the Christ child to walk with you to connect to the light of God within you so that you can show that light to others.
During Christmas Week and New Year’s I encourage you to use the Examen below as you follow the path of redemption within you. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
LIGHTING OF THE ADVENT WREATH—WEEK IV
Our first Advent candle honors flame.
Our second Advent candles honors water.
Our third Advent candle honors earth.
Our fourth Advent candle honors air.
The infant Jesus first cry will come
from a scoop of breath into his lungs.
Breath of life, Breath of Being,
may we in hale you deeply and,
like Jesus, cry out
your song of love,
your song of joy,
your song of justice.
We light this candle to represent your incarnation
through the element of air.
Prayer of Dedication
Animating one, who pours your Spirit into each life,
may the gifts we offer in our gratitude
inspire hope where there is despair
and righteousness where there is injustice.
Send your winds of creativity to disturb
any stagnation of our talent and treasure
so they may become new expressions of your
presence blowing among us. Amen.
Christmas Eve
With creation, we’ve waited.
With creation, we’ve wondered
Where you are sparking new life into creation.
(Light Advent Candle of Fire)
We’ve wondered how your current of
persistent love is shaping our souls,
(Light Advent candle of water).
We’ve wondered where in creation and
from what body your body will emerge.
(Light Advent candle of earth)
And we’ve wondered how your breath will inspire.
(Light Advent Candle of air)
We’ve wondered, all the while held in hope.
Now our hopes are fulfilled.
Our light has come!
(Light Christmas Candle)
Sonja Ingebritsen
The Examen-“Rearview Mirror Meditation”
Set aside a half hour or more, have paper and pen, or writing device nearby.
Breathe deeply for five or more minutes. Feel into your physical self. In your body, where are you tense? Spacious? Flexible? Are there spots of bliss or resistance? Simply notice any sensations without judgment or analysis.
SHIFT
Allow your attention to travel your life timeline. Recall age five, or the youngest age you remember. What energies, sensations, or memories surface? For what are you thankful, grateful, and least grateful? Acknowledge without judgment, and move on.
Cruise
Recall age 10. ..
Recall age fifteen. . .
Recall age twenty. . .
Pause for a minute, and fast track into present time, on this present date. Acknowledge the road you’ve traveled, together with any consistencies and incongruities.
Now recall age twenty five. . .
Recall age thirty. . .
Recall age forty. . .
Continue to your present age—or stop at your present age.
Tune Into Your Birthday Age, This Year
Pause to idle in the present time: what reveals itself to you about here and now, the life you live, the silence you do-or don’t—cultivate, the kindness you embrace and share, and life blessings for which you give thanks?
Reflect on the Year Ahead
Choose one aspect of your life to tend with care and compassion. Be willing to give permission to fine tune the necessary actions and changes to involve all the best parts of yourself to engage and shift into gear. Who and which activities fuel your creativity, compassion, kindness? Can you create a roadmap?
Stop
In your own words, on paper or in silence of your mind and heart, give thanks for life in all of its beauty, complexity, and simplicity. Then, park all your thoughts, and simply attend to the present moment.
KEY
The next time you meet with your spiritual guide or companion, give permission for this reflection to become part of your exploration and inquiry together.

Mary at Her Annunciation as a Model for Growing in the Virtue of Faith By Gerald M. Fagin, SJ
From Putting on the Heart of Christ: How the Spiritual Exercises Invite Us to a Virtuous Life Mary at her Annunciation models faith for us. She shows us that faith is more than assent, but is also trust, commitment, obedience, and submission. Mary trusted in God’s promises, was obedient to God’s word of invitation in her life, surrendered to the mystery before her, and committed herself to be part of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus. At the same time, we can easily romanticize the Gospel scene—Mary is at prayer, an angel appears, and she says a faith-filled yes. The Scripture also tells us that she was deeply troubled and wondered what the angel’s greeting meant. Certainly the angel’s explanation only left her with more questions and concerns. She did not say yes because she fully understood or had all her questions answered. She said yes in faith and trust. We do Mary a disservice to think she had some infused knowledge that dispelled all her doubts. She was a young woman of extraordinary faith. The “yes” at the Annunciation was not the first “yes” in her life nor would it be the last. The really significant yeses in our lives also demand a great deal of trust and openness. We cannot know all the implications of them. We respond to the gift of God’s call in our lives. We say yes in hope and trust. Like Mary, we say “yes” to something being born in us that must grow and mature and take a shape we cannot predict. We are called to that depth of faith as we contemplate the story of the Annunciation and all the stories of the life of Jesus in the rest of the [Spiritual] Exercises. We are called to trust, obedience, surrender, and commitment in our own lives. We will hear an invitation to share in the work of Jesus and respond and live in faith. Living in faith demands surrender to the stories of God and Jesus recorded in the Scriptures. Christian faith especially demands that we let the stories of Jesus shape our minds and hearts. Paul Wadell says that to live in faith means that we “appropriate these stories, striving to embody their viewpoints, values, and vision as our own. To assent to the truths of faith portrayed in the Scripture is to allow them to become the interpretative framework for our world.” Wadell feels we need these narratives “to mold and shape us, especially in the attitudes and virtues of Jesus.” Ignatian imaginative prayer on the Gospel stories is a powerful way to grow in faith by putting on the heart of Christ. As Jesus trusted, obeyed, surrendered, and committed his life to the Father, we are to respond in the same way. All the contemplations on the Gospels throughout the Exercises foster growth in the virtue of faith that empowers us to trust God and commit ourselves to service. Excerpt from Putting on the Heart of Christ: How the Spiritual Exercises Invite Us to a Virtuous Life by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ. – See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/21st-century-ignatian-voices/mary-at-her-annunciation-as-a-model-for-growing-in-the-virtue-of-faith/#sthash.EDXFwTza.dpuf

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