How to Grow in Spirit this Advent Season

By Melissa Novak

Have you ever let out a deep sigh of frustration as you wait your turn in line? You look around and wonder if another register is going to open up so that you can run over to it. You might tap your foot impatiently or make a comment about how long it is taking to the person behind you. You might have been in a rush, or you might have just been impatient.

We live in such a fast-paced culture that waiting minutes, sometimes even seconds, can feel irritating. But Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting in hopeful anticipation of the coming of the Lord. In a society where we are constantly on the move, Advent invites us to slow down. Here are some ways to slow down this Advent without falling behind in your schedule.

Redirect your impatience

Praying the Rosary
Praying the Rosary is a great way to slow down and reflect on God’s plan for us.

Whether you’re in a hurry or not, if someone is driving slower than the speed you’d like to go it can be frustrating. Why are we always in a hurry anyway? Pray for the person in the car in front of you. It can be something simple like, “God please bless this person today. Help them to recognize your presence in their lives.”

Praying the Rosary in the car is also a great way to grow closer to Jesus through Mary and to practice patience in the car. I can tell you from experience that you’re much less likely to swear at the person that cut you off when you’re mid ‘Hail Mary.’

Pray the daily examen when you lay down at night

The daily examen is a great way to reflect on the day, and it’s different than an examination of conscience that you would reflect upon prior to confession. It helps you become more aware of God’s presence throughout the day and helps you to make better choices.
>>Click here to learn how to pray the examen

Take a day of rest each week

Your calendar is overfilled this month with holiday parties and family functions. How can you squeeze anything else in?! “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation (Genesis 2:3).”

God wants us to rest! A day of rest does not mean binge watching Netflix. It might include going to Mass (definitely if it’s a weekend!), spending time with your family, exercising, picking up the phone and calling Aunt Betty, reading a book, etc. It’s important to find a balance between your social, work and personal life. Otherwise you will get burnt-out.

Pray more

Don’t have time to spend hours in Adoration? It’s okay! Prayer is about quality, not quantity. Praying while you’re running through a to-do list in your mind or have the TV blaring in the background is not quality prayer.

God calls us to live holy lives, and to do that we should pray throughout the day. Here are some ideas for how to pray better:

  • Listen to only Christian music in the car, or don’t listen to music in the car at all. Practice silence so that you can discern God’s direction for your life.
  • Pray for the people in line with you as you wait at the store, restaurant, etc.
  • Fast from social media after 6 p.m. Every time you are tempted to login, say a quick prayer.
  • Attend daily Mass, even if it’s only once a week. The grace you will receive from the Eucharist is worth getting up early for!
  • Pray for every homeless person you see on the street while driving. (Better yet, keep extra hand warmers or granola bars in your car for them!)
  • Make a 3-minute retreat complete with music, beautiful images, scripture and reflection questions at https://www.loyolapress.com/3-minute-retreats-daily-online-prayer.

From the staff at St. Mary Parish, we hope you have a fruitful Advent season, growing in virtue and in your relationship with the Lord.

Melissa Novak is the Adult Formation Director at Saint Mary Parish in Mokena.

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