Moments of Mercy: Be Alert and Live Advent Well

Practice being alert to God’s presence and mercy in the world this Advent. Try these practices:

Be with the Lord in prayer, especially at Eucharistic Adoration. Bring a current problem to Christ, and ask Him to work on it and to help you clear your mind of anxiety. During Advent, watch for signs that Jesus is helping you. Notice any space that opens for other gifts you may receive or are more able to give. Pray, “Lord, prepare my heart.”

-As you prepare for the coming of Christ, clean out a drawer or closet, or even reduce your ornament collection. Donate useful items to others who may need them. The process of deciding what things to keep and what to toss or give away is a model for being alert for spiritual clutter. What worries or distractions are you holding on to out of fear or habit? Are they keeping you from a closer relationship with the Lord? St. Ignatius would tell us to consider, “Do I cling to what I want, or do I make room for what God wants? Does this habit bring me closer to God? Does this worry bring glory to God?” If not, it may be time to let it go. For Ignatius, our relationship with the Lord is so important that, “We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one” (“Spiritual Exercises” 23).

-Take the time waiting in a shopping line or while on hold to breathe and be aware of God’s mercy toward you. Use the moment to ask God to be with those who are anxious, exhausted, depressed or alone.

Practice hope. This is the time to remember that Jesus came to save us. He is doing it now, and He will come again. In this troubled world, we need to be a hopeful people. Let’s keep going to church and praying, even though life seems scary. Let’s sing the songs, give gifts and decorate. Let’s use our talents to bring hope to others: Bake, sew, call, talk, laugh. Let’s be welcoming to kids, family and others we meet. God so loved the world that He came to be with us.

O come, Emmanuel! Live Advent well.

For more Advent practices, try using one of these Advent Calendars from Loyola Press :