December 24, 2016 – Silence

Words cannot describe how excited my children are for tomorrow. Their eyes are glowing and they are twitching and bouncing all over the house. While we aren’t experiencing many “Silent Nights”, their joyful energy is filling the house with special emphasis on our nativity scene.

Advent Prayer Reflections - Christmas Eve. dailygraces.net
Traveling Mary and Joseph – Fontanini Nativity set. CC Kate Taliaferro 2016.

Last year for Christmas Ben gave me a “traveling” Mary and Joseph. Mary is pregnant and sitting on the donkey while Joseph walks beside her. I love the realism. Mary looks exhausted and is barefoot. Joseph also looks weary but still shows the way. They have been traveling to the manger scene since we set up the nativity. We put up the the more traditionally posed Mary and Joseph along with Baby Jesus and the kids know that today Mary and Joseph will finally arrive at the stable. At first, they kept asking “Where are the real Mary and Joseph? The ones who sit by Jesus?” It was interesting to see how even at 5 and 4 years old they already have impressed in their minds the image of the Holy Family peacefully sitting in the stable.

This got me thinking about our past 4 weeks of Advent prayer experiences. We exposed ourselves to a variety of prayer forms, reflections and methods. Prayer is so many things! It is preparation and petition. It is reflection and listening. Prayer has the power to transform and stabilize. Ideally, prayer is our relationship with our God.

Look at Mary and Joseph on their journey. Because of their relationship with God they were open to His divine presence working in their lives. When the angel came to both of them (Mary at the Annunciation and Joseph in his dream) they were given the opportunity to say “yes” to God’s Will for their lives. They continued to say yes each day that followed, all the way to this day, the day before the Day.

We, too, have been preparing our hearts and minds this Advent to welcome the Christ child. We have shouted with John the Baptist, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” and we have quietly offered our own yes to God’s Will. For today, I’d encourage you to spend your 3 minutes in silent union with the Holy Family. Spend your time in silence, finding the tension between peaceful trust and anxious anticipation that Mary and Joseph must have felt on this morning.

It is the last day of travel and unbeknownst to them, the last day of Mary’s pregnancy. They probably shared their breakfast together and I would bet they prayed together. Ahead of the them the road was probably becoming crowded and noisy. They may have been worried about where they would stay that night. Would today be the day their precious baby, God’s son, would be born?

In the midst of all the excitement, noise and celebration today brings, allow yourself a few minutes to be united with Mary and Joseph as they awaited the coming of their Savior, their son.

*** Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook pageDaily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

December 11, 2016 – Active Anticipation

Thus far we have looked in-depth into 2 Advent themes that, when broken down into manageable chunks, can become useful for daily prayer and applicable to daily life. Advent teaches us to be a people of preparation. We await the coming of Jesus at the end of time. At the same time, by daily communicating with God, our prayer transforms us. We become aware of the gap between our will and God’s Will and as our prayer matures we begin to desire these two wills to become one. Mary’s fiat gives us a concrete and profound example of what this union looks like.

A few days ago, I talked about how Mary’s fiat compels her to action. This movement, from communion to action, is the focus of this week. One of the main themes of Advent is a feeling of anticipation. We as a people of faith are anticipating the coming of Jesus, both as an infant and at the end of time. We read about the Jewish people as they waited for the Messiah to come. Consider the following passage from today’s First Reading from the book of Isaiah:

Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing (Isaiah 35:4b-6a)

We will know when God is coming by His actions. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will be healed and the mute will be able to speak.

Now let’s look at the Gospel. John the Baptist has sent some followers to Jesus to ask Him if He is the awaited one or if they are still anticipating the coming of God. Jesus’ response should ring a bell:

“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them (Matthew 11:4-6).

John’s followers were given the answer to their question not in words but in actions. They knew the Messiah by His fulfillment of the promises of God, by His actions.

By now we should be settled into our 3 minutes of prayer each day. It helps us stay prepared, maintain good prayer habits and gives us the opportunity to talk to God about any number of things while we grow our relationship with Him. This week, I would like to see how that prayer, this growing relationship, serves as the springboard for our actions. Our relationship with God is our foundation. How we choose to live it out is the house or actions that stand upon it.

Today, let’s consider our proverbial “front door.” This is the first thing that people encounter when they come to your home. I would liken the front door to our overall attitude and disposition. Are we a welcoming, joyful person? Are we reserved or guarded? Do we greet others even if they are strangers or do we keep to ourselves? Do we let a previous poor experience color the way we view the one we are in and in what way?

No matter what is going on in our lives, there is one feature that, according to Pope Francis, all Christians must endeavor to hang on their “front door.” This is joy. Today, spend your 3 minutes after your intentional Sign of the Cross reading these words by our pope and sincerely ask yourself if joy is what you display on your “front door.”

“The Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that – even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life – is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us. ” (http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/05/23/pope_francis_christians_live_god%E2%80%99s_love_with_joy/1231777)

***Have you experienced God fulfilling a promise? Perhaps it came as an answer to prayer and perseverance? How does seeing the way God fulfilled His promises in the Bible give you hope for your life? Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com