This Advent, I have been using a weekly journal that began with the brand new liturgical year in late November. I have to admit, I am enjoying the weekly journal, because daily journals went so poorly in the past. As in, I would journal dutifully for a few days, and then fall off of the wagon. The weekly format is keeping it a realistic goal that I will carry on and not feel like a Journaling School Dropout.
In addition to that psychological victory, I have been using the main reflective question each week as a prompt for an Advent series on my blog. Writing on my blog, in its own way an online journal, has nudged me to explore the questions in more depth than I would in the small space left for my writing in the journal itself. Although we’re now just beginning the third week of Advent, the prompt for the second Sunday of Advent applies quite well to our current place just past halfway through this liturgical season:
John encourages us to change our lives to prepare for Jesus's coming. What changes do I need to make this Advent?
The gospel reading inspiring this question was the dramatic retelling of how wacky St. John the Baptist was living in the desert by himself, wearing some sort of camel-hair garment (ouch!) and eating locusts and wild honey. Confident and self-assured in his own eccentricity, John the Baptist certainly was. And his message is very bold:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
"Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
The message from these passages is clear to me: John does not want us to be passive Christians in our relationship with Christ, and in our example to others. We need to LIVE the Christian message. Although John did not shy away from shouting out provocative messages, I do not think he is telling us that we have to be in anyone's face loudly reciting the Gospel message. He wants us to be bold in our proclamation by example.
[Tweet "I should be constantly at peace with my faith + my Lord, but am I? By @CatholicTiffany"]
So what does this mean for my life? I am a Nervous Nelly. I should be constantly at peace with my faith and my Lord, and yet am I? I am not. I am always frittering about to and fro, anxious about this thing and that. Why, and for what? This is a useless exercise, and no amount of self-awareness on this issue has ever effected a long term difference. But Advent and Lent always offer us a fresh start in terms of self-examination and spiritual goal setting. This week, I am going to try and take John's advice. I am going to adopt peace as my aspirational Advent goal, living that out within my own little universe, and passing it on to others where I can.
That is the change that I need to make this Advent.
What is your Advent goal this week? What small thing can you do to change your life this Advent? I would love to hear from you in the comments!
Copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh
About the Author
Tiffany Walsh is a wife and mother, a native western New Yorker, and a college librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student via her love of books, and is the author of Exploring the Catholic Classics, part of the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series. She enjoys writing about faith, crafting, dance, fitness and wellness. Visit her blog at Life of a Catholic Librarian.