This 4th week of Advent is the week that brings us to the climax -- Christmas. With the start of the O Antiphons to the readings that prepare us for the most wonderful moment imaginable, the Incarnation, the world is just a little more electric this week. It's not just the busyness that precedes the Feast of the Birth of Our Lord, it's something more sublime. It can't be helped, even in a secular world; the world just feels a little lighter.
I have been working on praying with a particular emphasis on "letting go" -- seeking a more contemplative spirit in prayer. It's quite challenging, but it's best begun at this time of year -- this is the time for anticipation a new birth in this season of preparation and awakening. The world will awake to Wonder on Christmas morning. Similarly, I desire to awake to Wonder in each moment of my prayer.
It is not consolation that I seek, but a relationship with Christ. If there are gifts that He gives, then I am grateful. But I don't expect anything, not even the sense that He hears me; I have faith that He hears me because He has told me so in Scripture. The sweet abandon of His presence; the warmth of His nearness; the joy of His attention, that is desire. St. Teresa of Avila put it this way:
Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.Now is the time to let that relationship with Our Lord develop and be born within by "taking time frequently" to share intimately with Him Who dwells within by virtue of baptism. It doesn't take more than a moment to read a passage of Scripture or some other spiritual work and reflect upon the Lord. Then, have a quietly speak with Him. Within those conversations there may sometimes be moments that are just silent, moments of understanding between friends where one just holds the other close and no words are spoken. Other times, will hold lively conversations about life, love, work, relationships, and the Lord, like the Generous Confidant that He is, listens intently to all, and offers encouragement. The Lord reveals that there is something sweet and special about knowing Him intimately, even if it is only a brief encounter, a glimmer of contemplation.
Contemplation is not something we can control; it is not a discipline that we can work at to achieve. Rather, it is pure gift. What we can do is work on making the time for quiet and offer all our daily work as acts of love. Teresa says to "accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul." We need to get into a daily routine of spending time with Our Lord. It's as simple as 10 min a day in reading, reflection and conversation. It puts us in the will of God so that all we endeavor to do can be done for love of Him.
As we walk out into the frenzy of this week of "O" so much anticipation, remember to enkindle the fire of love in your heart by preparing that place for the Christ Child to be born and dwell. Stop for just a moment and make sure He knows that the anticipation is all for Him.