O.k., this time I mean it. How can Christmas be only two weeks away? I am starting to understand the sentiment of my parents, who are nineteen times grandparents, when they find themselves with less time on their hands than when they were raising kids themselves. What can we do? How do we slow things down?
Well, the purpose of the Advent season is to slow us down. In the readings we continue to hear about the need for patience, waiting and hope. This Sunday’s second reading from St. James tell us to “be patient brothers and sisters until the coming of the Lord.” Patience involves a deliberate, sometimes painful slowing down and waiting. If we find ourselves hurried and occupied at every step how can we cultivate patience?
The best way to slow down so as to live in patience is through prayer. Actually, I don’t think that it is possible over the long run to remain in patience without prayer. Think of how Jesus constantly turned to the Father in prayer, often very early in the morning. Jesus’ prayer disposed him to live patiently and trustingly in the Father’s love.
What I am going to say may surprise you. If you want to make progress on slowing down and reducing the crazy pace of your life, then add something. Yep, the requirement for simplifying one’s life is to add another thing, namely, prayer.
In prayer we do not change God, rather we find ourselves changed. At the beginning of the month I offered the Advent Challenge to spend at least 7 minutes in continuous prayer each day of the Advent season. For those of you who have taken on the challenge, great work, add another two minutes. For those of you who have not taken on the Advent Challenge of 7 minutes of daily prayer, how about starting today or tomorrow? You might be surprised about how adding “another thing” actually simplifies your life down with the result of greater patience and joy.