Now I'm old enough to see life through the humility that experience teaches. For the things that matter more than multiplication tables, perfection is out of reach. I'm called to practice.
1. to do something again and again in order to become better at it.
2. to do something regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life.
So this Advent, I'm putting deliberate focus on PRACTICING contemplation. I found over a dozen websites with great Advent practice options. I find myself returning most often to the very basic practice of using breath to become aware of God's presence, and, in that awareness, being myself honestly and being honestly open to God. My long-time favorite, the Irish Jesuits, have an Advent retreat that I often use. Ignatian spirituality wakes up my imagination into prayer.
All of us in the church are practicing. Isn't that the call? Putting Jesus' gospel into action in a deliberate, daily way; making it an ordinary part of our lives; and becoming better at it over time.
I also like the lower-case version of being a "practicing catholic." Practicing comprehensiveness and universality. Practicing to be more and more
whole and more and more connected with all that is. That practice is a solid path to fuller appreciation of the sacramental consciousness that so strongly marks the Catholic Church.
As Patrick J.Sullivan eloquently wrote, "Living a sacramental worldview means, quite simply, viewing the world as sacrament. A redundant definition it might be, but often times the simplest explanations are the best. If we do truly believe that the Sacraments are moments in time where the invisible grace of God is made visible and tangible then seeing this same grace working constantly in and through our daily lives would only beg that we see the sacramental nature of daily life. This is not to say that every blade of grass is truly the transubstantiated body of Christ, but it does substantiate St. Ignatius’s charge to see God in all things. Furthermore, viewing the world through “sacramentally-tinted glasses” would mean seeing the very world itself as sacramental; it would mean recognizing our lives and everything that they contain as the gift that they are. Indeed, it would mean seeing this world, our fallen world, for what it truly is: a tangible sign of the invisible and salvific grace of God. That being said, the question is not so much what it means to live with a sacramental worldview, but rather how this worldview will change the way we act." (Thanks to the website and people of the Catholic Apostolate Center.)
Being a practicing Catholic means carrying this awareness with me all the time, everywhere I go, so I get better at it. Contemplation is a necessary part of carrying that awareness. So this Advent, for me, practicing includes creating time apart for contemplation. What are you practicing this Advent?