Notice the transforming presence of God within you. Let go of words and images. Surrender all that is stirring, even if only briefly, and rest for a few minutes in God’s embrace.
My day begins at five o’clock every morning. In the stillness of that hour, I pray the Morning Office, spending time in quiet reflection. I have kept this discipline for more than twenty years. For the past several years, I have used various prayer books and breviaries and other meditation resources in cycles of the liturgical seasons, in an effort to broaden my spiritual encounter with the living God. This practice continues to be very revealing.
Since moving to Saint John’s a few months ago, I frequently join in the monastic community’s Morning Prayer in the Abbey Church at seven o’clock, as a kind of part two to my time alone with God in the morning before beginning the day’s work. This is a treasure and a gift of being here in this Benedictine community.
This week, I have added visio divina toward the end of my morning time of contemplation. As I have sat in silence with the “Birth of Christ”, I have become more aware of surrendering to God in this Advent time of expectancy in which we are bidden to wait for the Coming of Christ. This week has truly been the hinge time of Advent for me, as I have lived with the tension of celebrating Advent with it’s dual themes of the First and Second Comings of Christ. In the first part of this season of Advent, the Church’s focus has been on the Second Coming of our Lord at the end of time when he will judge both the living and the dead. The tension exists because much of our society is already at Christmas – office parties, Christmas musical concerts, family and friends gathering – all in the wonderful spirit of merriment! This is the fast track into Christmas Day!!
Seeing the Word in contemplation on the “Birth of Christ” this week has made me live with stillness into the latter part of the Advent season in which we focus more toward the First Coming of our Lord – the Christ Child, the Babe of Bethlehem, lying in a manger. This is the slow and patient track into the Christmas Season (not Day) – the twelve day feast from 25 December to 6 January, the feast of the Epiphany when we celebrate the Light of Christ coming into the world.
Are you still and patient in this season of busyness? How can we each slow down to enjoy the love and wonder of the Birth of Christ? May I encourage you to pause for a bit and sit in the quiet of your heart and feel that same Light in your soul that is reflected on Mary’s face and on the shepherds.
“A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.”
– Fr Kirtley Yearwood
© Birth of Christ, Donald Jackson, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.