Beyond Christmas: Living Advent
By Ashourina Slewo
As the Advent season ends, we look back to our Advent Retreat on December 9, specifically drawing on the words of Sister Ann Shields, who gave two talks at the retreat. Sr. Shields stressed the importance of staying rooted in our faith and Christ throughout the year and not just during Advent season.
The first step to living Advent all year, according to Sr. Shields, is prayer. Genuine prayer, not a quick, “token” prayer, is imperative to growing closer in your faith throughout the year. “I would say the first thing that you want in your own heart and in your own spirit, is that you have time for prayer every day,” said Sr. Ann Shields. “Don’t make excuses because if you do, then more excuses will come along because God isn’t standing over you saying, “What about me? What about me?”. You would pay attention if He was standing over you. He’s quiet. He gives you free will.”
The second step to living Advent all year, is accepting forgiveness. Forgiveness from God is instant and unlike humans, God forgets our sins. Recalling her own experience with accepting forgiveness from God, Sr. Ann states that we must be willing to accept God’s forgiveness as he instantly forgives and even forgets.
From there comes repentance, accepting that a mistake has been made and moving on to becoming better. Being able to admit to a mistake, then apologize and pick yourself up and move on is just one step in the right direction. Scripture tells us that as long as one repents, they will draw closer to God. This ability to repent will bring you one step closer to living Advent all year.
“I am a poor, weak, sinful creature. I make all kinds of mistakes, but I repent,” said Sr. Ann. “I think the key is repentance because God wants to shine his light into a world that’s getting darker and he wants to use us to help others find the way.”
Finally, giving yourself over to Christ completely, without reservation, without a doubt and truly meaning it is key. Through this great act, we are able to carry the immense faith we feel at Christmas time with us every day.
“How much have you taken your life, your work, your hopes, your dreams and really given them to God and said ‘Lord, this is what we would like to do, will you bless us? Will you guide us?’” asked Sr. Ann. “That’s an example of faith. It’s great faith when you can give yourself and really mean it.
These are just a few ways in which one can live Advent all year. Living Advent all year is not limited to just these; there is no clear-cut guide. However, acts of faith throughout the year, paired with prayer, repentance, and giving yourself over to God, will ensure that you live Advent.
“’Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for and conviction about the things we do not see’,” said Sr. Ann, quoting the Book of Hebrews.