Time to wake up!

Tuesday night we went to a dinner put on by the diocese to celebrate the beginning of Advent. It was such a nice evening: a wine and cheese reception (with, in my oenophile husband’s estimation, a very well-chosen selection of wines), a delicious dinner, then a talk about Advent by our bishop, all on a cold night within the cozy confines of the diocesan retreat center.

alarm clock Time to wake up!I had expected the bishop’s speech to be a dry, academic overview of Advent; instead, it was a surprisingly refreshing call to action to “Wake up!” and prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas. He held up an alarm clock to emphasize that Advent is, among other things, a time of waking up to Christ. He also used the current time on the clock as a symbolic reminder to look for Christ’s presence in the present moment: right here, right now. He pointed to the clock and encouraged us to ask ourselves, “Where do we see Christ, right here in this moment, at 8:48 on a Tuesday night?”

This wake-up call (so to speak) was exactly what I needed. Earlier in my conversion I was much more conscious of God’s presence in all things. As I’ve grown more complacent, however, I’ve fallen into compartmentalizing the times that I look for God. At Mass on Sundays? Certainly. In precious moments with my children? Yes. In my daily interactions with friends and family? Well, not usually. At the grocery store when it’s crowded and I’m in a hurry and people are cutting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and then WALKING SLOOOOWLY as a seemingly deliberate attempt to DRIVE ME INSANE? Umm…no.

Looking for Christ in each moment, no matter how mundane or routine or frustrating my circumstances, is something I definitely need to work on. Our bishop suggested that we start each day during Advent with this simple prayer (I’m paraphrasing from memory, but I think that’s pretty close):

Lord, I know that you will reveal yourself to me today. Give me the eyes of faith to see you. Help me be awake.

“Help me be awake.” After a long summer and fall where I allowed spiritual dryness to become spiritual laziness, this is exactly the prayer I need to be saying right now.

photo by Tony Newell

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11 Responses to “Time to wake up!”
  1. Jen says:

    Thank you for sharing this. “Help me stay awake”. That’s what I need to be bring to prayer right now too. I’ve slumped into spiritual laziness as you called it as well and while I’m doing “better” then I was a few weeks ago….I could still be doing so, so much MORE better.

  2. Gorgasal says:

    Interesting post. Sounds a little like the “sanctification of daily life”, which is the key part of Opus Dei spirituality. This also very much appeals to me – I could definitely use a little more “finding Christ in my ordinary life”! I’m reading the book by John Allen on Opus Dei right now, very nice and balanced.

    BTW: your REWP inspired me to start saying Lauds, Vespers and Compline every day. Thanks for that pointer!

  3. Flexo says:

    “Where do we see Christ, right here in this moment, at 8:48 on a Tuesday night?”

    In the womb of Mary.

    Throughout the year, when we think of Christ, we invariably think of Him during His ministry, Passion, Resurrection, or reigning up there in heaven. A couple of times during Christmastime, we speak of “baby Jesus,” but there is often still a disconnect — we think that the “real” Jesus is the adult whose words we know.

    But there is great value in reflecting upon Jesus the baby. Just as there is great value in reflecting upon Jesus as the God/Man, fully God, yet fully a man, there is also great value in reflecting upon Jesus as the God/Baby, fully God, yet fully a tiny, defenseless, needy baby.

    And there is value in looking down to see the baby in our own womb, putting ourselves in the place of Mary, embracing the not-yet-born Jesus with our hands.

    Especially during Advent, this is the Jesus we should reflect upon, in addition to reflecting upon the usual waiting for the (adult) bridegroom/master/king to arrive.

    As all-powerful as the Creator of the Universe is, Jesus the God/Baby teaches us that it is part of His plan to need our help, that He is relying on us to help Him, to feed Him, to clothe Him, to protect Him, to love Him. This is implicit in the whole idea of the Church – whose mission is to help Him – but the Baby Jesus places it in stark, tangible form. The Almighty makes Himself a baby so that we might welcome Him and love Him, and thereby love others.

    And so, for whom do we await, where do we see Christ at this moment? Yes, He is the King, but He is also the Baby. Right now, He is the baby in the womb, the God who is literally drawing on the human flesh and life of Mary for His own (human) survival. The baby who needs her, the baby who needs us.

    (Of course, I’m not so smart as to think up something so profound myself. I stole the idea from (who else?) our professor Pope:

    “. . . God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him. . . . The Son himself is the Word, the Logos; the eternal Word became small – small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the Word could be grasped by us. In this way God teaches us to love the little ones. In this way he teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us respect for children. The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn. Towards children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; towards children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; towards children who are unloved. In all of these it is the Child of Bethlehem who is crying out to us; it is the God who has become small who appeals to us. Let us pray this night that the brightness of God’s love may enfold all these children. Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected. May they all experience the light of l ove, which mankind needs so much more than the material necessities of life. . . .”
    Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, Midnight Mass, Christmas 2006

  4. edie+steve says:

    I listened to a great piece of talk radio today from Issues Etc. that talked about the hiddenness of God….He’s always right where we are not looking. I love your reflections…..and hate posting a comment after the brilliant thesis before me. But hey…what’s a busy homeschooling mom to do?

  5. Penny says:

    Thank you so very much :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    here’s a project:
    http://www.rosariesforlife.com/

    The widget computer rosary is very helpful.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is a good blog with a lot of spiritual guidance through prayer.

    http://vultus.stblogs.org/

  8. Kelly @ Love Well says:

    That’s a great prayer. Open our eyes, Lord. Your glory is all around us.

  9. Shannon says:

    As I was leaving for prison last Sunday, I noticed a bumper sticker on a neighbor’s car: “Jesus is coming. Look busy!” I used that for my homily that morning, asking the question “What sort of busy work does the gospel suggest?” The guys were good. Feed the hungry. Comfort the mourning. Visit the prisoners. Yep.

  10. 'Becca says:

    The best Advent advice I’ve ever heard is to use every time you find yourself waiting as a time for prayer. As a public transit rider, I do a lot of waiting; once I started thinking about it, I found that my days also include waiting for my kid to do things, waiting for water to boil, etc. Prayer is a much better filler for these times than impatience or distraction. Waiting for the bus, I look around and pray for each person I can see, trying to sense what their needs may be.

    Your phrase “8:48 on a Tuesday” struck me: One of my vivid memories of September 11, 2001, is kissing my boyfriend goodbye just before he stepped off the bus at his stop, then looking at my watch which said 8:48am, then looking out at the blue blue sky and feeling grateful for the beautiful day. 8:48 was later reported by some sources as the moment the first plane struck the World Trade Center. I am so grateful for that moment of love and happiness at the beginning of what became a terrifying day, and for the weather that cradled me in beauty and comfort as I walked home after my office building was evacuated, wondering what other horrors were unfolding at that moment yet unable to ignore the joy of living. When I tell my child the sad story of what happened that day, I will begin with that moment, my own experience of 8:48 on a Tuesday.

  11. Diana says:

    That has been my goal this Christmas season, to find Him and His gifts to me in every day, I’ve actually been writing about it on my personal blog, each day sharing a gift I found in my “every day” life. It’s done wonders for the bah humbug attitude that was trying to take residence in my heart.

    As the song says..
    “Turn your eyes upon Jesus
    Look full in His wonderful face
    And the things of earth will grow strangly dim
    In the light of His glory and grace”