LOVE YOURSELF – PRAY – SHARE YOUR FAITH – BE A FRIEND – REBOOT
It’s that time again when everyone is asking: “What do you want for Christmas?” Electronics are high on the list for a lot of people. But even with the benefits that electronics can bring to our lives, they often do not work correctly, get hijacked by hackers seeking to do “no good” and they need a reboot to get back on track and working properly. Our spiritual lives can be like that, too. So what do we really want… or need… for Christmas this year? Could it be a closer relationship with Christ? How can we REBOOT our spiritual lives?
On October 10th, the seven parishes of Orland Park and Tinley Park hosted the first collaborative event for our Renew My Church grouping. At this REBOOT event, presented by Chris Stefanick from Real Life Catholic, we were given five habits to help us grow in (reboot) our spiritual lives: Love Yourself, Pray, Share the Faith, Friendship and REBOOT. We wanted to share these with you so that our whole parish could benefit from Chris’ inspiration. Each of the four weeks of Advent we will focus on one habit. We suggest you work on one habit each week of Advent whether individually, with your family, or in small groups. During the Christmas season, let’s talk about how we can REBOOT our faith for the New Year and beyond. The information in italics comes from the take home book distributed by Chris (reallifecatholic.com). It gives the five habits and key ideas and questions about each. The information in bold, gives ideas for connecting Chris’ habit with the scripture for the particular Sunday week.
WEEK THREE (DECEMBER 16) – SHARE THE FAITH – We have the best news ever, and the world needs to hear it more than ever. But we do not only share the Gospel because the world needs to hear it, we share it because we cannot keep the best news ever to ourselves! So, what is stopping you from sharing the faith?
First and foremost, we share the faith by example. That is especially true with our families and neighbors who can see, up close and personal, the kind of people we are. But do not despair if you are not perfect1 (Newsflash, no one is!) You do not have to be perfect to share the faith. Your only have to be authentic.
There is an overused saying that we should preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words. But words are often necessary. Use the. It may be as simple as a “God bless you” a the checkout counter, “I’m praying for you” to the person who just told you they had a bad day, or “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. Wanna come to church with me?” Whenever you do that, you lead someone closer to friendship with God.
Do not impose your discomfort about sharing the faith on others. Most people do not mind it, and many respect it. But even if you share the faith and someone acts dismissive of you, le tit go, keep loving them, and knowing that you have led them to think about God. And you never know where that might lead them in the end.
The scriptures for the Third Sunday of Advent are all about joy — joy in the Lord, in his salvation, and in his love for us. St. Paul reminds us to show kindness and love to others, but if we have not first loved ourselves and found ourselves worthy of love, and at peace with God, how well can we love others? John the Baptist tells the people, and us, what they are to do. Share all that we have, live a righteous life and be satisfied with what we have. John also preaches the good news of Christ to them. He share his faith in the one who is coming after him who will baptize all people with fire and the Holy Spirit. Are we who were baptized filled with this fire? Do we preach Christ in this season of preparation for Christmas? Do we invite others to come to church with us as we prepare together? Or is it all about what we want or what we can get? Do we need to power down the way we are living and reboot our Christmas preparation?
WEEK TWO (DECEMBER 9) – PRAY – Theresa of Avila described prayer as “an intimate sharing between friends”. Like any conversation between friends, prayer is how we grow daily in our friendship with God. And because we were made for that friendship, prayer unleashes new power in our hearts, perspective in our minds, and opens new paths in our lives. But for all the blessings prayer promises, it is also meant to be simple.
Prayer is a heart to heart conversation with someone who loves you very much. In a conversation, we speak and we listen. But how do we listen to God? By reading his word. If you do not think God speaks to you, you have not read your bible.
Carve out five minutes at the start of each day to read the daily gospel from Mass. Google daily Mass readings and then, after reading, talk with God from your heart. Events like REBOOT can inspire you. Making a simple habit of conversing with God before you face each day will change you forever.
If we are not careful, all the most important things can get buried under all the busy-making things in life. We forget to love your spouses, forget to play catch with our kids, forget to soak in a sunset… and forget to converse with our Maker We have to be disciplined about making time for the most important things. When we are, everything else falls into place. As C.S. Lewis said, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”
The scriptures for the Second Sunday of Advent and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (which falls on Saturday of week two) focus on the importance of prayer in keeping our lives running smoothly. Mary, chosen to be the mother of God, after her encounter with Gabriel, raises up a prayer of praise to God, her Magnificat. She offers a prayer of joy in submission to the will of God. The first reading speaks of hope for the chosen people and of the glory of God’s worship. In the second reading, St. Paul too prays with joy. His prayer is for the continuance of God’s goodness toward those in whom God has begun a good work. Isn’t that all of us who were baptized in his name?
The gospel speaks of the voice crying out in the desert. Who of us has never been in a desert? Maybe even in the midst of our Christmas preparations when we might become depressed or anxious because our lives do not meet the unrealistic expectations that our culture puts on a perfect Christmas celebration. Our voice can become the one crying out in the desert to say “Enough of this commercialism and man-made happiness.” Let us Prepare the way of the Lord, by rebooting our lives through constant and joyful prayer.
WEEK ONE (DECEMBER 2) – LOVE YOURSELF – Jesus said to love others as yourself That means he was presuming that his followers loved themselves! Why is love of self so important as a foundation for the spiritual life? Because the spiritual life is all about being receptive to the love that is God. We have to claim the fact that we are worthy of love to be open to HIS love. Furthermore, if we want to be inspiring people, we have to take the time for things that inspire us first.
You are constantly talking to yourself. Do you rip yourself down or build yourself up? Do you speak lies to yourself or truths? You need to claim the Word of God and speak truth to yourself — the truth from Him about you.
Meeting people’s basis human needs was important to Jesus. He loved to feed people, wash their feet, and have them rest with him. It is not spiritual to ignore our basic needs. Are you taking care of yourself? Jesus wants you to! What do you need to do to be an inspired person? Do it!
We often neglect self-care to take care of others. But when we do not love ourselves, all we leave others with is the most burnt out version of ourselves, and there is nothing loving about that.
The scriptures for the First Sunday of Advent remind us that God’s promise that all will dwell secure in righteousness and justice have been fulfilled in Christ. St. Paul prays that we will increase and abound in love for one another and for all. We must remember though that Jesus himself has told us that to love others we must first love ourselves. To grow in love we must strengthen our hearts and remain blameless in holiness, conducting ourselves in a manner pleasing to the Lord. Jesus tells us that we must be alert and ready at all times, for tribulations will certainly come. However, God can be trusted to fix the errors, purge the demons and be the one who can REBOOT our lives if we remember to love with a holy heart.