We have our Advent wreath in commission, which is good for me—that extra week between Thanksgiving and Advent helped. We're still working on building our Advent chain. Simcha Fisher writes about Advent being a simple time. I think I needed that permission to be a little small and sparse.
Here are some other things that I've been pondering. They may or may not be apropos of Advent, but they are worthwhile food for thought.
I keep coming back to this piece by the Anchoress about the clarification afforded by the election:
Now, with this election over, and the writing on the wall, I believe it is time to divest myself of my too-enthralled-attention to politics, which just a glance at Drudge will tell you is all-illusions, and has been for a very long time. I’m done giving attention and credence to the princes of the air, and the daily theater. I’m setting my attention and my eyes where they must go to prepare for what is coming; what I am feeling called to at this point has nothing at all to do with politics and everything to do with helping to prepare and mature our spirits for what lies ahead.
People of faith, take a good hard look at the new landscape and do not be afraid; do NOT be afraid.
Changes are going to come, and they’re going to come quickly, so now is the time to work on strengthening the atrophied muscles of our spiritual lives — to make them stronger and healthier through the exercises of prayer, fasting, lectio and service and by divesting ourselves of the world and all of its things, its glamor its empty promises.
And she's sticking to it:
This is bringing up some interesting conversation in my social media timelines, particularly among Christians who are wondering how a balance may be struck between the spiritual (which is reality) and the political (which is so much illusion) and what denotes the line between reasonable political engagement and political junkie-ism, which can be defined as an excess of reliance on (and belief in) political solutionism, and is very often half-rooted in idolatry. There is a challenge of balance, for people of faith: political engagement is a good and necessary thing, but too often our fervent engagement leads to excess, and then to defect as we lose perspective as to what is the reality of Christ versus the illusion of both political reach and the “saviors” who we invest with power, and then entrust to “bring things about.” Once that perspective is skewed, we are out of balance, and the best of our energies ends up being spent on the wrong thing. Misplaced.
Somewhere between reasonable political engagement and the political junkie-ism that foments idols and false messiahs there is a balance; when we move away from it, we move, necessarily, away from where Christ tells us to be; we venture too near the secular-solution-seeking Judas.
On that note, Tony Rossi gives us a reminder to reject anxiety and keep your eyes on the sphere where God has put you.
Here's something that hits home, from CatholicMom.com about why kids don't stay Catholic.
My wife just read a book called Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. The premise is greatness doesn’t lie in natural talent or abilities. It’s the same message as Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. Greatness in some sport/job/skill, etc. is more about practice than natural ability. Gladwell says you need “10,000 hours” of practice to become an expert. The greats always practice more than anyone else. That’s what makes them great.
Parents, your kids won’t stay Catholic because you don’t encourage them to practice!
Let’s start thinking of religious formation as a critical life-skill. How do our kids get these skills? They must practice! They must put in their 10,000 hours! And, they must start young.
Will they always like it? No! But they don’t always know what they need. They’ll want to skip religious education or youth group because they’re tired or because there friends aren’t there. They need to go!
It's so easy for me to think that, since I'm up to my elbows in the effects of living the faith—openness to life, homeschooling to preserve a Catholic worldview—we're sufficiently passing it on to our children. But I know it isn't automatic.
Here's an incredibly moving but frank piece by the inimitable Elizabeth Foss. She reminds me that time is a resource, as much as any talent, that our master will call us to account for.
On the morning of Sarah's birthday this year, I found myself at Starbucks. The line was ridiculously long. As I stood in line, I noticed a baby in a carseat carrier on the floor by an overstuffed chair. She had a bottle propped in front of her. And she was wearing a pumpkin hat. Her mother sat in the chair, busily tapping away on her iPhone and when the baby fussed, she rocked her with her foot. I left the cafe crying.
I'm sure it was lack of sleep, emotion from the days before, and good old anniversary reaction, but that baby in the hat rocked me to my core.
There are lots of ways to be the mother with the iPhone. I don't need an infant to make that mistake. I can make it daily with even nearly-grown children. I tried to explain this whole train of thought to my husband. I bumbled along and then concluded with, "What if I only have another fiteen years with Sarah? I don't want to spend those years living inside a screen, distracted, disconnected, and offering her just a random push with my toes now and then."
And he said, "I doesn't matter if you have fifteen years or fifty years, if you don't offer her everything now, you won't have this chance again."
Read it all.
This really is a wonderful time. My daughter brought home a small Advent wreath of her own, complete with liturgical resolutions for each week. I have my Advent playlist ready. And if I can keep from being a humbug purist and spoiling the spirit of the good-willed but liturgically incorrect souls around me, I'll consider that a win!
My apologies to any Reader readers, to whom this post may have appeared in varying partial stages. It was a combination of time crunch, and trying to edit on multiple devices and with multiple children "helping"!