Finding Hope, Finding Myself: Advent Reflections Week 1

advent 1

 

When the end of the year comes around, there’s this desire to reflect on our lives. We think about our successes, our failures, and ways that we can improve in the new year. Each year seems to go by faster. Summer seems like it was just a month ago instead of almost half a year ago. In this holiday rush, I want these reflections to be a time for you and me to reflect.

The Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship is doing a Bible study for Advent that you can subscribe to and read here. The theme of the first week of Advent is Hope with the “Prophet’s Candle.”

During Mass, the Psalm for this Sunday’s readings particularly resonated with me.

Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

I feel like the whole Psalm is a microcosm of the spiritual journey I took this year. My trust in the Lord has changed my life in so many ways. He carried me through bad dates and broken hearts. He led me to people who understood my Asperger’s Syndrome and fellow writers who encouraged me to work on my novel. It was through the intercession of the saints and Christ’s wonderful Divine Mercy that I was able to find forgiveness and take another step forward in the process of letting go of all the things that make me anxious.

As the Year of Mercy begins, my intention is to live out the verse from Galatians. This verse is my hope for this new liturgical year as well as the year of 2016.

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:19-20

Today, I want you to reflect on how you think Christ has changed you and how you think you can live out the verse from Galatians. It’s through Christ that I have hope. My hope for this Advent is that Christ continues to live in me.

Gratitude in Everything

Day17

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

If you ever find yourself at a time when the attitude of gratitude is just not coming to you, come back to these reflections. There is always a time to find gratitude, even after we acknowledge all the negative emotions that come into our lives. As strange as that sounds, we can even be happy during the times we also feel sad or angry or lonely. The happiness I’m talking about isn’t the excited, bounce-around-the-walls kind of happiness a five-year old has. It’s a softer kind, one rooted in hope for better things. It’s not as bright as the sun, but more like the soft glow of a beautiful star or a small fire. Hope comes to you when it doesn’t really make any sense to have it because that’s when you need it most. Through living with gratitude, we cultivate hope, which nurtures our faith and our love.

Read the rest here!

Gratitude in Victory

Day16

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

Whether you’re struggling with a temptation, an addiction, hoping to lose weight or get fit, all of these things are rooted in a sense of self-worth. We can’t fight for others if we don’t value ourselves. I’m not just talking about appreciating the way we look on the outside, but learning how to define yourself. The greatest battle we’ll ever have to fight is the fight over our soul. Once we know how to define ourselves and understand who we are and whose we are, we will accomplish a great victory!

Read the rest here!

Gratitude in Our Losses

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From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

Think of somebody that you’ve lost, either through their death or because time drifted you apart. No matter how far apart we are from the ones that we love, we can be thankful the time that we had with them.

Read the rest here!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Say a prayer for your dearly departed and the souls in Purgatory today!

Gratitude for God's Providence

Day12

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

I love volunteering for Vacation Bible School at my local church. Two of the themes from Vacation Bible School centered on God’s providence. One theme was “Wilderness Escape” in which I taught the kids about the adventures of Moses and the Israelites in the desert. Through teaching the kids about God providing for the Israelites, I reminded myself that God will also provide for my needs. Every day in the week-long Bible School had a catchphrase and Wilderness Escape’s catchphrases ended with “Trust Him!” The VBS I volunteered at the following year had a similar theme. We went from the desert wilderness to the top of Mount Everest. Like the previous Bible Camp, the theme of Everest was to trust in God, this time using the catchphrase “Hold on!”

We are so used to the desire to be in control of our lives. We worry about what we’ll eat, the clothes that we wear, our work, and so many other things. Do we trust in God to provide for us? Do we hold onto him with the faith of a child? It’s not exactly easy!

Read the rest here!

Gratitude in the Darkness

Day11

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

This is not gonna be an easy reflection, sisters in Christ. Gratitude is something that can be found in happy times, in the lessons that we learn from the trials we face, through other people and the things we do for others. The hardest place to find gratitude, however, is when we find ourselves inside a dark pit of lies that tells us that God isn’t with us at all, that he doesn’t exist, and that our lives don’t matter. There are times in our lives where all we can see is a constant darkness and our hearts are burdened with a pain that feels unbearable. We don’t exactly feel sad or angry. In fact, it’s more that our emotions have completely shut down. In other words, we are depressed.

Today’s Psalm captures the despair within the people who have depression and anxiety. If you feel like you’re crying out and the Lord doesn’t seem to be with you at all, know that you are not alone in your despair.

Read more here!

Gratitude in the Desert

Day10

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship

Today’s passages reflect on being thankful for the trials and temptations we endure. The concept of being grateful for the bad things that happen to us and the struggles we deal with is a bizarre concept, I know. God doesn’t tempt us. He doesn’t will our pain or the pain others inflict upon us. Instead, he allows these things to happen to those he loves the most. Jesus, after all, was tempted in the desert for 40 days. We shouldn’t seek out temptation, but instead we should ask God for his protection.

Read the rest here.

 

Gratitude in the Storms

gratitude day 9

 

From Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship:

When life puts us through storms, we often react the way the disciples did in today’s passage: we panic, feeling like this storm is bigger than us. Worse still, we may think that God may not be with us. Fear not, my dearest sisters in Christ, because when we find ourselves in the middle of a storm (literally or metaphorically), God is with us to help us through it and out of it.

Read the rest here!