One of my favorite books growing up was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. I read that book so often in middle school and high school that I made notes in the margins and the pages are stained from the book getting mixed up with a jello I packed for lunch. In the introduction, Sean lists the first three habits as being a “private victory,” illustrated as the roots of a tall, strong tree. The next three habits were categorized as a”public victory,” illustrated as the trunk and branches of the tree. Finally, the last habit emphasized renewal, shown by a sun and a rain cloud nourishing the tree. In another chapter, Covey quotes the following poem inscribed on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey:
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change –
So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,
And who knows, I might have even changed the world.
Change starts from the inside and eventually manifests into exterior changes. This applies to Advent as well. While we prepare our houses for Christmas by rearranging the furniture and putting up decorations, let us also redecorate the temples of our souls.
A great way to start is with the daily readings. Audrey Assad gives a testimony to the impact of the daily readings from Mass in this video from Redeemed Online:
If you want to find meditations that go along with the daily Mass readings, check out Blessed is She or subscribe to Magnificat. My mom was lucky enough to find a series of devotionals called Conversations with Jesus at our local used bookstore.