Sacred Space Advent 2023 – Waiting for Jesus
Join us in Sacred Space as we journey together through Advent, praying each day with scripture and in the Presence of the One for whom we are waiting. This is an opportunity to take a few extra minutes in your day to quietly rest in the love of God, and ponder the wonder and mystery of Jesus who comes to us as a small child: totally accessible to all, loving everyone, and showing how completely loveable and approachable our God is, He who has come down to meet us in the poverty and need of our humanity. Advent is a perfect time to renew our faith, hope and love, and to reflect on our relationships: with ourselves, with others and with God, and to focus on what matters most in life. May this simple retreat bless each one of you who prays with it, and remind you that you are part of the Sacred Space family, united in prayer with brothers and sisters all over the world. Let us remember all those suffering most deeply across the planet at this time, especially those in areas of conflict and war, and offer up our prayers for them, particularly, this Advent.
On a practical note…
This retreat will have new prayers and reflections daily, based for the most part on the scriptures of the day, namely the First Reading and the Gospel, according to the Irish liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. Sundays will be slightly more flexible in format.
The retreat can take as little as 3-5 minutes, or 15-20 minutes, or more, depending on how much time you have, and how deeply you want to enter into prayer. If you have the time and inclination, we would encourage you to spend as long as you can with anything that jumps out for you from the reflections or the scriptures themselves, and to stay with those words, and let them settle deeply into your heart, mind and soul. Feel free to use this retreat in whatever way suits you, taking notes or journalling, if that is something you like to do, or staying with just one word or phrase that resonates most strongly with you. You might find you would like to come back to the prayers of a previous day, and stay with that for a few days, or stay with the words or scripture of a particular day and meditate on them for as long as you like and feel you need. If you miss a couple of days, that doesn’t matter. You can either just join in at the point the retreat is currently at, or go back and catch up if you prefer.
The following retreat is loosely based on a past retreat by Donal Neary SJ, published by Messenger Publications. It is no longer in print, but for many other books and materials on Ignatian spirituality and beyond, go to https://www.messenger.ie/
Our journey of waiting…
Advent is the annual season of waiting. We wait for the same reason every year, and we are certain that the One we await – a person, Jesus, the Son of God – will arrive on time. Yet, we find that the waiting is new each year, as Jesus is ever new. Maybe we don’t like the waiting, or maybe we enter enthusiastically into Advent… Maybe we are happy to wait in patience and quiet.
Some wait actively, reminding themselves each day with prayer or reflection as to why they wait. As Pope Francis says in Let Us Dream, our waiting is with the head (thinking about Advent), the heart (feeling with the season) and with the feet (doing something for others each day).
There’s a richness in waiting. I’m impatient, but I find sometimes that when I relax into waiting, something good happens for me. Whether it’s waiting for a bus or a plane, or queueing in a shop, I notice different things about people or even new colours in the sky. I notice how I am in myself, and, like in waiting for sleep, I may make sense of the stresses of the day. Waiting, in many ways, is a good thing for us.
We wait also to notice where and how God is in our lives. This waiting is often compared to the watchman who waits, noticing all that is happening around. He’s elevated on a height to be able to see the world around him. Advent can be our hill or mountain. Each day we see and learn something new about God, ourselves and the world.
This retreat gives a few hints for prayerful reflection on each day’s readings during Advent. Readings from both the Old and New Testaments figure as we attempt to focus our mood and thoughts on the season.
The way we wait affects how we celebrate and enjoy Christmas. The way we wait may grow in us a new realisation that everything about God, and especially God’s Son, is worth our waiting. We wait for the Lord, because his day is near. Thanks be to God!
Please consider filling out our short Advent 2023 Retreat questionnaire to help us improve future retreats.