Give a few moments to letting the inner self find some quiet
As you begin this time of reflection close your eyes in order to give a few moments to letting the inner self find some quiet. You are here to receive some new light on your life. Ask to be able to get in touch with your deeper desires. Lord Jesus, you said that you are the light of the world and our “way, truth and life”. Grant me to discover how to journey with you in this Advent time towards newness of light, towards you.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’
Our advent journey of prayer is one way of being faithful to the light that calls us
- In the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel we are told that they had “seen his star in the East and had come to worship” a new-born king. Therefore their journey began with a moment of wonder. They may have been astronomers or astrologists, who saw plenty of stars but this one seemed different.
- They interpreted it as a sign of special newness, which caused them to set out on a long search. In other words this story begins with a new light shining and awakening their desire.
- What star, so to speak, stirs your desire this year? What new light invites you out of yourself? Our advent journey of prayer is one way of being faithful to the light that calls us. In fact this story begins with a call, a light from beyond ourselves. First, we need to pause and recognise that light. Then we need courage to let it awaken our desire. And thirdly, that desire may lead to movement, to a movement of fidelity to the light.
- The interaction between light and desire and movement is central to the Magi story and also for our faith and our prayer. Try to make this concrete in your own situation now. Can you recognise and name the light that seems to beckon you? Can you get in touch with your deepest desire in this moment of your life? What movement or inner direction does this Advent season suggest to you? In the gospel the Magi story tells of a movement towards the discovery of Christ, a journey of fidelity to the light, marked also by times of darkness and danger.
- C. S. Lewis once wrote that the instrument through which you recognize God is your whole self. A telescope has to be clean to do its job. If it is not, the stars will be blurred. So a certain disposition is needed to discover the light that calls you. Be patient with yourself as you try to pray. It may take time for the dust and the distractions to settle. Perhaps many people saw that star, but only the Magi had the receptivity and openness to recognise it as a special call.
Talk to God
Pray honestly over what is lacking in your life right now and let it become a positive quest
- Psalm 63 gives an eloquent expression of this longing: “For you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry weary land without water”. Perhaps this desire is born from a sense of absence. You may like to reflect on what is lacking in your life right now and let it become a positive quest – like those Magi setting out on a strange journey. The Spirit is leading you and promising you that your “spirit will be filled as at a banquet”. Your initial fragility can become joyful discovery, as in the story of the Magi.
- Saint Ignatius was surprisingly insistent that towards the beginning of a period of prayer one should ask for a definite grace. So journeying through this retreat, what are we seeking? Perhaps it could be in the words of Saint Ignatius to ask for inner knowledge of the Lord so that we may know and follow Him. To trust that the Lord calls us to search for him this advent, and that his promise can become true for us during this time of reflection.
- Perhaps something has struck you particularly, and this is an excellent starting point for reflection. Stay with it and make it personal, but don’t forget to put yourself first of all in the presence of God. Take your time: there is no hurry. Notice what hope or desire moves you.