Advent II – By JD Ferries-Rowe

After a decade at Brebeuf Jesuit, I am still sometimes struck by how much a Jesuit idea or way of thinking (we call them “Charisms”) can reveal itself in the strangest places. The idea that I have been reflecting on the most as we approach the Christmas holiday…particularly as I think about what it means to get ready for Christmas…is the idea of the counter-cultural response.

When the Jesuits were formed, St. Ignatius did not want a cloistered monastery. He wanted priests who would be active in the affairs of the world, providing an example and occasionally guidance to a world that sometimes struggles with focusing on God. Thus, the Jesuits needed to be the counter-cultural response…living in the world, living with the people, but always pointing out when the cultural norms of the day became a stumbling block for people seeking God or trying to make the world a more just place for everyone.

That brings me to Advent.

As I was working with a diverse group of 2nd to 6th grade communion students this past Sunday, it was fun to listen to the excitement as they imagined what presents they would receive, to hear about travel plans to visit families, and to watch them share with the class particular family traditions that held a particular meaning. It was a joy…but it was also a little exhausting

We live in a world that places demands on people. We are asked to be ON all the time — we must be consumers of products, consumers of information, consumers of entertainment. I think this came to a peak this past year when people were asked by the powers-that-be to give up the family time reserved for Thanksgiving in order to take advantage of the bargain-fueled frenzy that was Black Friday (DOORS OPEN 8:00 P.M. ON THANKSGIVING!).

Advent is a time during the year to clear our spiritual plate. For Christians, it is a time of the year for quiet and reflection and anticipation — hearkening back to 2000 years ago and a people waiting for a miracle that has been promised but not yet arrived. But for all of us in a world that buzzes, beeps and demands our attention be focused on what is NOW and what is NEXT, Advent can serve as a time…to pause.

A time to put away the phone and the computer and the tablet…

A time to stop crushing candy and updating statuses…

A time to turn off the TV and light the candles or the tree…

A time to take stock of our blessings, to pray our thanks…

A time to be with family for more than a quick check-in before going in different directions…

Of course there will be the ripping of paper on Christmas morning, and family time complete with awkward kisses from distant relatives, and emails that have to be answered “just for a second.”

But sometimes, in pursuit of finding God’s will for our lives, we have to think counter-culturally.

Advent is a time of quiet and anticipation. And if that is not counter-cultural, what is?

JD Ferries-Rowe

One comment on “Advent II – By JD Ferries-Rowe

  1. Jphn Troll on said:

    Mr. Ferries Rowe:
    Thank you for your interesting and thoughtful observations. These tired eyes opened wide when they read the phrase counter-cultural response. You have gently awakened my Christmas spirit.

    Again, thank you.

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