Welcome to Advent 2021.
Have you ever heard about a mental rehearsal? Let me explain it to you.
It was a hot Sunday in June. Millions of Americans were watching the U.S. Golf Open on TV. At the critical point in the game, the camera focused on Jack Nicklaus. He was in the rough and preparing to shoot out.
Slowly and deliberately, he addressed the ball. Then for a full 20 seconds of primetime TV, he stood calm and ready to swing. Suddenly, at the last moment he backed away from the ball and said loud enough for everybody to hear; “That’s the wrong swing.” The sports announcer covering the match was confused and said, “But he didn’t swing! What’s going on here?” A lot was going on. And Nicklaus explains exactly what it was in his book Golf My Way. There he describes how he prepares for every shot he takes. It’s a process called mental rehearsal. This simply means that he plays every shot in his head before he plays it for real.
Nicklaus writes: “It’s like a color movie. First, I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white …on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes and I see the ball going there …and its behavior on landing. Then there’s a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality.”
For Jack it was a mental rehearsal. For us, Christians Advent is a time of spiritual rehearsal. The Church asks us to go through a kind of spiritual rehearsal to prepare for the coming of Christ.
How should we prepare for Christmas?
Come to Mass once a week, read daily reflections, pray rosary – if you cannot recite an entire rosary, maybe one decade would certainly be simpler, read a short passage of the bible every day during this season. How about confession before the Christmas? When was your last confession? It’s a good time to think of that question. The children in the family can suggest this next possibility. Starting this evening, why not say grace before your evening meal and continue this practice throughout Advent? All it takes is one person saying, “Shall we pray now?”
Our loving one another as Jesus loved us would be to find the young people helping do the household chores in thanksgiving for parents who clothe them, feed them, educate them and love them. Maybe, about the 20th of December, it might be a sign of love for Dad to take Mom out for a quiet dinner for two and let her forget about the hectic pace of preparing for the “big day.” And finally, remember there are those who are less fortunate than we. Food, toys, clothing or money donations were things that Jesus could have used in the manger. He’d much prefer we give them to those less fortunate.
The “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” is what we should prepare for. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is fine. The gifts, the shopping, the family gatherings are wonderful. But that’s the “commercial” Christmas.
How am I going to prepare for the “spiritual” Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ?
- You are all invited on Thursday Dec. 2nd, at 7 pm to the Activities Center for the Adult Formation evening for the first Advent gathering with Fr. Pat Brennan who will be our guest speaker helping us to understand the meaning of Advent, and the real preparation for Christmas.
- Come and celebrate with us The Rorate Mass. Each week of Advent 2021 we’ll celebrate this Votive Mass in honor of the Virgin Mary. It has a long tradition in the Catholic Church. Each Mass we will start with a dark church and candles in our hands. The interplay of light and darkness speak to the meaning of Advent and the coming of the Light of the world, Jesus Christ our Lord. The Rorate Mass: Saturday, Dec. 4th, at 9 am; Tuesdays, Dec. 7th, 14th, 21st, at 7 pm. We will provide the candles.
- The first week of Advent (Monday, Nov. 29th – Friday, Dec. 3rd) I am going for my retreat. Together with John the Baptist, one of the patrons of Advent I’m going to DeSales Center, Brooklyn, MI. Please pray for me that it will be a time only between God and me so, I can hear and listen to Him with more open ears and heart. I’ll be praying for all of you and your intentions at the that time as well.
Happy Advent to all of you!