On Saturday, I attended my Carmelite Community's first Advent Retreat. It was glorious! I joked that I got to accompany the Baby Jesus to that retreat. It was sleeting that morning. I dressed Baby Johnny in his new Teddy Bear snow suit and tucked him into his older sister's pink and grey car seat. There were 85 Catholics at the retreat and he was the only child in attendance. All these strangers stopped in front of John's sleeping face and metaphorically drooled all over him.
I heard three beautiful lectures on my friends St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese of Lisieux. I also got to attend Adoration and go to Confession. Here is a brief "bonus" talk on how to keep Advent calm and holy from one of our Carmelite priests, Father Jack Lombardi.
'The four horsemen of the Advent Apocalypse are Anxiety, Busyness, Consumerism, and Complexity. We need to fight them to have a holy Advent.
To fight Anxiety, meditate on Philippians 4:8-- "Whatever is true... think about these things"
To fight Busyness, meditate on Psalm 46:10--"Be still and know that I am God." Physical stillness and silence in our brain, helps our minds to be still.
To fight Consumerism--meditate on St. John of the Cross' "Nada, Nada, Nada" (Nothing, nothing, nothing in Spanish).
To fight Complexity--seek simplicity
Fight the 4 horsemen of Advent with the 3 S's of Silence, Stillness, and Simplicity."
I love Carmel! Here's a photo of Father Jack. His wide smile always seems to say "You can do this!" to me whenever we meet. I love encouragement, especially in the spiritual life. He gave me brown scapular four years ago with the personal advice "Don't stop praying now!" Of course, what have I done multiple times but give up almost completely on my prayer life because my life is so crazy. Yet I constantly "Begin Again!" Persistence is a trait that needs lots of practice to be learned well.