5 Ways to Jump-Start and Nourish Your Faith This Advent
5 Ways to Jump-Start Your Faith This Advent
Is your faith feeling a bit . . . stale? Has it been awhile since you’ve connected with God? Consider a jumpstart!
- Be intentional about paying attention! Consider and become aware of what pops up in your day. How might God be getting your attention? What affirmations, blessings, graces come into your day? What inner nudging, or movement, is the Spirit within initiating? Here are some ways God may get your attention:
- A student says something to you that soothes your soul or provides the direction you need, as if they know your situation
- A cool breeze rustles the leaves along your walk
- A kindness shown to you that was unexpected
- An opportunity presents itself to respond or to help one another
- Any one of the fruits of the Spirit that show up in the moments of your day, in each situation: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- Be grateful! Start your day by identifying 3 things for which you are grateful and share that with God in prayer. Lather, rinse, and repeat at day’s end! Do this for each day of Advent, committing to an Advent calendar of gratefulness.
- Review and reflect on your day. Take 10 before sleep! Follow this simple process each night. This is a version of the five-step Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced:
- Become aware that you are in the presence of God.
Ask God to accompany with you in a reflective walk through your day.
- Review the day with gratitude. For what are you thankful?
What did you receive? What did you give?
- Pay attention to your emotions. What did you feel today?
St. Ignatius reminds us that our emotions help us to detect the presence of God. What might God be trying to tell you through your emotions? What might God be asking you to do because of what you’ve felt? God may show you ways you fell short. Where is forgiveness needed How might you choose to grow?
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
Pay close attention to what bubbles up.
Is there an area in your life or a relationship that need attention?
Is there a situation at work, within your family, or within yourself that could use some care?
Ask God for the grace to respond to it in love and commit to a plan.
Allow for a free-flowing prayer—whatever bubbles up—of praise or gratitude, bringing another’s needs before God, or asking for forgiveness and the grace to do and be better.
- Look forward to tomorrow. Ask for what you need.
How are you feeling about tomorrow? Talk with God openly and honestly. Don’t hold back. Ask God to light your way, giving you understanding and hope!
- Become aware that you are in the presence of God.
- Select a moment of your day and commit to living it by seeing through the eyes of Christ, loving through the heart of Christ, responding through the hands of Christ. St. Theresa of Avila reminds us that, “Christ has no body, now, but yours.” Make room in your life to reflect and do God’s work by forgiving and loving. God depends on each of us, to whom his Spirit has been given, and within whom the Spirit lives. Start small. Maybe it’s while you’re getting things (and littles) ready to go in the morning or for bed in the evening, or while out getting groceries or running errands, when you connect with your spouse during the day, or during a meeting. It’s during some time for yourself.
- Allow yourself to enter the experience of prayer – with your whole self – whenever you pray, whether that’s at the start of the day, during mealtimes, in your own personal prayer time, or at Mass. How do you do that? Take all your worries, hurt, joys, hope, broken relationships, gratitude, anger and pray with and through it. Find good posture for prayer. Feel yourself in that posture. Sing. Pray aloud. Pray within. Surrender it all to God and pay attention to how God responds! God gives his whole self for us in Jesus. Let us give our whole selves back, in gratitude and love.
BONUS STEP: Plug into a community of faith: Your parish, a group of parents, or friends who value and nourish their faith. None of us can walk this journey alone. God gives us many people to accompany us on our journeys. Don’t isolate. Plug in!
5 Ways to Nourish Your Faith This Advent
Got a good thing going? Here are some ideas for keeping it alive!
- Try a different form of prayer. Expand your experiences of the many ways you can connect with God and deepen your relationship. Some ideas that you can easily Google for “how to” include:
- Praying with Nature (Franciscan)
- Praying with Scripture: Lectio Divina or Ignatian Contemplation (Ignatian)
- Praying with Tradition and Devotion: The Rosary, the Act of Contrition, the Prayer of St. Francis, St. Patrick’s Breastplate, a novena, the Stations of the Cross
- Praying Contemplatively: Meditation, using a mantra (a repeated word or phrase of faith), “Give up. Lay down before God and cry out” (The Cloud of Unknowing), using a labyrinth
- Praying with Ritual: A blessing prayer using holy water; using candles and flame, prayer stones, venerating the cross, creating a prayer table or space and using those items to help you pray
- Praying with Art: Use iconography or artwork based on faith
- Praying through the Sacraments: daily Mass, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick (when appropriate), participating at a Baptism and reflecting on how you live out your Baptismal call, recalling your Confirmation and the gifts of the Spirit that have and continue to support and empower you in your life.
- Do some spiritual reading. Pick up a book about faith or join, or form, a spiritual reading book club.
- Participate in faith sharing. Many parishes offer different types of small group faith sharing programs, especially during the liturgical seasons, or gather a group to share faith for a designated timeframe, using an appropriate aid.
- Commit to making a spiritual retreat, whether at a local retreat center, one that is away, or online.
- Participate in your parish! Get involved in the liturgical ministries, serve on a committee, offer to help at the parish fair or supper, become a catechist or help with Vacation Bible School, participate in a parish mission or adult faith formation offerings, offer to reach out to other parishioners during social distancing with a phone call or gather a group over a video call once-a-week – consider your own gifts/talents/skills and plug in or share your idea of something new with the parish staff!
BONUS STEP: Intentionally accompany another in their faith journey. Mentor a young person or accompany another family. Invite, invite, invite to engage others in their faith and within the faith community.-