Celebrating Advent out of our comfort zone

Categories: Editorial

It’s an opportunity to reinvigorate our own spiritual lives and take up Christ’s invitation to ‘take the risk of being more’

The homilies that Pope Francis preaches at his morning Masses in the chapel of his residence often make the news. Earlier this week, he reflected on Christians who are afflicted with what he called a “spirituality of ease.”

What he said, however, made me uneasy. Undoubtedly, that’s the effect he intended for everyone listening to or reading his words.

Here’s how Pope Francis described a spirituality of ease, according to Catholic News Service: “I do things as I can, but I am at peace as long as no one comes to disturb me with strange things. I lack nothing. I go to Mass on Sundays. I pray sometimes. I feel good. I’m in the grace of God. I’m rich. I don’t need anything. I’m fine.”

hand_pray_adventGuilty as charged, I thought. I admit to often feeling that way.

I work hard and try to be a good person. I have a nice home, good family life and, thankfully, don’t worry about where my next meal is coming from. I
go to Mass. I pray. I’m happy with my life most days. I feel comfortable in my relationship with God.

But is this enough when it comes to living a Christian life? Am I too comfortable at times with my life, including my spiritual life?

Open invitation

A spirituality of ease can lead to a “lukewarm” spirit, Pope Francis said. We stop stretching ourselves. We stop challenging ourselves to be better
Christian disciples. We opt for comfort instead of continual conversion.

In the homily at his installation Mass Nov. 18 as the new shepherd of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Archbishop Blase Cupich said Pope Francis often
reminds us that Christ wants his followers to do ever-greater things for love of God and neighbor. “It is an invitation to leave behind the comfort
of going the familiar way,” Archbishop Cupich said. “[Pope Francis] is challenging us to recognize that Christ is always inviting us to more,
to greater things. It is the kind of invitation our bishops’ conference is making to our nation to be what it has always promised to be, to protect the
vulnerable, poor and weak, to treat immigrants with justice and dignity, to respect life and to be good stewards of creation.”

It is, the archbishop said, “the invitation of Jesus: ‘Come, take the risk of being more.’ ”

Getting prepared

The start of the Advent season is just a short time away. It’s a time to prepare for Christ’s arrival, both at Christmas and the end of time. And, it’s an opportunity to reinvigorate our own spiritual lives and take up Christ’s invitation to “take the risk of being more.”

So, this Advent, let’s make a promise to leave our comfort zones and stretch our spiritual lives. Here’s what I suggest: taking a few minutes to read and prayerfully meditate on each day’s Gospel reading. Then, asking ourselves: What is Christ challenging me to do today? And, what will I do to answer that challenge?

This edition of The Visitor features numerous ideas for deepening your Advent experience. You can also receive daily emails from the diocese’s “virtual Advent calendar” at advent.stcdio.org.

Whatever you commit to for the days between the first Sunday of Advent and Christmas, the real challenge will be to continue along the not-always- easy path of discipleship and ongoing conversion once this season of preparation and anticipation is over.

Christ is always calling us to “take the risk of being more.” How will you continue to answer that call?