Icicle lights, Dorothy Day, and what Advent has to offer
As soon as the leftover Thanksgiving turkey is sealed in its Tupperware and placed in the refrigerator, I can typically be found climbing a ladder in the garage, bringing boxes marked “Christmas Decorations” down from the rafters.
As the sun sets on the Thursday holiday, our home is one of the first on the street to be illuminated by the now-out-of-style non-LED icicle lights, a few bulbs burned out here and there (for style, of course).
At this point, most readers are probably double-checking the cover to make sure this is Catholic Digest and not some secular periodical they accidentally picked up. After all, doesn’t everyone know Advent is meant to be a season of silent preparation and not a monthlong party in honor of the Lord’s birth?!
Yes, my friends, I realize I’m part of the problem here.
It’s not easy, publicly confessing one’s sin of getting into the spirit too early, and yet here I am, bravely sharing my vices with you.
While I know in my head Advent is a season meant for preparation, confession, and silent waiting, my heart wants to enjoy the festive season the whole way through! Having young children has only doubled down on my heart’s ability to win out over my head year in and year out.
Little did I know, my burgeoning fascination with Servant of God Dorothy Day would be the thing to lead me toward correcting my approach to the very season I’ve happily skipped over for as long as I can remember.
Most know Dorothy as the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, a woman on her way to sainthood thanks to her love of the poor, her radical ability to see the face of Christ in those around her, and her willingness to live the Beatitudes in a way most of us only dream of.
At 30 years of age, she converted to the Catholic faith and was willing to put it all on the line for Christ from there on out.
And she understood the purpose and aim of Advent.
Each year, Dorothy wrote an Advent reflection for the Catholic Worker newspaper, and her thoughts from a 1948 edition have stuck with me as I approach this season I have ignored time and time again.
“Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence. Waiting for our Lord to be born,” she shared in her reflection. “A pregnant woman is so happy, so content. She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her. All speech and reasoning, all eloquence and science, all methods and all psychologies, all slogans and suggestions are not worth a minute of silence in which the soul, completely open, yields itself to the embrace of the Spirit.”
In today’s world, silence may be the key to unlocking our relationship with God, especially during the season of Advent. We are so distracted by the unceasing notifications dinging forth from our glowing screens that we barely have any time left at all for quiet contemplation.
What does God want from me? What is his will in my life? What choice does he want me to make?
Without silence, none of these questions feel adequately answered.
This is what Advent has to offer.
Silence may be the key to unlocking our relationship with God.
Finding time for silence in today’s nonstop world is a sure path to holiness.
Finding time for silence during this season of weekly parties, Secret Santa, and Christmas music streaming from our car speakers as soon as the Halloween costumes are put away is a guaranteed saint-making proposition.
So, the challenge for me (and for all of you who are like me) is to work hard to incorporate daily silent reflection in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Silent moments spent in the Adoration Chapel. Silent moments spent on the commute to and from work. Silent moments found in the time after the kids fall asleep but before the youngest one climbs into your bed.
It’s in those silent moments that Baby Jesus is waiting for us to welcome him.
This year, let’s make the decision to meet him there.