My 4th Advent Season

I haven’t blogged in a long time.  Ideas for blog posts have been piling up.  Normally, this isn’t a bad thing.  But, when there’s a huge backlog, inertia keeps me from chipping away at it.  I feel like there’s a formidable mountain of content that I can’t articulate in just a few posts.  So, I don’t even try.  And the ideas keep on piling up.  I blame my inertia on my Netflix addiction, on family visiting, on work.  The truth is… I simply have writer’s block and I wasn’t disciplined enough to keep going.  I didn’t follow through.  Like my prayer life.  I get prayer’s block and don’t feel like praying.  I tell myself that I’ll pray when I feel like it, but a month — half a year goes by, and then I find myself lost in a spiritual desert.

Fortunately, I have people praying for me; so, half a year hasn’t gone by since my last post.  The men’s small group that I attend every week was aware of this problem and I asked for their prayers.  I’m writing this now partly because the Holy Spirit is working through them.  I also went to Confession two weeks ago.  That helped clean off the dirty rags that have been clinging to my soul.  I must credit the small group, too, for the grace to seek the Sacrament of Confession.  We’ve been reading Richard Foster’s, “Celebration of Discipline.”  The homework assignment that week was the spiritual discipline of confession.

I wish I could claim that I was a saint during my absence from blogging, but I would be lying.  Personal sin notwithstanding, I still managed to make progress in my spiritual life.  I enlisted my wife to help me develop the Virtue of Temperance.  Even though I could kick my Netflix addiction cold-turkey for Lent, I found it nearly impossible to stop watching after just one or two episodes.  So, now, I need to ask my wife for permission every time I want to watch a show on Netflix.  Hey, if it works for my daughters, it’ll work for me.

Thanks be to God, my prayer life bore fruit: a couple is on their way healing from infidelity, a young woman who got in a horrible car crashed came out unscathed, another young woman finds a good prospect for a husband, a Novena of rosary prayers for St. Therese to intercede for a couple trying to conceive, and then 30-days of rosary prayer for that same couple.  I’m coming up to one year of partial fasting for couples who are trying to conceive.  As a matter of fact, many couples on that list either had their child or are now expecting.  I need to update that post, but these answered prayers are powerful evidence for me that prayer works.  They motivate me to make prayer a more regular part of spiritual journey and, like Foster said in his book, to experiment with different ways of praying to see what’s effective.

One of the things I love about the liturgical season is that it always repeats itself.  So, if I screwed up last time, I get a chance to observe it more faithfully this time.  This will be my fourth Advent season.  Will I be overtaken by consumerism?  Or, will I cultivate hopeful expectation for the Incarnation of Our Lord?  These next few weeks would be a good time to reflect on the importance of this season for the Catholic Church.  I should try to discover what my mother, the Church, is trying to teach me by repeating this season every year.

It’s easy to remember how many years I’ve been a Catholic because I converted the same year I got married.  Just like my marriage, I can’t believe I’ve been a Catholic for just four years; it feels like 40 years!  And, I don’t mean that in a bad way.  I have difficulty remembering what it was like to be an atheist just like I have difficulty remembering what it was like to be a bachelor.  I also don’t want to return to either of them.  I’m so young in the faith… I have so much to learn.  How wonderful it is for my daughters to grow up in the faith!  They will have a father and a mother who will nurture them in the richness of the Catholic faith.  There are tiger moms who wish to teach their children all sorts of earthly skills.  I’m a Catholic tiger dad who wishes to teach my children all sorts of heavenly skills.  A part of me wishes I had parents who could’ve raise me this way.  Then again, that would be ungrateful to the story that God and I have written about my life, so far.  I may have had imperfect parents when it comes to faith, but I now have Our Father in Heaven and Our Holy Mother Church here on earth.  My infancy in the faith should mark my humility when discussing matters of faith with others.

So, it’s my fourth Advent.  Just like it’s my fourth year of marriage.  I’ve fallen away from blogging, but this is a good season to come back.  My wife was right: I need this… a channel to express how much I love God.  Sometimes I think I’m bursting at the seams with nowhere to shout: How. Much. I. Love. God.  This Twitter post will have to substitute for my reflection on the First Week of Advent.  I hope to write an actual reflection for the second week, instead of plagiarizing Archbishop Sheen.  If you’re reading this, pray for me.  God bless you.

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