Advent Mindfulness

Scripture      Matt 24:37-44


Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know on what day

your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house

had known in what part of the night the thief was coming,

he would have stayed awake and

would not have let his house be broken into.

Therefore you must be ready, for the Son of Man

is coming at an unexpected hour.



ADVENT is a wonderful time to sharpen our wakefulness… “Stay awake! For you do not know on what day your Lord is coming! You must be ready.” It seems that this vigilance is at the heart of the matter. The imperative is - have your ‘house’ in order at all times -  for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. The preparation is now…  this day … it is learning how to live centered, grounded, rooted in Christ, as our NOW existence. 


Today’s Gospel speaks of the days of Noah and how many were engaged in the ‘eat drink and be merry’ philosophy of life and were not spiritually ready to see or hear the coming of God. They missed the moment of grace and the call to a more intimate friendship with God. The Gospel sharpens for us how Noah and his family lived in readiness, awake and expectant. They were listening and responding in the moment  to the voice of God that outlined in baby steps … first, start building an ark, and then, enter the ark, and then,  gather in the animals and birds two by two  … and only then, did the floods come and sweep them all away. It was their mindfulness and humble obedience to that still small voice of God that has made Noah such an exemplar model of staying awake and mindful in every present moment.      


Spiritual masters within all traditions have stressed the essential discipline of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a conscious awareness and attentiveness to the reality of the present moment. The practice of mindfulness builds up concentration and creates peacefulness within. Mindfulness enables us to master and restore ourselves from the busyness, distraction and dissipation. It is like a ‘bell sounding’ that calls us back to ourselves, allowing our mind and heart to simply attend to the present moment. Mindfulness frees us to live each moment fully. It leads to a life of awareness in great peace and contentment…even amidst life’s chaos and challenges.  


To be spiritually ‘awake’ means we must be mindful 24 hours of every day. It is not just in meditation!  Since mindfulness means keeping one’s consciousness alive to the present reality, one must keep faithful in this practice right now, every day, all day, in our daily life just as it is! Some of you might be wondering if this is really possible when one’s work and family life requires alertness and many demands. Here’s our answer. Yes, simply keep your attention focused on the work, be alert and ready to handle ably and intelligently any situation which may arise. This is mindfulness! During the moment you are typing, consulting, baking, keep a calm heart and self-control…and you will obtain good results. Every act is a ‘rite’ - washing your hands, doing the dishes, talking with friends. While you are performing one action, be all there, fully present in it. Do not be thinking about the past or going ahead even to the next hour’s activities. The ‘now’ moment is sacred. That is where God is and we can abide in this indwelling presence by a conscious practice of this simple mindfulness.


Contemplate this wisdom saying of Father Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ on mindfulness: 

“Give your full attention to the actions you perform.

One action done well is worth a thousand done half-heartedly.”   

Maxim of Perfection 14.4, Jean-Pierre Medaille SJ


Read and re-read this maxim slowly and calmly. Consider its meaning, penetrate its depth. Internalize its meaning for you, personally. How am I living this mindfulness” now? How do I desire to practice it in the future? Externalize this maxim.  How am I being drawn to live this mindfulness more fully in my present life circumstances? Spend some time in quiet prayer, listening to the Spirit-within you who will enlighten your mind and heart, teach you wisdom, and move YOU to live this gift of mindfulness. 


This “gift of mindfulness” is a participation in the life of the Triune God – who lives in an Eternal Now. “The kingdom of God is already within you.” We already share an indwelling in the life of God. Heaven is a state of knowingly and lovingly experiencing a share in the Trinitarian family life. In the practice of mindfulness we can grow in ever-increasing awareness of this reality already existing. Our “heaven” begins in the here and now. Its fullness is yet to be realized. Mindfulness is a gift of enjoying in our present “now” the uncreated energies of God’s love. “Think of the love that has been lavished upon us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are…So we can call out “Abba”…(daddy) And we shall be like him because we shall see Him as He really is.”  (1 John 3:1-2)


Let us spend some time in quiet reflection upon this mystery of the “already” and the “not yet.” We are in a process of evolving into our resurrected life in God. “What we are to become has not yet been revealed.”   We can live in this mystery more consciously by frequently recalling the grace of our baptism; by committing ourselves with a new intensity to the MINDFULNESS practice; by yielding in gentle surrender to the everlasting “Now” of the love of God always present to us.


This ADVENT as we go about our daily home and work routines, along with the extra shopping and writing greeting cards, attending  parties and visiting family, let us make this a heightened experience of wakefulness and living in readiness. Let us be mindful to use our time well. Be recollected in God and do everything in mindfulness. Live in peace and inner tranquility. Show this by acting without rush or too great an eagerness.  Do not be involved in too many things at once. If you have numerous things to attend to, never be eager to finish some so that you can go on to others. An old wisdom saying has it that: The mind tries too hard, wears itself out, and ends up weak and sloppy. Such a mind, even if of high intelligence is inefficient. It goes here and there, backwards and forwards, and fails to concentrate on what it’s doing at the present moment.  It drives down the road in a fast-moving car and thinks it’s at the store going over the grocery list.  Then it wonders why accidents occur.


You might like to begin YOUR ADVENT by ...celebrating a full day of mindfulness. At the moment of rising, be mindful. Nourish your mindfulness throughout all the movements of bathing, dressing, eating.  Every act is a “rite”, done calmly and gently, with love.  Do your tasks in mindfulness; take a leisurely walk in conscious awareness; prepare a meal, drink your tea, do all your actions without haste, in an evenness of spirit and with reverence.  Sit in meditation in the evening.  Walk in the night air.  Return to your room and fall sleep in mindfulness.


Here’s a sudden ‘God-moment’ happening in a shopping mall … Are you awake? … Are you in readiness for this coming of God in our 2010 marketplace? How are you being moved?

Watch this meditation ...



Carrying Grace       Gracious, Timeless God, transform through our mindfulness, the ordinary into the extra-ordinary. 



#3 mdickinson 2010-12-04 02:34
As we reflect upon Advent as a time of transformation in our own lives, I wanted to share with you the following prayer from Walter Brueggemann:
"In our secret yearnings we wait for your coming, and in our grinding despair we doubt that you will. And in this privileged place we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than we do and by those who despair more deeply than do we. Look upon your church and its pastors [leaders] in this season of hope which runs so quickly to fatigue and this season of yearning which becomes so easily quarrelsome. Give us the grace and the impatience to wait for your coming from the bottom of our toes, to the edges of our finger tips. We do not want our several worlds to end. Come in your power and come in your weakness in any case and make all things new. Amen.
#2 arletteh 2010-12-01 13:54
Thank you for the idea of a whole day of "mindfulness"! It's a great discipline and a wonderful way to get in touch with God and oneself, and all around in a peaceful way! For me,it helps to work on my hurriedness,to slow me down, not just on the day ,but the discipline kind of settles in one's spirit, so it's there when called upon!I will have another day soon ! The beauty also is that we can do our ordinary daily work with mindfulness and not have to go off in prayer to be "recollected", mindful.
#1 arletteh 2010-11-28 18:35
I have been fascinated by the thought that keeps coming back to me at this Advent time of the year: that living the present moment fully,and death are mysteriously connected. To live in the present moment, I must die to myself : my distractions, my fears, my plans, my merely rational ideas, my hurriedness, my judgements, and concentrate entirely on the situation , the task at hand, the person with me. In other words, I must surrender! Just imagine the billons of little “deaths” to one’s more shallow self that one thus undergoes in one’s lifetime, and one’s readiness for the final letting go at death! No there would be no thief could rob us of our true selves in the end! Years ago, I was jubilant at the discovery that there was a simple “formula” to all of life:the Paschal Mystery: the dying of life, as it is lived, and the rising of a deeper, truer Life .And all this being held in Christ, who has already won the victory for us all!

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