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Advent Light: The spiritual shadowlands are upon us


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Elizabeth Scalia - published on 12/09/17

A reflection and prayer for December 9, 2017, Day 7 of Advent
And your ears shall hear a word behind you: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

As we try to prepare our hearts for the coming of Emmanu-el, the headlines keep blaring at us, and pulling us out of the desert to which we have been called. Every story, whether political, or social, or religious, seems to have an angle to it that wants to steer us to the left, or to the right.

But we mustn’t allow ourselves to be taken from our path, because our fulfillment does not lie in either direction. It is direct, and forward.

Indeed, to veer from the straight path to Christmas — thus to the truth — is to risk becoming deeply lost in the shadowlands of our old selves. We risk tripping over ancient vines of doubt, nourishing old grudges, and becoming disoriented as we are turned and spun, now this way, now that. Old, old stuff, all of that is, and it is meant to keep us from the One who makes all things new.

It’s not just the headlines, of course. Our jobs require our attention; our children require careful focus; the season overpacks our schedules with social events and family obligations. This path we are trying to walk shows distractions in the distance, but also in the near: left, right, we are pulled, but then, too, there is the looking back, which — in a season of bittersweet memories and wistful carols and genuine loss — is almost impossible to resist.

But we are not alone on the Advent path. Strike a match, light the Advent candle and you can almost hear the voice. It calls from a distance in this first week, these early days, and it urges us forward, toward the Light. We are like modern magi, trying to keep sight of that light through the shadowlands of self, the twisted forests of fear, and the false beams of misdirection.

Stay the path. If you get distracted, you need not become lost. Ask your Guardian Angel to accompany you to Bethlehem, and to keep your focus on the path you must walk to get there.

Dearest Angel, as this first week of Advent draws to a close, I can feel the initial fervor with which I began this journey begin to flag — not because I don’t wish to continue, but because there are so many things reaching out to me, pulling me to the left, and to the right. As I peer in their directions, I lose sight of the Light. I know this is how I can get lost, so please be with me. Train my feet in the way that I should go; take my hand when I am, like a child, pulled by curiosity. Let me hear you say, “This is the way; walk in it.” Amen.

Keep going, keep walking. Come, Lord Jesus!


Aleteia is bringing you reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. Follow the series here.

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