Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent Ordo

"Tree Cave, by RA Paulette, Feb 2013" 
by Max shred - Canon Digital Camera. 
Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons
Commenter Katherine wondered on my last post how I carve out retreat space within the end of the year chaos.  Probably in much the same way Ra Paulette carves these incredible spaces out of the sandstone caves in the desert. Painfully, slowly and by hand.

This Advent, having decided to try to carve out what retreat time I could within daily life (as my director of the Long Retreat would say - channelling Ignatius, "adapt, adapt, adapt.."), I began by thinking what were the retreat essentials for me.  Besides post-it notes and my own pillow.

They sound obvious.  Prayer, liturgy, confession, sacred reading, good preaching, walks.  Structure, a daily ordo, with a sensitivity to the Spirit's movements.  And solitude. Right.  With a line outside my office.

The caves were a helpful image.  I was not going to be able to construct a cathedral sized retreat over the course of these three weeks, this was going to scratched out of the stone of my calendar, carved with the tools I had to hand, not some precision sandblaster.

Mass and morning prayer are already there, a skeleton on which to hang this retreat time.

So, I picked a book of Advent readings off the shelf (Watch for the Light which includes readings from Alfred Delp SJ, Annie Dillard , Dorothy Day, and Thomas Aquinas).  One a night.

I put as inviolable on the calendar two events:  an evening of Advent lessons and carols, and an Advent vespers service (with a short talk on the women of Advent:  Anna, Elizabeth and Mary).

I did the same with confession.  Yes, it would be lovely to make an appointment to celebrate the sacrament with my long time confessor.  Instead, it would have to be a gray Saturday in a cold, dark church.  Grace wins out , regardless of the space.  Ex opere operato.  Grace wins out, even with a perfunctory confessor (which I hasten to add was not the case!).

Ah...yes, and solitude.  I've been parking further up the hill, necessitating a walk each evening.  I've seen snow fall, pressed into a relentless rain, wondered at stars spangled across the sky and at the deep blues and pinks of these Advent sunsets.  It's five minutes -- and full of grace.

1 comment:

  1. Katherine3:38 PM

    Thank you for sharing this ... a daily ordo is the thing I find most difficult. I hope the chaos has lifted or does soon, and there is more space to breathe in the days between now and Christmas.