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Advent Series: I. Goal Setting

+ Retreat into Advent: Lamps in the Quiet + O heavenly king, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph forsook their homes on the road to Bethlehem. Teach us to forsake the vanity of this world and retreat to the quiet of the soul. O sweet savior, the shepherds waited in the stillness of the pastures where they listened to angelic chant. Allow us to enter blessed stillness, that we may tune our hearts to your transforming grace. O blessed Lord, the magi lay gold, frankincense, and myrrh at your feet. I pledge to thee the gold of my heart’s love, the incense of my prayers, the myrrh of my willingness to bear my cross. I. Journey Into the Quiet: Goal Setting ❖ What to Expect • 1. Journey Into the Quiet: Goal Setting • 2. Boundaries with Technology A: The Problem • 3. Boundaries with Technology B: The Solution • 4. Prayer, Fasting, and Confession • 5. Holy Anticipation: O Come, O Come Emmanuel ❖ The Virgins’ Lamps: Image of Advent • “The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom…at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming’” (Matthew 25:1,6). ❖ Six Pillars of Advent

• I. Anticipation and Focus III. Technology V. Confession • II. Fasting IV. Prayer & Meditation VI. Almsgiving ❖ 1. Anticipation and Focus A. Yearning in the Quiet

• “The coming of the Lord should ultimately be joy, and this we sing in the Nativity Feast: “Joy to the world the Lord is come.” But to experience this joy we must first recognize that there will be a reckoning, and we must prepare to receive Him so that when He comes, we will not hide in shame. Prepare your hearts therefore with fasting and penitence and with attention and faithfulness, so that your joy may be full at the coming of the Savior. ~ Fr. Patrick Cardine B. Reorienting Your Life to Focal Points

• “I spend so much time running, scurrying, and hasting to no apparent end or purpose. In the heat and pressure of the moment, I do not spare enough thought or attention for discerning choices…[What is needed] is the recovery of a center and a standpoint from which one can tell what matters in the world and what merely clusters it up. A focal concern is that center of orientation” (Borgman 201, 203). • “Once you began to scrutinize yourself under my direction, you saw only disorder; your thoughts, feelings and desires were all in disarray…You have no center…” (St. John of Kronstadt). C. Spiritual Reality Behind Distraction

• “When our soul is outside of grace, its covering is either as gloomy as the darkest night, as when someone indulges his passions and serves them; or it is grey like an obscure fog, as when someone who is not too given over to the passions still lives in vanity. Under the action of grace, however, not only is the soul permeated by grace, but its covering gradually grows brighter, just as gloomy weather gradually clears up” (St. John of Kronstadt 130). ❖ 2. Fasting • Food Requirements (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) - Fasting: (one meal & one collation per day; no food before noon) - Abstinence: no meat or juices thereof - What else? Focus on your unbalanced addictions ❖ 3. Technology

• “One of the most significant challenges of contemporary technology is how it shapes our awareness, where it attracts our attention, and the ways that it sometimes – perhaps even often – draws us away from the things we value most” (Borgman 81). • Transferring energy - 1# - Make a goal (i.e. no more television) - 2# - Focus on the drive/gap inside you when you have replaced technology with silence. - 3# - Tune that energy towards joyful anticipation and quiet meditation ❖ 4. Prayer & Meditation

- Prayer rule (time to re-evaluate with your confessor) - Church services - Meditation (advent readings, etc.) ❖ 5. Confession

- “…As Orthodox Christians, Confession is not an option which we can choose or not choose to do. It is absolutely necessary for our spiritual healing and well-being, and those who think they can go without Confession for long periods of time are setting a trap for themselves that will be evident when they encounter tragedy and loss…”(Metropolitan J.). - “Whoever wants to approach prayer without a guide, and proudly thinks that he can learn from books, and won't go to an elder, is already halfway into delusion. But the Lord helps the humble, and if there is no experienced guide, and he goes to a confessor, whoever he may be, then the Lord will cover him because of his humility” (St. Silouan). ❖ 6. Almsgiving (Acts of Compassion)

- Contemplate the magi who brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. - What can you bring to God in your fellow brothers and sisters?

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