Advent/Liturgical Seasons/My Faith/Teen Faith The One Thing I’m Doing This Advent by Emily Pellarin Advent is here! Advent is here! You know what that means… Or maybe you’re like me and you don’t really know what that means. “It’s like Lent, sort of. But we don’t eat fish on Fridays…and it’s not 40 days.” “And it’s like a countdown to Christmas. There are advent calendars with chocolate inside of them that my mom always gets me…so that’s one good thing about Advent.” “Something about waiting…that sound’s right.” “I guess I should pray more until Christmas.” Every year, these are the thoughts that run through my head about this liturgical season. Until this year. And Pope Francis. Something that he has been saying for a while, finally clicked for me this year. In all of his addresses, he talks a lot about “encounter.” To encounter people seems to be more than just acknowledging people passing by. It’s something bigger than just waving at people or smiling at them… When I think about encountering people, I think of meeting up in a coffee shop or a ball game. Just being present with that person, drinking spiced lattes or watching a game together. It’s about occupying the same space. In the beginning of Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis’ first full encyclical, he said: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.” And it made me think about all the times in my day when I don’t leave space to let God into my day. I wake up in the morning and I check my phone. I show up a couple minutes early for a meeting and I check my phone. I get in my car and plug the aux cord into my phone. I’m waiting for my friends to show up at Chipotle and I…you guessed it…pull out my phone. It’s not that my phone is bad or anything. It keeps me connected to my family and friends. I keep up with emails on my phone. I even use some apps to pray and read the Bible. But if I’m honest with myself, most of the time I use my phone to fill the void in the pockets of unscheduled time throughout the day. Instead of just sitting in the silence for a minute or two, I check twitter, and instagram, and Snapchat. Again, they aren’t bad apps, but I think I’ve lost what Pope Francis talked about: an openness to letting God encounter me in these little moments. Christmas is all about welcoming Jesus into the world. I want to use my Advent leaving space and silence to welcome Jesus into my day. So that’s what I’m doing for Advent this year. When I find myself reaching for my phone in those little pockets of time throughout my day, I am going to but my phone back and sit in the silence and give God the opportunity to encounter me. So as you walk into Advent this year, think about how you can make room to let the Lord encounter you. Maybe it’s joining me in the phone challenge. Maybe it’s taking some time each day to read the Bible or Life Teen’s Advent companion (link here) or maybe it’s something completely different. But let’s take Pope Francis up on his invitation and use this Advent to encounter Jesus and let Him encounter us.