One of the skills that new teachers have to learn is how to redirect a misbehaving student to the appropriate behavior by stating what the student should be doing. Often, novice teachers think it is enough to tell the drowsing student, “Please lift your head off your desk,” without realizing the importance of continuing with “and sit up, with your eyes facing the smart board.” This season of Advent that we are embarking on today is one devoted to redirecting us from drowsiness to standing erect and raising our heads; that is, to paying attention. During these weeks we’re invited to be more attentive to how God’s grace is active and alive in the world and in our lives, to take notice of even the most mundane signs that tell us our redemption is at hand.

—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. is Professor of Education at John Carroll University, University Heights, OH,  and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.