As I type this, there is a little pit in my stomach. Why? I have not even begun any Christmas errands, done any shopping or even attempted to coordinate my schedule with all the visits, activities, and things I need and want to accomplish before His birthday. I want to practice what I preach and follow the advice I gave to an individual who spoke to me about their “holiday stress” of buying presents, arranging travels and above all, her compulsive need to make everyone happy and satisfied while ‘keeping the peace’. I suggested some practical spiritual preparation (I got from an OFM Cap) and an attitude that may lead the Christmas ‘experience’ to a higher ‘spiritual’ meaning?
First, we need to remember Who it is we celebrate and why we celebrate the Birth of Jesus. Jesus is ‘The Present’ from God. He is the Word of God whose Gospel is truly the Good News. We know this is true! We simply have to keep it in the forefront as the craziness tries to steal our joy. So before next week:
- Choose the Christmas Mass in our cluster that is the best time for you and will give you the holiest experience. Give yourself and your family ‘plenty of time’ to get ready, get to Church, and to attend the Mass without hurry.
- Read the Christmas Story to your children one more time before you come to Mass. Sit down as a family in the quiet of your living room and then ask the Lord to again come to your home with his Peace and Joy. If possible, fathers should read this story. Why? Because he is the ‘Joseph’ figure and needs to lead the family to Bethlehem-first to the Church and then back home. (No children? Adults only! Read the Gospel for yourself, but pray for the same things.)
- Come dressed in your best, no matter what Mass you attend. It is Christmas! And even though Jesus doesn’t care what you wear, you will feel better about yourself. It will truly feel like an even more special experience.
- Come, not to be entertained, but to receive a gift from God (the gift of God’s Word, the gift of himself in the Eucharist, and the gift of God in our Community of believers). Be conscious of the gift you are receiving and thank Him.
- Be a Participant, not just an Observer. Sing, no matter your ability. What an example we can be for each other, with strong responses, and attentive hearts to the Mass. Your attentive and participative spirit hopefully will be caught by the ‘sleepier’ Mass goer.
- Be appreciative of the many persons, choirs, decorators, liturgical ministers, ushers and behind the scenes parishioners who make such celebrations possible.
- Finally, return home with not only the ‘experience’ of Christmas Mass, but with the ‘meaning’ fully enveloped in your heart, a memory to be sure, but also a desire to be followed.