The Christmas season is full of celebrations and preparations. It’s a beautiful time of year, yet it quickly becomes busy. From planning Christmas meals to picking out the perfect presents, it can get overwhelming — ending before we know it. And our holiday schedules and tasks can distract us from what really matters, anticipating and celebrating the birth of Christ.
There are countless distractions that pull away our attention and time. Without careful mindfulness, we will get swept up in them. So it’s important to keep Christ at the core of everything we do to prepare our hearts to welcome Him on Christmas. Consider carrying and sharing the true spirit of the season with these simple routines.
The Advent and Christmas traditions are so ingrained in the Catholic faith that we can fall into just going through the motions — forgetting the full significance. Putting out the Advent wreath, placing a nativity scene on the mantle, or singing Christmas songs can all become routine tasks. When you get started on these yearly traditions, take a moment to reflect on their origin. Why do we do it? What does it mean?
Make sure you keep up any daily prayer routines. Whether it’s a morning and evening prayer or daily mass attendance, don’t let the holiday chaos limit the time you spend in Christ’s presence through prayer. This consistency will also help keep you grounded and relieve stress through time in silence and reflection. As you pray, ask for the grace of Christmas joy to hold in your heart and share with others.
We can’t always avoid the stress that comes with the season. Whatever responsibilities you take on and any anxieties that result, present them to God in the spirit of sacrifice. This mindfulness will give greater purpose to holiday tasks and plans, elevating them with divine focus. It can help to choose a few specific intentions to center your sacrifices and keep at the forefront of your thoughts and prayers.
To journey with the Holy Family throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons, read the Christmas story as recounted in Matthew or Luke’s Gospel. This authentic storytelling will bring you back to the foundation of Christmas, without the exaggerations, modifications, or oversimplifications that other authors may present. Even consider starting a Christmas bible study with others to add extra accountability and companionship to your reading.
Similarly, make time to intentionally listen to authentic Christmas songs. There’s nothing wrong with modern remixes of traditional hymns or holiday tunes, but the sincerity and simplicity of the authentic hymns will put you in a more prayerful mindset. Just as reading the Christmas story in the Bible will bring you back to the purity of faith history, this music will do likewise. So turn up “Silent Night,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “O Holy Night,” or another Christmas favorite!
Volunteer programs and events are on the rise during the Christmas season. Although it’s hard to find time, try to participate in at least one volunteer activity. It could be an afternoon at a local homeless shelter, organizing or contributing to a Christmas meal food drive, or helping out at a parish Christmas bazaar. Giving your time and talents in the service of others will let you share in Christ’s selfless gift of coming into this world.
As Christmas approaches, don’t let the holiday hustle diminish the miracles and mysteries of the season. While we can’t control all our commitments, we should simplify where we can. When we keep Christ at the center, we can experience it all — the traditions, the community, the sacraments, the gifts — in a more fulfilling and Christian way.
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This spiritual reflection is from Advent 2018 Daily Reflections by Carmelite Sisters of the most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. It references Luke 1:67-70.
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