Shop until you drop! Buying, having, possessing and allowing your possessions to possess you! Rushing for this sale and this discount; stampeding into stores concentrating on things more than on human persons; worrying about the food, the drink, the parties and the pleasure.
Sad to say, this has all become the modern immediate preparation for Christmas. Moreover, in many places even the word “Christmas” has been forbidden from modern vocabulary.
In other words, the true meaning of Christmas, far and wide has been obliterated from the minds of the modern world. Christmas has been transformed into a secular even pagan holiday.
To counteract this enormous materialistic and paganistic tendency we would like to encourage all to reflect upon five simple and clear ideas so as to live a truly spiritual Christmas.
1. Jesus is the reason for the season
The whole focus of Advent which culminates in the Solemnity of Christmas is a person! That person is Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true reason for the entire season.
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary in the humble, poor stable of Bethlehem. The name “Jesus” means Savior. He came to open up the gates of heaven, to save us from slavery to sin, the devil, and eternal damnation. This Christmas let us contemplate the Person of Jesus and the purpose of His mission. Let our hearts overflow in humble praise and thanksgiving.
St. Ignatius of Loyola accentuates the fact that Jesus did all of this not simply for humanity as a whole but for you and I, individually. Jesus was born, suffered, died and rose from the dead for me, as if I were the only person in the universe. How important I am for God! How important Christmas—the birth of Jesus—should be for me.
The literal interpretation of this word is “The Mass of Christ”. The most pleasing gesture I can carry out, the most pleasing gift I can give to Jesus, the most total way I can live out Christmas, would be to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the moment of Consecration in Holy Mass, Jesus is truly born in the hands of the priest when he says: “This is my Body… this is my blood… Do this in memory of me.”
Even more, when I receive Jesus into my heart in Holy Communion then Jesus is truly born in my heart. The word “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread”. My heart indeed becomes the “House of Bread” when I receive Jesus the “Bread of Life “in Holy Communion. In reality, attending Mass daily and receiving Holy Communion daily, I can be experiencing Christmas every day!
3. “Rejoice in the Lord!”
Christmas is a time to rejoice! However, true joy cannot be acquired by things of creation, but by approaching the Creator of all things—the God of the universe. The third Sunday of Advent is “Guadete,” this is Latin for rejoice. This quotation is taken from Philippians 4:4-5: “Rejoice in the Lord; again I say, rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.” Pleasure can be bought with money and depends on the exterior stimulus of the senses. Joy cannot be bought with money but it can be received freely by opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit who gives His Gifts freely. Among the fruits of the Holy Spirit are joy, peace, patience and chastity. This Christmas may our hearts be overflowing in joy; a joy that is based on a strong conviction of God’s infinite love for us manifested in the Incarnation of His Son, the Lord Jesus!
4. Silence and Prayer.
In the holiday season, it is all too easy to be absorbed by an endless barrage of noise; let’s call it “Noise pollution”. Nevertheless, for us to enter into deep contact with God, silence is an indispensable pre-condition. Call to mind the encounter of Elijah and his mountain experience. This great prophet did not discover God’s voice in the storm, thunder, nor in the earthquake. Rather, he discovered God’s voice in the whispering of the wind. The young Samuel heard the Lord’s voice in the temple and responded: “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”
Pope Benedict reminded the seminarians in New York that it is indeed hard to hear the voice of the Lord because we are bombarded by so many different noises. Call to mind one of the traditional Christmas hymns: “Silent Night!” May our hearts rest in the silence of Bethlehem and come to adore Him! “O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him Jesus the Lord.”
5. Wise Men Find Jesus in the arms of Mary
The bumper sticker on the back of my car reads: “Wise men still find Jesus in the arms of Mary.” Christmas would be all but incomplete if we ignored the person and the presence of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Indeed the Season of Advent is imbued with a Marian spirit. On December 8th the Church celebrates the patroness of the United States of America, the Immaculate Conception. “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Four days later, Dec 12th, the Church celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe. Blessed Pope John Paul II proclaimed her as the Patroness of the Americas. Of course, Christmas is the birth of Jesus, who was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary has four unique privileges freely given to her from an all-generous God: her Immaculate Conception, her Perpetual Virginity, her Assumption into heaven in body and soul, and finally her Divine Maternity. The greatest of these Marian privileges—which are also Marian dogmas of faith—is her Divine Maternity. This means that Mary was chosen by God to be the Mother of God. We honor this privilege every time we pray with love, faith, and devotion the “Hail Mary”, saying, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen”. May Our Lady, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our loving and tender Mother attain for us the most joyful, peaceful and holy of Christmases in our entire life! The most blessed of Christmases!
Mary is the Mother of God and our Mother: through Her intercession, let us have a blessed Advent and a holy Christmas.