Christmas this year will bring one present many people pray for, Christmas will fall on a Sunday, so we only have to go to Mass once next week. It is the opposite of what we are used to and that might help us get ready for Christmas because getting ready for Christmas is not like getting ready for the other holidays/holy days. Whereas we normally speed up to get ready for special events, Christmas asks us to slow down to prepare ourselves for what is about to happen.
Perhaps we on the Northern hemisphere have an advantage by having Christmas in winter, where the days are shorter and darker and that naturally leads us to reflection and introspection. This week is an ideal time to really reflect on what I need to do in order to make sure Jesus is welcomed in my home and in my life whereas He was not welcomed in Bethlehem.
To help us with this time of reflection, Mother Church gives us a mini-season, an Octave, (Dec17-23) called the O-antiphon season. Each day we reflect on the foretold titles that belong to Jesus to remind us who is truly coming. If you know Christmas songs, then you know the O-antiphons make up the verses of the song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” They are (in order) O Wisdom of God Most High (17), O Leader of the House of Israel (18), O Root of Jesse’s stem , (19), O Key of David (20), O Radiant Dawn (21),O King of all nations (22), and O Emmanuel (23).
One way to make any of our holy seasons more meaningful is to put more prayer in your day. If you have been missing your prayers, start easy with a morning prayer and evening prayer. If you only do one of these, then add the other as well. In any case make an effort to start your day with one of these titles each day and reflect on that part of Jesus that will be fulfilled in your life from wisdom to new light to God with us.
Certainly, God is with us in each and every Eucharist, but Christmas is that moment when God broke into our humanity and worthy of extra attention. It is interesting to reflect that most of the ways we culturally prepare for Christmas (parties, shopping, decorating, baking, and vacations) work against our call to slow down and become quiet whereas nature reinforces the stillness. It’s not that we shouldn’t celebrate with friends and family, but we must know it works against our best interest and perhaps why stress levels unnecessarily skyrocket in this time of year. In any case, an extra moment to slow down sitting by the Christmas tree or your fireplace or prayer corner can be a good start to slow things down and not miss the greatest thing that ever happened to our world.
With a heart for Mission,