It's here. The absolute avalanche of recommended "preparations" for Christmas. From Jesse trees to Christmas shopping, from decorating to baking, from Advent countdowns to spiritual reading, there are a plethora of resources out there to help you "prepare" for the Coming Of Christ. And often, people place the visual, decorative preparations as if they are diametrically opposed to the interior, spiritual preparations.
One year, I attempted the virtuous practice of banning the majority of Christmas decorations and paraphernalia until Christmas Day. This works for some families. Their lives remain uncomplicated and focused on the coming of Christ by making their surroundings calm and uncomplicated in the weeks leading up to celebrating His birth.
One year, I tried this.
It was. The worst. Advent. Ever. For our entire family. EVER!
(Almost as bad as the year I gave up chocolate for Lent. Whew. Bad idea. Not pretty. Good thing I didn't do them both in the same year!)
As a Catholic, I am enormously grateful for the visual richness of our Faith! Our historical churches are filled with statues, stained glass, and breath-taking architecture, all of which tell the Scriptural and Traditional stories of our Faith for what was once a largely illiterate human population. Visual beauty in our churches provides a worthy inspiration on which to meditate and place ourselves completely -- body and soul -- in the Presence Of God. It raises our eyes, our minds, our hearts, and our souls to the True Artist, the Author Of All Beauty.
At Christmas, God's Only Begotten Son became present among us. We believe and pray this every day around lunchtime at our house when we pray the Angelus: "The Word was made Flesh.
[all bow] And dwelt among us.
Similarly in our house, before Christmas, we rejoice in the anticipation of His coming by leaving no horizontal surface bare. Anywhere our eyes rest, there is something of beauty to remind us of Him.
The creche, with its manger empty, though filled with a bedding of fresh hay, waiting to cradle His soft, warm, newborn baby's body.
The pine boughs, fragrant and evergreen, their pungency pleasantly reminding us of the eternal life His coming promises that we may share with Him.
The tiny, flickering, dipping flames of the Advent candles, touching the kitchen -- the soul of our home -- with a soft, suffused light in the evenings, just as He will touch our souls with the gentle light of His grace. If we let Him.
All in all, by Christmas, our house is bedecked and bespangled to the rafters. Alert. Readying. Waiting. Hoping. With barely restrained JOY*! We look forward to the coming of the Greatest Guest Of All - JESUS!
This Christmas, take a page from the book of the early evangelists to the British Isles, especially Ireland, the sole country wherein Christianity was accepted without the bloodshed of its messengers. In Scotland and Ireland, countless pagan Celtic traditions were washed anew and imbued with Christian significance.
Do the same in your own home. As you prepare for Christmas, make every tiny touch something infused with His grace, His significance, His gifts, His coming. Be reminded of HIM at every turn!
The picture of the candy cane and roses centerpiece
above is a simple little gift of an idea from me to you! The red roses remind me of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And the candy canes originally were made to be a "J" for Jesus, with the white candy representing His purity and the red representing His Precious Blood.
This is a quick-cheap-'n-easy centerpiece, perfect for so many places! Pop it on the table before your treasured family and friends arrive to share a meal. Place it in front of a favorite statue in your home (ours is the Sacred Heart!). Or maybe make one up as a house-warming gift for someone you love, whom you are visiting. The possibilities are endless for this simple yet creative piece.
This Christmas, let the light of Christ reach every corner of your heart and your home by transforming your physical surroundings into a visual symphony of JOY! Joy in the coming of Him, the Light of the World, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace!
* = JOY
ESUS first, O
THERS next, Y