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Reflection on the Manger
with the Aftermath of Christmas
Christmas Become a Season
Holy Can My Family Be?
New Year's Resolutions
|Entering into and Celebrating
the CHRISTMAS SEASON
Christmas is not the end of Advent. It is a real season of the Church year. We usually miss it because the consumer society that some of us live in has nothing to offer us, except for days to return gifts. Too often, within days after Christmas day, the decorations are down and it is over.
This year, let's try to really celebrate Christmas and the days that follow. Let's enter a new Season, which has its own spirit and desires and graces.
Special Feasts begin the season and we continue the story, so that we enter more deeply into the story of Jesus' coming to be one with our life, but also that we might enter more deeply into how Jesus comes this year to bless each of us.
Asking for the Grace We Desire
Sometimes we come up to Christmas eve and Christmas day, as well as the days after, with little or no time for formal prayer at all. Every moment, it seems, is filled with some preparation, some tradition, having people over to our house or going to others' homes. Even those of us who are home bound or those of us who might be alone these days sometimes have difficulty “getting to” the heart of the Gift offered us these days.
This year, let's ask for the grace or graces we desire. We may have many desires swirling around inside, or we may feel so fragmented that we don't know what we desire. Check out our Desires Page, for words that might help us with words to name our own desires.
Keeping Focused in the “Background”
The key to finding intimacy with God in the midst of each of our activities is to go through our day with an awareness of what it all means. With focus and a conscious attention to our desires, we can maintain an alive “background,” even while rushing somewhere, opening packages, eating dinner or avoiding a conflict.
For example, while going to a family dinner or while preparing a meal - even though there might be music on or other conversation happening around me - I can take brief moments to “collect” who I am and why I'm here and what I desire for this moment in this day. In a few simple deep breaths, I can say, “O Lord, as you came into our world to share our lives, please come into this day and give us peace. Please bless me, my family and friends at this meal with a little more love. I hand over to you my anxieties and fears, as I ask you for your own peace.” The Christmas Prayers linked in the Resources column offer ways to turn to God through the normal activities of our days. Our hope is that by reading these prayer suggestions, we might more easily use our own words in similar situations throughout our day.
Letting Rituals and Gestures Be Open to Grace
We hope that we will be able to celebrate the Eucharist or some common prayer with our faith community. Let's let that celebration be richly open to grace, with our attention and prayer. With focused attention, we can let many very ordinary parts of our days become prayerful and rich with grace. Imagine how different this Christmas would be if we let every handshake, touch on the arm, every hug, every kiss, be an opportunity - even for a few brief seconds - to turn to God in thanksgiving and with a prayer. “Thank you so much for Ann; she is such a gift. Please give her your freedom and peace.” “Chris is such a wonderful partner. Please fill our marriage with faith, generosity and self-sacrificing love.” “Lord, you know the struggles I have with Michael; let me be as compassionate and loving with him as you are.”
In these or similar brief prayers, our very ordinary gestures of greeting might be transformed and full of faith. Any other activity can become a ritual, if I let it have meaning: turning on the Christmas tree lights, (“Lord, let your Light brighten this house this day.”), opening the front door to guests, (“Lord, we open our house and our hearts to the gifts you bring us.”), sitting down after a big meal, (“Lord, I feel full, in so many ways; thank you.”).
And Giving Thanks at the End
At the end of our day, perhaps as we change our clothes, or just as we get into bed, we can give thanks for the wonder of God's gift to us in the coming of Jesus into our world, and for the graces that came to us through his coming to us today.
- Invitatory, Morning Prayer, Christmas Eve
- Morning Prayer, Christmas Eve
- Antiphon, Evening Prayer, Christmas Eve
once took on the weakness of our human condition,
were born into poverty and lowliness,
your birth bring joy to all peoples with the promise of unending life,
came to earth to lead everyone into the kingdom,
- Intercession, Christmas Eve
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