Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas
CINCINNATI —The Christmas season is filled with extra stress and busyness as people plan for the holidays and gather with friends and family in celebration. As a result, many people forget to take time to relax and fully contemplate and prepare for Jesus’ birth.
In the midst of a busy holiday season, freelance writer Kristina M. Santos reflects on an encounter that helped her step back from the holiday stress and spend more time focusing on strengthening her faith in anticipation of Jesus’ birth. After November 20, the article in the December issue of St. Anthony Messenger entitled “Preparing the Way” will be posted at: http://www.AmericanCatholic.org.
Santos’ reflection is based on an encounter she has with a seamstress at her local parish. When she was praying at church and observed a woman at church who was creating a new white altar cloth for Christmas season, Santos felt a deep connection to this woman and recognized their unity in faith.
Throughout the sometimes tiring Christmas season, the author looks to this seamstress as a reminder of love and devotion to Jesus. She describes the seamstress as “preparing the way for Jesus with such joyful devotion. Every careful stitch she made was an act of love, a whisper of welcome to Jesus.” The seamstress is an example of increasing awareness of Jesus’ love.
More mindful of this love, Santos considers its power and meaning in our lives. Especially during Advent, Catholics have the opportunity to focus on forming a deeper relationship with God. Through songs and prayers, Catholics are calling for God and are filled with “hope for Jesus to be born anew in each of our hearts,” she explains.
All of this preparation, hope and increased recognition of Jesus’ love is celebrated at Christmas Mass. Santos attends Mass at her parish on Christmas Eve and sees the beautiful new altar cloth. She believes that “here and now, this altar, with this new cloth, seems to shine not only with the love of the seamstress, but also with all of our love. For in coming to this Mass on Christmas Eve, we humbly bring all that we are to this altar.”
Everyone may have prepared differently for Jesus’ birth. However, all are able to come together “joining the long procession of people who have always been coming to the altar of God, people who have prayed well and strived to live in holiness,” Santos writes.
This recognition of unity and love is not just found at the altar at Christmas. Instead, Catholics need to continually develop our lives of faith and prayer through Jesus’ love.
Permission is granted to reprint this release.
The other article posted will be “The True Gift of Christmas” by Larry Zurek, O.F.M.