by Mai-Anh Le
11/07/2010 / Christian Living
How do you prepare for holidays? For most of us, beginning with the days before Thanksgiving and continuing all through and until the very last minute of December 24th our life is a chaotic balancing act. Our list of "to do's" have us running around breathlessly through crowded shopping malls and grocery stores to find the perfect gift or ingredient for our special celebration. We try to fit in time for all the nostalgic traditions of Christmas such as decking the halls with boughs of holly, filling the tree with endless strings of lights and colorful ornaments, baking dozens of cookies, sweet breads, and other goodies for friends and family, and we'll even struggle to squeeze in time to write cards to those we miss and love but cannot see throughout year. Every year the balancing act becomes a little more difficult as the list of "to do's" grow a little longer. But most of us don't mind. In fact, we'll even give it our best effort because we mistakenly of think that the more of these type of activities we do, the more of the Christmas spirit we will feel, thus giving us a wonderful holiday season. Of course nothing could be more wrong.
I can remember years when I did all these things and still my joy did not seem complete when Christmas came. There were even years when I felt like I was not ready for Christmas or felt like I missed out on Christmas because there was an obvious emptiness and loneliness where the Christmas Spirit should have been. I use to think the joy must have "come short" because I didn't do enough of those "holiday tasks", or that I didn't do it with a the "jolly spirit". But I know now it was really because I had the wrong Christmas "spirit" in my heart. It was only the commercial Christmas cheer that I was practicing and exhibiting. We could shop, decorate or bake until we drop and still the joy we get from that Christmas "spirit" would only be temporary; all of its high will eventually wear out as we ware out. There is only one Christmas Spirit that can guarantee our lasting joy, and that is the true Spirit of Christmas. The joy from here is what we desire because it lasts forever. After all, it is true reason for the celebration of the season this is the real Christmas Spirit, the one from the celebration of Baby Immanuel's birthday.
During the month of December the Church offers us a period to reflect on the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. Although the reason for Advent is not referred to in this sense, I've always thought of Advent as the perfect time to find my Christmas Spirit for the holidays and the coming year since the beginning date of Advent happens to fall on the same weekend the frenzy shopping with the mobs begins in all the malls and stores. On the Church calendar this is the first Sunday after the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30). The word Advent itself means "coming" and is derived from the Latin word "adventus". Advent is designed to give us a spiritual orientation to the coming celebration and time to reflect and prepare for it. In an essence Advent is a spiritual "waiting room". Although preparation is an important theme for Christmas, Advent is much more involved. Advent gives us a vision of our lives as Christians and shows us the possibilities of life. It does this in two-folds; first by asks us to look back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, and then second, it asks us to look forward to the future when Christ will come again for the second and final time. In the interval between these two events we shall find the meaning for our existence and life as Christians.
As we progress through this season, let us invite the Holy Spirit to deepen our appreciation and understanding of all these multiple dimensions of Advent and to stir in us an eager longing and desire to wholeheartedly greet our Savior in all of his comings to us. May we be found living "lives of holiness and Godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God," (2 Peter 3:11-12).
To quote St. Augustine: "Let us not resist the first Advent and the second will not terrify us."
My name is Mai-Anh Le. I'm a 35 year old Catholic woman who's currently suffering from a complicated case of chronic lyme disease though I am healing. Before this illness I was an mechanical engineer for NASA. I loved my work and the things I was able to do, but the lyme has changed much of my lif
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