I honestly cannot describe the feelings I am having this Advent. I’ve had visions of just going away at Christmas and escaping all the hustle and bustle. I have never not looked forward to Christmas. I grew up in a happy Catholic family when Christmas was peaceful and always a blessing.
When John and I were married, I carried that same joy and openness of heart with John and our kids. John did not share these same happy experiences around the Christmas season so approaching Christmas with John has sometimes been marked with struggle because of John’s past. Now, I can certainly understand a lot better how Christmas can be a real burden for some people.
So, how do we open our hearts and prepare ourselves for Our Saviour in the manger? How do we open our hearts to feel joy and peace instead of numbness, sadness, and a feeling of wanting to escape the festivities?
Recently we watched a movie called Call me Mrs. Miracle. It was a really wholesome movie that centers around a father and son as well as a little boy from a different family whose mother had died. I won’t go too much into detail in case the opportunity arises to watch the movie but essentially the father (owner of a successful department store) ends up finally celebrating Christmas with his son after 20 years of escaping Christmas by flying to another location. The father was finally convinced his wife (who died 20 years previous) would want him to celebrate Christmas in her honour.
It is a big hurdle to say, “Hey, I can celebrate Christmas and not feel guilty for being joyful when we’ve suffered such a loss of someone we love dearly.” Perhaps the answer is found in the gift of Jesus born on Christmas day. We still need to do our best to prepare our heart this Advent by going to confession, adoration, Mass, daily prayer of the rosary (even if just a decade) . . . And then, we need to wait.
We need to wait patiently and prepare for the PROMISED SAVIOUR as did the descendants of Abraham right through to St. John the Baptist. Jesus will speak to us and he will answer our prayers, embrace our sorrows, and take them to God our Father as an offering of love for the world.
We homeschool our children and one thing that Jesus is teaching me along side my daughter in grade 1 is explained in our religion curriculum (Faith and Life Series) which includes “the three things necessary to attain happiness in Heaven: to know God, love God and serve God” …
From the curriculum (Teacher’s Manual page 42):
a. Know God : To pay attention and study hard in religion class, to read the scriptures, to listen well to the readings and homilies at Mass
b. Love God: To receive the Sacraments of Penance (Confession) and Holy Communion when old enough, to pray reverently at home, in the classroom, and at Mass, or during a visit to the Blessed Sacrament
c. Serve God: To be obedient to parents and teachers, to be helpful both at home and at school, to share toys, to be kind to others.”
Now, during this Advent season which finds my heart filled with more pain than with joy, one of my prayers is: “Jesus, help me to know, love and serve you better”.