HOW CAN YOU “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS”?
The Church sets aside the four weeks prior to Christmas as a time of preparation of our hearts so that we can truly understand the meaning of Christmas. The Season of Advent is a time of slowing down, waiting, and preparing our hearts. Christmas is not about presents but about Jesus. Jesus who is Love made flesh. Christmas is about LOVE!
The second person of the Trinity (Jesus) became a little baby so that He can restore humanity to a relationship with God the Father. The disobedience of Adam and Eve (remember the Book of Genesis and original sin) caused humanity to lose its relationship with God the Father. God the Father still loved humanity so that throughout Salvation History, God put into motion His plan in order to redeem humanity. Ultimately, it is through Jesus’ death on the cross (i.e. Good Friday), that humanity is restored to a relationship with God the Father.
The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers offer the following suggestions regarding “Keeping Christ in Christmas”:
1. Use postage stamps that feature a religious theme.
2. Hang an Advent Calendar and open a window on the calendar each day.
3. Display your nativity set in a window or on the lawn where others can see it.
4. Place a battery operated candle in the window to symbolize the light of Christ.
5. Listen to traditional Christmas carols that honor Christ’s birth.
6. Call radio stations and television channels requesting Christmas carols and stories.
7. Ask stores for religious Christmas wrapping paper and decorations. You can thank them for carrying those items as well.
8. Read Christmas scripture and stories to children.
9. Purchase a gift, wrap it, and give it to the poor – and encourage a child to do the same.
10. Snap a photo of how you are living the “Spirit of Christmas” and share it on Facebook with the hashtag #SpiritofChristmas.
11. During the Christmas season, enjoy Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers’ daily Advent Reflections at Facebook.com/Maryknoll.MEP.West.
12. Use decorations with “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”.
13. Have a child place a straw in the crèche for each good deed done as a gift to the Baby Jesus during Advent.
14. Pray for the young, so that when they become adults they will not regard Christmas as just another holiday free from work.
Additional suggestions include
15. Make an Advent Wreath with three purple candles and one pink candle. Say the prayer for each week of Advent.
The following prayers are taken from dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever:
Week 1, Hope
Dear Jesus, you are the hope in our messy world. This Advent, help us slow down, listen to your voice, and focus on what’s really important. We place our hope in you as we prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth on Christmas. Amen.
Week 2, Peace
Dear Jesus, you entered our world on Christmas as the Prince of Peace. This Advent, as we strive to become the-best-version-of-ourselves, fill us with a deep and abiding peace. Help us share that peace with everyone we encounter, especially those who need it most. Amen.
Week 3, Joy
Dear Jesus, help us focus on you during this busy season. May we stay aware of the joy you bring into our lives. We want to find you in the everyday moments and come with hearts of gratitude to your manger on Christmas. Amen.
Week 4, Love
Dear Jesus, may the light of your love always shine in our hearts. As Christmas draws closer, we marvel at your great love for us. Let your love transform every aspect of our lives and touch everyone we encounter. Our hearts are open to you, Jesus. Amen.
Advent Prayer for Families
Heavenly Father, your son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us, a great sign of your love. Guide us as we strive to walk in that love together as a family this Advent. As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, bring us closer to each other and to your son. Give us the grace and strength we need every day. Help us to always trust in you. Come, Lord Jesus, lead all people closer to you. Come and dispel the darkness of our world with the light of your love. Amen.
Blessing the Advent Wreath with Children
Dear Jesus, as we light the candle(s) on this Advent wreath, may the light of your presence bring joy to our hearts. Bless our family and our friends, and be with all those who are in need this holiday season. Amen.
16. Wish everyone you meet a “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays”. Be proud of your Catholic faith!
17. Send cards that say “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays”. Be proud of your Catholic faith!
18. Give the gift of prayer! Give cards from religious communities such as the Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. and the Sacred Heart Southern Missions that say “You will remembered by the Marian Fathers in the three Christmas Masses celebrated on Christmas Day . . .”, “. . . you will be remembered in the Christmas Novena of nine daily Masses celebrated in the Sacred Heart Southern Missions”, and “This Card certifies the Enrollment of . . . from this Christmas to the next in the Association of Marian Helpers . . .”
19. Consider stopping by the Parish Office to see our Parish Secretary, Teresa Cariello, so you can request a Mass to be offered for yourself, the special people in your life, family members . . . (After all, what is more important, you physical wants and desires or the salvation of your spiritual soul and the souls of others?)
20. Watch shows on EWTN – the adult and children shows offer a Catholic perspective and teach the Catholic faith. During the Advent season, a large number of the shows focus on Advent and the true meaning of Christmas.
HOW ABOUT THIS CHRISTMAS, YOU CONSIDER A GIFT FOR JESUS!
What kind of gift would Jesus be interested in?
Perhaps your resolution to try to follow Jesus more faithfully in the coming year.
How can you follow Jesus more faithfully?
1. By developing and growing your relationship with Jesus (i.e. through prayer).
2. By attending Mass more than just on Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation.
3. By attending First Friday Mass so that you can experience the Sacred Heart Devotions (these devotions provide very small glimpses into the depth and immensity of Jesus’ love for each one of us).
4. By attending Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (on Tuesdays), the Flame of Love Rosary (on Thursdays), the Divine Mercy Chaplet (on Fridays), and the Rosary (before Mass on Mondays – Fridays).
5. By praying the Rosary, the Fame of Love Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other rosaries or chaplets at home or with your friends. Instead of getting together with friends for a movie night, consider getting together for a night of prayer. If you and your friends cannot physically get together, consider praying the rosary or chaplet over the phone.
6. By praying The way of the Cross (The Stations of the Cross).
7. By reading the Bible.
8. By reading the Living Faith booklets (offered freely by St. Polycarp Church and found at all of the Church entrances).
9. By striving to understand more fully and living out the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments are
1. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have other gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
4. Honor your father and mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
10. By striving to understand more fully and putting into practice the Beatitudes.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) are
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
11. By striving to understand more fully and practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy and the Corporal Works of Mercy.
The Corporal Works of Mercy are
feeding the hungry,
giving drink to the thirsty,
clothing the naked,
sheltering the homeless,
comforting the prisoners,
visiting the sick, and
burying the dead.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are
teaching the ignorant,
praying for the living and the dead,
counseling those in doubt,
consoling the sorrowful,
bearing wrongs patiently, and
forgiving wrongs willingly.
12. By striving to understand the more deeply and actually living out our Baptismal Promises. (You do know your Baptismal Promises? You yourself agreed or your parents agreed for you on your behalf if you were baptized as a baby. Every Easter Sunday, the priest asks the congregation to renew their Baptismal Promises. The Baptismal Promises begin with the priest asking the congregation questions about rejecting sin and Satan and then move to questions reflective of what we as Catholic believe. This part should sound very familiar like the Apostles’ Creed because it is – just in a question format.)
The Baptismal Promises are to
renounce the lure of evil
believing in one God, the Father almighty . . .
believing in Jesus Christ . . .
believing in the Holy Spirit . . .
13. By striving to know the precepts of the Church and choosing to follow them.
The Precepts of the Church are
attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of
Obligation, and resting from unnecessary work on these days,
observing the days of abstinence and fasting (all Fridays in Lent as well as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday),
confessing your sins to a priest (at least once a year),
receiving the Eucharist at least once a year during
the Easter Season, and
contributing to the support of the Church.
14. By knowing the seven deadly sins and making a serious effort to avoid committing the seven deadly sins.
The Seven Deadly Sins are
15. By experiencing the Sacraments more regularly – in particular the Sacrament of Reconciliation (i.e. Confession and Penance) and the Eucharist (i.e. the Mass).
Jesus wants so badly to give you graces and strength to overcome sins. It is Jesus who waits for you in the confessional using the priest as His representative. It is Jesus who yearns so strongly for you to receive Him in the Host and the Wine at Mass. It is Jesus who waits for you in the Blessed Sacrament.
If you open your heart just a little bit to Jesus, Jesus can use that little bit to strengthen your faith and the faith of those around you. Jesus does not need a big heart, but a heart which is willing to listen and to follow Him! Just look at the saints!
It has been said that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. An even greater tragedy is not making use of the Sacraments. The seven sacraments are signs of Jesus’ love for us. Now is the time of mercy! Take advantage of the time of mercy. If you do not make use of the time of mercy, you will face the time of judgment. Who can face Divine Judgment? I implore you! I beseech you! Take advantage of the Sacraments! It is never too late to start living out your Catholic faith and being a faithful disciple of Jesus. Jesus is the Truth! Jesus cannot deny Himself. But we can follow or deny Jesus. Let us choose to follow Jesus more faithfully in the coming year.
16. By praying for vocations.
17. By praying for priests. Priests have temptations too A religious brother or sister has to deal with temptations as well.
18. By praying for the souls in purgatory. Visit the Prayers for All Souls page on our website at https://saintpolycarp.org/prayers-for-all-souls/ or www.saintpolycarp.org/ > About Us > Our Faith > Prayers for All Souls for some prayers.
19. By learning this short prayer and saying it often throughout the day, especially when you pass a cemetery. As Mother Angelic said, “Everytime you pass a cemetery, it’s time for a little prayer: ‘Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord.’ It’s just common sense that you help some of them get out of Purgatory.”
20. By sharing the love of Jesus with others through your actions and words.
21. By choosing to smile!
22. By choosing to forgive!
23. By choosing to be patient.
24. By choosing to be involved in the various ministries here at St. Polycarp Church.
25. By choosing to be good faithful stewards of the gifts God has given you.
26. By observing the Church’ teachings regarding fasting and abstinence during Lent.
27. By taking home, the new calendar after the calendar is blessed on the last Sunday of the year so you can be aware of the feasts, the special days, and the days of Holy Obligation celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church.
You will also be able to answer this question. The readings for the coming year are from Cycle A or Cycle B or Cycle C? Every three years the readings at Church goes through the Bible.
28. By making sacrifices to God, Jesus and our Mother, Mary, throughout the year.
29. By calling on your Guardian Angel for help when you need help. Did you know you can call on your Guardian help for help or for assistance is resisting temptation and sin? Your Guardian Angel is also a witness to all of your deeds and thoughts.
30. By reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and inserting your name in place of the word “love”. This exercise was a suggestion during a priest’s homily of a Mass which aired on EWTN.
1 Corinthians 134:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Are you patient?
Are you kind?
Are you not jealous?
Are you not pompous?
Are you not inflated?
Are you not rude?
Are you seeking not your own interests?
Are you not quick-tempered?
Are you not brooding over injury?
Are you not rejoicing over wrongdoing but rather rejoicing with the truth?
Are you bearing all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and enduring all things?
Perhaps you can pick one or two items to work on in the coming year. Getting your life in order and working on the health of your spiritual soul is a more worthwhile, noble, and valuable goal.