December 12, 2014

Editorial

Slow down, witness to Christ during Advent, Christmas and beyond

If you take to heart the messages many in our ever-growing secular society send us, we are way behind if we haven’t almost completed our Christmas and holiday shopping.

Many retailers had their “holiday” decorations on display—as many politically correct people try to remind us since they tell us we can’t specify just the season of Christmas any more—before the warmth of summer days had ceased and the coolness of fall nights had replaced them.

The message is crystal-clear: Let’s zip through Halloween and barely clean our plates from our Thanksgiving gathering and hit the stores and the “can’t miss” sales on Black Thursday, fight more of the masses on Black Friday and see if we can beat the Internet traffic to get good online buys on Cyber Monday.

As Catholics, something tells us things should be a little different—much different—than the way this time of year is portrayed. We know there are much more important things than fighting the traffic and crowds at the nearest mall.

We are in the second week of Advent, now two weeks from Christmas, and we should be slowing down, not letting chaos reign as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth.

In a homily he shared during Advent in 2013, Pope Francis reminded us that, though many may be spending time searching for the perfect gift during this time of year, it might be even more difficult to find the perfect Advent atmosphere: a bit of silence.

It is good during this season to listen to God, who speaks quietly, tenderly, like a mother or father, the pope stressed. “When a child has a bad dream and wakes up crying, Dad goes and says: ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. I’m here.’ The Lord speaks this way too.”

That, said the pope, “is the music of the language of the Lord, and we, in preparation for Christmas, ought to hear it.”

While Christmas usually “seems to be a very noisy holiday,” the Holy Father was confident “it would do us good to have a little silence and to hear these words of love, these words of such nearness, these words of tenderness.”

If we take time to examine our lives, we can search for ways to find that quiet time that is desperately needed this time of year.

One question we should also ask ourselves is: How do I listen more closely to Christ during Advent?

Why not:

  • Turn the radio or CD player off driving to or from work, and spend the time in prayer. Or just be silent. Listen to hear if God speaks to you.
  • Make a visit to an adoration chapel and spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Get away from the distractions and find a quiet space in your home to pray the rosary or any other prayer that seems appropriate.
  • Participate in an Advent reconciliation service at your parish or a nearby parish.

Though the calendar year is nearly complete, Advent offers us another opportunity to give ourselves the spiritual recharge many of us need in our lives of faith.

As Advent drew to a close in 2013, Pope Francis asked Catholics to imagine themselves as Mary. During Advent’s final week, “the Church is like Mary: She is awaiting a birth,” Pope Francis said. Like Mary, believers should say of Jesus and mean with all their hearts: “Come! I want to see your face.”

Advent, then Christmas and the entire liturgical year, gives us the chance to share that Good News with all people who cross our path—“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’ ” (Mt 1:23; Is 7:14).

May we slow down, and always allow our lives to witness to this tenet of our faith.

—Mike Krokos

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