The Christmas preparation is on! For some, this is a hectic time, attempting to get everything ready for the coming Feast of Christmas. There are those moments when “The To Do List” just keeps on growing, and “The Done List” never seems to change. Time is of the essence, as we rush to get all the shopping done, those special gifts, and of course the food for the dinner. Then there is the task of cleaning the house and getting the Christmas Decorations out of storage and in place to bring to life the Christmas atmosphere of joy. Yes, there is a lot that must be done, with so little time to get everything in order.
Preparation is important for our Christmas celebration. It is when we procrastinate and wait until the last minute to accomplish certain tasks that one generally experiences unplanned issues and added stress.
Yet there is one area of preparation that I am afraid we tend to overlook, or even postpone indefinitely. That is preparing ourselves spiritually for Christmas. While our “To Do List” is important to keep us on task, unfortunately most of the things on this list center around the external attributes of Christmas. While they are nice, they seldom last past the Christmas Season. Come January 1, the decorations come down and are stored for another year, the Christmas greeting cards are disposed of and all those gifts are properly put away. Then what do you have?
It is that internal preparation, that spiritual preparation that we do, that in the end lasts. It is the spiritual preparation that we do that in the end fills our hearts and souls with the greatest gift of all; the love, the peace and the spirit of tranquility that we long for in Jesus Christ. This preparation is rather easy to do, and it is never too late to start. It is just a matter of taking some time and spending it in prayer, reading our Bible, and then quietly reflecting on the presence of God in that moment. By doing this one can attempt to be reconnected personally with God.
There is one easy spiritual activity that is vital for our continued development and growth. That is the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that God provides us with His healing presence and love, as He helps us to rid ourselves of those moments in life where we failed to live as God has called us to live. While it is important for us to acknowledge that we have sinned, it is also vital for us to experience God’s forgiving love and presence in our life. It is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that we can sweep out all that brokenness, all the clutter of our sinfulness. Then our Spiritual Home will be clean and ready to welcome the Lord Jesus, the light of the world into our heart and our life once again.
On Tuesday, December 14 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. we will have that special opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Once again, this year, in a spirit of safety, we will omit the Penance Prayer Service. Rather, I will be available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation individually at your convenience. Please come celebrate this great sacrament of healing as we continue to prepare for the coming Feast of Christmas.
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE
Prepare Ye the Way!
The church gives us these hopeful images to encourage us in or own preparation to welcome Jesus at Christmas. God loves it when we come to him, ready to straighten the crooked paths and smooth out the bumpy roads! And what better way to get ready than to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Start by sitting with the Holy Spirit in prayer. Ask him to help you identify the areas of your life that need God's healing and giving touch. Use the questions below to help get you started on your own personal dialogue with God
Relationship with God
Knowing how much God loves me, have I pursued my relationship with Him wholeheartedly? Have I turned to the Lord in prayer or Scripture every day? Have I sought Him through faithful Mass attendance and in the sacraments? Are there ways that I have allowed foul language or even deception to drive a wedge between the Lord and me? Have I allowed the desire for material things to rise up as mountains that can block my way to God? Have I allowed what others think of me to dictate my choices or actions?
Relationship with Others
If I feel burdened in certain relationships, is it because I have harbored hurts and built a wall against the people involved? Are there resentments in my heart against a person or group of people that are like a chasm that I can't get across? Am I generous with my time, material goods, and love? Do I reach across the gap of my discomfort to give practical help to those in need? Have I taken something that is not mine or stolen someone's good reputation through gossip? Has my way of looking at others been crooked, ignoring the life of God in them and valuing them for what they could give me? Have I allowed pride to blind me to the worth of those who don't agree with me?
Hope for the Way Ahead
When we come to Confession, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit wants to make our path to Jesus straight. He opens our eyes and our hearts so that we can receive forgiveness and be transformed. God clothes us in his mercy, making us a new creation in Christ. Like a newly paved road, straight and clear, we are changed and renewed. Strengthened by God's life in us, we can open ourselves to receive the King of Glory!
Fr. Peter Weiss, S.S.J.
PRAYER FOR FAMILIES
We bless your name, O Lord,
For sending your own incarnate Son,
To become part of a family,
So that, as he lived its life,
He would experience its worries and its joys.
We ask you Lord,
To protect and watch over this family,
So that in the strength of your grace
It members may enjoy prosperity,
Possess the priceless gift of your peace,
And, as the Church alive in the home,
Bear witness in this world to your glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.