Here’s my latest post from Ignitum Today with a few slight changes
With my job come several wonderful perks. Attending weekly mass with the Catholic School is one of them. It’s a K-8 school, and my favorite part of mass is going to receive Communion. The voices of the students grow louder and louder as I approach the altar. Of course, the older students think they are too cool to sing, and the Kindergartners are just happy to make a little noise. But it is a beautiful choir nevertheless.
As we were transitioning between Christ the King and the First week of Advent, I snuck into the school chapel to get in some prayer time. Coming into the chapel from a side entrance, I saw the Advent Wreath. But I also saw that they had put up the stable for the Christmas Creche. I prayed as I walked to the front that they had not placed Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the rest in it yet. I was shocked and in awe of what I saw. There was no Mary, Joseph, Jesus, or any person in it. Only sheep and some hay.
I had never seen this before, and was completely engrossed in it. A simple stable unknowingly waits to receive our Lord. For now, it is crowded with animals. They make a mess of the floor, live their daily lives and are none the wiser. As the weeks progress more animals will be stabled because of the census. It will be very crowded.
The same happens in our very own lives. Advent is a time to prepare for Christ to enter into our lives. Yet, there are tasks and activities which also enter our lives as Christmas approaches. There are cookies to bake. Presents to wrap. Events to attend. All of which can be good, but they have a tendency to muck up our lives. They leave us so busy and frazzled, we are more ready for Christmas to be over as it has just begun.
The good news. As with the stable, there are opportunities to muck out the stalls and floors of our own hearts. It’s not a pleasant job, but it must be done. New hay needs to be laid. Waste removed. Hungry animals fed. If you aren’t a stable hand, what are you to do?
New Hay – Many barns or stables have a dirt floor, so hay is needed to keep animals warm from cold, and to absorb animal waste. Try to get into the true spirit of the season by starting a new devotion. Attend daily mass. Sign up for daily mass readings via email, (https://www.flocknote.com/list/431). In short, do something new to help you grow this Advent.
Muck the Stalls – This job is often smelly, stinky, and required for the health of any animal. The same is true for our souls. We need cleaning up so that we are presentable for this great celebration. While Advent (a time for preparation) is not Lent (a time for repentance), we still would not go to a fancy party without cleaning up first. The same is true for the reception of Communion. We need to be in a state of grace when we receive him.
Feed the Animals – Nutrition is a fundamental aspect of our daily lives. Do we feed ourselves spiritually? Although Advent is a season to start new practices, do not let current practices fall aside. Just because you could sustain yourself on a liquid diet, doesn’t mean you should pass up a chance to eat your favorite meal. That would be like praying daily and never receiving the Eucharist. Sure, you could live like that. But it wouldn’t be filling you.
Yesterday marks two weeks until Christmas. If you haven’t started anything, that’s ok. There is still time. If you are like me, you have lists of everything to complete by Christmas. Take a few minutes to make one more list. But instead of who is getting what, or the menu for Christmas day, make a list of what you want to have completed spiritually before Christmas comes. Mine looks something like this:
Go to Confession
Read the Daily Catechism (http://www.flocknote.com/catechism)
Read the Sunday Readings before Mass
Take 15 minutes of silence per day for God
Pray daily with my husband
It’s a short list but it’s manageable. In time, my stable will be fresh and ready to welcome the Holy Family. Blessed Advent all!