6 Tips on Keeping Christmas Contemplative

How do we give Christmas the honor it deserves, not to mention the Christ Child it is meant to raise up in sight of the whole world?

(photo: Jules Bastien-Lepage, “The Annunciation to the Shepherds”, 1875)

Any time you see the words “Christ” and “Mas(s)” listed together on a day on your calendar, you better take that day seriously. I mean, really, what could be more important than a day centered upon Jesus Christ and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? As Padre Pio once said, “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass.”

With this in mind, just how do we give Christmas the honor it deserves, not to mention the Christ Child it is meant to raise up in sight of the whole world? On a spiritual adventure with this goal on my heart, I decided to roam around in cyberspace as well as in a few of my favorite Catholic books in search of some unique, profound quotes about what Christmas really means. Here are some of the gems I came across and the meditations that came to my mind as I read them:

(1) “We desire to be able to welcome Jesus at Christmas-time, not in a cold manger of our heart, but in a heart full of love and humility, a heart so pure, so immaculate, so warm with love for one another,” said St. Teresa of Calcutta.

Mother Teresa, the beloved icon of charity, understood that Christmas is a time to relish in the beauty of love – not just the endless clamor of “stuff.” It is also a time to focus on intimate matters of the heart and do some deep “soul-searching.” The Advent and Christmas seasons are times when God shines tremendous rays of mercy and grace upon His people, and we don't want to miss out!

(2) “Christ is born, so that by His birth He might restore your nature,” St. Peter Chrysologus said.  Most of us are painfully aware of our limitations and weaknesses on a daily basis. At Christmas-time, we can be filled with hope of the restoration promised to us by Christ. What a joy!

(3) “During the whole Christmas period our eyes will rejoice at the mystery of the Holy Family, just as children rejoice when they look at the crib, recognizing in it a kind of prototype of their own family, the family within which they came into the world,” Pope St. John Paul II said. This insightful quote, so telling of this great Pope's wise and meditative nature, reminds us to be in wonder at Christmas. Yes, Christmas-time is meant to call us to be an awe-struck people, fascinated by the charm of Emmanuel – the God who became one entirely with the “dust of the earth,” with the people He bought by shedding His own blood. What a gorgeous challenge to tackle...why wait until next year to take it on?

(4) "All days from the treasure of this bright day gain blessings... Great is this day above all days, for in it came forth mercy for sinners. A medicine chest is Your great day, because on it shone for the Medicine of life to the wounded. A treasure of helpful graces is this day, because on it, Light gleamed forth on our blindness," St. Ephraem the Syrian said. Thinking of Christmas as a balm for one's wounds is beautiful! Christmas can bring healing to the lost sinner, the sad and lonely one, or the broken heart in ways that no other feast can. This Christmas, let us bring Him our sorrows and our hurts.

(5) "For me, Christmas has always been about this: Contemplating the visit of God to His people,” Pope Francis said. Christmas just has a way of calling us to a more authentic spiritual life – at least for time. Even inactive Catholics who do not normally go to Mass feel an urge to spend Christmas with the Christ Child in the Eucharist, and make it to a Christmas service somehow. It truly is the “night of miracles,” a feast that calls upon us to see the living mercy of God-made-man, so radiant, so impossible to miss.

(6) “In this night of reconciliation, let none be angry or gloomy. In this night that stills everything, let nothing threaten or disturb. This night belongs to the sweet One; let nothing bitter or harsh be in it. In this night that belongs to the meek One, let there be nothing high or haughty. In this day of pardoning, let us not exact punishments for trespasses. In this day of gladness, let us not spread sadness,” St. Ephraem the Syrian said. As we celebrate the full Octave of the Feast of Christmas, we have plenty of time to examine our consciences. Is there anyone who needs our forgiveness? Are there any grudges we have been nursing, or any revenge we have been seeking? Christmas is the feast of forgiveness because it is the celebration of the birth of the king of all mercy, who lives and reigns forever!