How do we make our stable empty in preparation for the arrival of the Christ child in our hearts?

1) Recognize we are lost sheep, and that Christ comes to find us. Let us pray that we remain humble enough to call out to the Good Shepherd and follow him.

2) Know that with all we know, we are still dumb oxen, who brutishly sometimes respond only with our emotions, or who rely on comfort as a form of security. Let us pray to be gently yoked by our Lord, that we may cooperate with Christ and help pull others along the way to holiness.

3) In our sins, we are no more than asses. Even if we bray, buck, bite and stomp, we may still somehow be given the grace to carry Christ to others. Let us pray that we will allow the Holy Spirit to bridle our tongues, that we may be kind. Harness our wills that we may follow only his. Lead us that we may, however haltingly, find ourselves before Christ the King.

4) Prepare and offer your straw. Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “Everything I have written seems to me so much straw.” A Doctor of the Church can know that all he’s written cannot compare with the Subject about which he’s written — and yet he still offers it. We can do no less. 

5) Invite the Holy Family to rest in your home. Invite them to bless your family and to have a place of reverence at your table. They will bring the gifts of graces far more precious than gold, frankincense and myrrh. They will leaven the joy in your hearts, mend the relationships that are torn by sin, and inspire deeper acts of love to others.

6) Invite others in, or bring others into your family via prayer, via acts of service, and gifts of hospitality and fellowship. These are the shepherds, the kings and the angels, who are all privileged to be present on that first day. Receive them as Mary and Joseph, welcoming them into your hearts and home, even when you’re busy. Even when you have every reason to shut the door, even when you have nothing prepared. A warm, willing heart makes every meal a feast, and every home a palace.

7) Be the star that leads others to the true reason for this whole season. Be the star that reminds all of us why we wait, and for whom we wait, these short four weeks.

Have a Blessed Advent, and enjoy this precious time to clean out the stables of our hearts.