The secret for the success of a party is the preparation that is done prior to the party itself. Poor preparation, most likely a mediocre to poor party. The most important Birthday celebrated annually for the last two millennia is that of Jesus the Lord that we call Christmas.
PRIMARY FOCUS: THE PERSON AND NOT MATERIALISM. Our primary focus in our preparation for Christmas—the birth of Jesus, the Savior—must not be on parties, noise, buying and selling, having and possessing. Rather, we want to focus on that little Baby who was born of the Virgin Mary in the stable of Bethlehem that cold and starry night.
THE BEST CHRISTMAS IN OUR LIFE. It is our hope and our humble but fervent prayer that every Christmas that you celebrate will be filled with more intense longing, love, and welcoming of the Infant Baby Jesus who came into the world to save us. The primary purpose of the Incarnation, Birth, life, Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus is for our eternal salvation. The name Jesus actually means Savior. The Archangel Gabriel told Mary: His name is Jesus because He will save the people from their sins.
Therefore, it is up to each and every one of us individually to make a concerted effort to prepare for Christmas—the birthday of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How can we do this? We will offer ten brief, concrete, and practical steps we can take so that Jesus will be born not only in the stable of Bethlehem, but also in the very depths of your heart.
1. CLEAN THE STABLE OF YOUR HEART. Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas, is a very propitious time to clean our heart, mind, soul and total being by means of making a good Sacramental Confession. Sin sullies or dirties the inner beauty of our soul; a good sacramental confession sweeps out the dirt and makes us clean. The Prophet Isaiah expresses this clearly: Though your sins be as scarlet they will be made white as the snow. (Is. 1)
2. Strive to cultivate a silent and recollected heart. Try to avoid all unnecessary noise. When we have moments of silence it is then that God’s Holy Spirit can speak to us, give us certain lights or insights, and send heavenly inspirations. In a world filled with so much noise—you might even call it Noise-pollution—we really need more silence. Blessed Pope Paul VI in one of his reflections for the Christmas Season states that the Holy Family prayed, worked, and appreciated silence. So should we!
3. MORE FREQUENT AND FERVENT PRAYER. Saint Paul states that we should pray constantly and give thanks to God in our hearts. Jesus also said that it is necessary to pray always without giving up hope. (Lk. 18:1) However, offering fervent and frequent prayers is even more necessary in the strong seasons of the year—both Advent and Lent. Set aside more time to talk to the Lord, Mary, and Saint Joseph in the depths of your heart.
4. GOOD MOVIES: A CHRISTMAS CAROL. To set the stage for a fruitful Christmas viewing a good movie or two can be exceedingly fruitful. One of the greatest classics is a movie that came from a novel written by the great English novelist Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
5. JOY IN GIVING MORE THAN HAVING. The essential message of A Christmas Carol is that true joy can only be attained inasmuch as we learn the art of giving freely, generously, and continually to others. Scrooge lived a really miserable life until he dreamed of his mortality—one day he would surely die – which rocked his comfortable and materialistic existence. Let us seek out ways that we can give to others, especially those most in need. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta asserted: Give until it hurts!
6. LIVE OUT THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS IN YOUR LIFE. In a real sense, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a daily Christmas. How you might ask? Very simply: the priest consecrates the Host which is transformed into Jesus. He is really born in the hands of the priest. Then, when you approach to receive Holy Communion with a pure and loving heart, Jesus is born in your heart. Your soul becomes a real Bethlehem—House of Bread. Therefore, try to attend Holy Mass as often as possible and let Jesus be born in your heart in the worthy reception of Holy Communion.
7. VISIT THE POOR, THE AGED, THE SICK, AND THE ABANDONED. Living out the Gospel of love is a perennial task. However, to really live out Advent to the fullest extent possible and experience the joy of the Lord Jesus born in Bethlehem, we should seek out helping those in our society who suffer most. Remember the words of Jesus: Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you have done to me.
8. RECONCILE! The great English poet Alexander Pope wrote: To err is human, to forgive is divine. Christmas is not a time in which we should be at enmity with others, especially members of our own family. Two of the most difficult but important phrases that should issue from our hearts and lips are: I am sorry… and… I forgive you!!! If you are angry, resentful, bitter, and even hateful towards anybody, now is the time to reconcile. Be humble! Take the initiative and reconcile. Even though possibly very difficult, this gesture of reconciliation is very pleasing to God and will fill your heart with a deep peace that maybe you have not experienced in years!
9. KIND WORDS: CONDIMENT YOUR SPEECH! In our social dealings one of the most important things we can do is to be kind to others. Get into the habit of saying kind words to others, especially to your family members. A compliment, a thanks, a word or two of encouragement—all of these can change a sad and desolate heart into one of joy and exultation! Remember the Golden Rule and apply it to your speech: Do to others what you want them to do to you… say to others what you would like them to say to you!
10. MOTHER MARY AND CHRISTMAS. Of course, Christmas would not have taken place if it were not for the generous YES OF MARY! Stay close to Mary. Pray the Rosary, especially the Joyful Mysteries. Accompany Mary in her journey to Bethlehem. Be with her in the stable as she brings forth Jesus for your salvation. Place Mary in Advent and Christmas and Jesus will be born in the depths of your heart.