Christmas relentlessly approaches; no faster than the clock permits, though we all know that the perceived speed of the clock varies relative to our activities. Thus for me it seems to be coming up too quickly with too little preparation.
The most significant ‘preparedness’ one ought to have is that of the soul – being ready to receive the Christ into ones heart, full of nothing for Him there but love. What pull us away from that sometimes are the external things: Decorating, writing cards, running through lists of names and hoping that we didn’t forget to acquire gifts for any of them.
Some of us worry not about preparing for Christ and others, so much as wishing to slow down the clock and speed up our actions so as to do the Everything we desire to complete. There can be a temptation to boil everything down to the ‘what I want to do’, and although externally we could seem to be accomplishing things for others, it turns to having the focus on ourselves.
It is good to ask ‘Why’. Why am I doing this? Why do I want to do this? Because not only the actions themselves but also the intentions are required for a thing to be spiritually meritorious or sinful, we should know ‘Why’.
Why do we want to perfect ourselves and give that a particular focus during Advent? For the sake of reaching a personal goal, or because it is a good thing which has eternal merit? Because it is pleasing to God?
Why do we prepare for Christmas with all these physical things – decorations, gifts, etc?
To our society in general Christmas is nothing more than a party and marketing racket which begins in mid-September and by the time it concludes with the New Year, everyone is sick of it. For Christians, it is a celebration of the Birth of the Redeemer which begins the day the worldly party ends.
Are we trying to do so many things because it is custom, or because we want to celebrate our Saviour’s entry into the world with these things as well as having a soul and heart prepared?
We should take the words of Bishop Sheen to heart:
“How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You can not find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely let Christ be formed in you.