Saturday, December 05, 2015

Father James Martin: How to Avoid Christmas Stress: No, Less, Yes.

(Thanks to Jesuit Father James Martin for this reflection, which was one of his Facebook posts)

Can I make a confession? I’m starting to dislike Christmas. Before you ask me to hand in my collar, let me clarify.

When I say “Christmas” I mean the unpleasant cultural trappings that have almost suffocated the holiday: overheated stores packed with stressed-out shoppers; the pressure people feel to buy, buy, buy; and the endless commercials that make the season feel more about spending money than about anything else.

Is it possible to set aside the unhealthy aspects of Christmas and focus on the Nativity of Our Lord?

Yes, and let me suggest three ways to do so.
  • First, just say no. You don’t have to go to every party, send a card to every friend, or buy a gift for every family member. Saying no to one thing (a party) means saying yes to something else (time to pray).
  • Second, just say less. Try sending three-quarters as many cards or buying half the gifts you did last year.
  • Third, just say yes. Choose events that are more spiritual (church services, lessons, and carols) as a way to nourish yourself and prepare for the real Christmas.
Overall, it’s important to pull back from the craziness and to carve out more time for prayer during the Advent and Christmas season. Happily, the beautiful readings of Advent easily invite us to prayer.

Christ wants to enter into your life in a new way during these holy weeks. But if you’re in a store listening to two people fight over a video game, you may not hear him.

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