By Susan Ciancio
She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7
One of my favorite things to watch before Christmas is a video of Josh Groban’s rendition of “O Holy Night” set to some of the scenes from a movie called The Nativity Story. Though I have never seen the movie, this stirring video brings tears of joy to my eyes every time I see it. If you have never seen the video, I encourage you to look it up on YouTube. It’s incredibly moving. One of the things that really strikes me is the look of pure love on St. Joseph’s face as he holds up Baby Jesus. This baby is the true meaning of Christmas. And this pure love is what we should all strive to feel when we look at that baby.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in everything that leads to the Christmas holidays—traveling, gift buying, baking, and family get togethers. While these things are wonderful, we must be careful and not allow them to overshadow our understanding of and attention to the impending birth of Christ.
Taking time during Advent to silence the world and allow God to enter our hearts is of paramount importance. Truly focusing on what God gave the world when He gave His Son is more important than shopping, baking, and decorating. These things have their place, but just as there was no room in the inn for the Holy Family, if we give these worldly things primary importance, we will have no room in our hearts and lives for Christ. Christmas will become just another holiday, and it will be gone before we know it, leaving us a little poorer financially and maybe even poorer spiritually.
We have heard it said many times that Christ is the true gift at Christmas. Indeed He is. But how much do we contemplate this gift? We devote time to all the preparation leading up to Christmas, but do we devote time every day to thinking about God’s gift of His Son?
We know that it can be difficult to silence your phones, turn off social media, calm the kids, and reflect on the coming of Christ. But imagine how wonderful this Advent season will be if you do just that. Advent is a time of reflection and anticipation of the Christ who became incarnate, who healed the sick, who taught us a new way of life, and who then freed us from our sins by dying an inhumane death.
He atoned for our sins when we could not do so ourselves. He gave us a chance for a new life with Him and in Him. Let us rejoice at this immense gift! And let us thank Him by preparing ourselves to receive this gift.
Last year, the Culture of Life Studies Program created an Advent reflection booklet to help you and your family use the fruits of the Holy Spirit to grow closer to Christ during the time leading up to Christmas. Because so many people loved our booklet, we decided to create a new one for this Advent.
Our new booklet will walk you through Advent with the lives of the saints and with words of wisdom from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each day, we offer teaching from the Catechism and a short reflection on that teaching. Then we examine the life of a saint who lived out that teaching. Finally, we offer a way for you to use that saint’s example to build a culture of life in your home or community and provide concrete examples for what you can do.
The time leading up to Christmas is exciting! But let us make room in our days for Christ. Let us make room for quiet contemplation, for Godly examples from holy men and women, and for reflection on the faith that Christ gave us when He became human.
History tells us that there was no room for Christ and His parents at the inn. Let us make room for Christ in our hearts and lives this Advent. Only then will we understand the true meaning of Christmas.
To order our Advent booklet, visit shop.all.org/collections/culture-of-life-studies-program/products/advent-reflections-2023-download.