It’s that time of the year again when we decorate the Christmas tree and the house takes on a winter wonderland feel.
At Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, the seminarians did their best to decorate hallways and public rooms and get into the Christmas spirit. One hallway even put up stockings for each faculty member. Guess who had the small stocking?
Luke and Jason went the extra mile and made a ginger bread cathedral from scratch.
This edible cathedral was a real work of art. It made me think about how Christmas decorations can be helpful in putting us in a “Holy day” mood. At the same time, it made me realize that if we lose focus of the religious nature of this Advent season, the decorations become a distraction to the purpose of Christ’s coming. I don’t want to dampen the holiday spirit by cautioning against decorating. I want to highlight the focus of all we’re doing, so that even decorating your family’s home can become a prayer.
Did you know the Christmas tree (the ever green) was used to encourage pagans to see how the pointy tree top gives us a direction to the truth – God in Heaven. The Christmas star, tinsel, and Christmas cards all have deep spiritual and religious significance.
Despite the expensive, and at times frustrating, task of putting up decorations, the best way that we can prepare for Christmas is by making sure we are preparing our home for Jesus as the guest of honor. Preparing our homes for Christ requires us to prepare our hearts for Him. These Mount St. Mary’s students, despite their busy exam week, made sure to take time for prayer, receiving Christ, and preparing for Christmas in the chapel; not the shopping mall!
In this holiday season, we have to ask ourselves if we let church and personal prayer take a back seat to Christmas preparations. When considering your preparations for Christmas, be sure to take a cue from those who celebrated Christmas for the first time. Consider how the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph prepared for the miracle of birth. Meditate and pray about how you prepare your home for Christmas and you may see that Christ prefers the humble stable of Bethlehem to tinsel and light decorations. Take time and celebrate the seasonal liturgies with sincere faith and you’ll hear how a silent night is preferred over the din of overplayed Santa songs. And, if you really take St. Nicholas seriously by praying with that saint, you’ll understand how through prayer we can become like saints.
As you and your family prepare your home for Christmas, don’t start with a tree or tinsel. Start with the most important home you can offer Jesus: your pure heart.
Mushroom-stuffed Double-thick Pork Chops
Cooking in stages can create a memorable meal, while giving you peace of mind about cooking a lot of food quickly during this busy season. Here’s a meal you may want to consider for a big holiday party. It begins with asking your butcher to create a pocket in the pork chop so that you can stuff it. Then, you simply brine the meat over night. After you stuff the chops, it’s only a matter of minutes before you have a perfectly succulent meal. Please click here for the recipe.
Slow Down and Pray
Here’s a prayer from a great website to bless your Christmas tree and help you and your family enjoy the holidays as true Holy days!
Holy Lord,We come with joy to celebrate the birth of your Son, who rescued us from the darkness of sin by making the Cross a tree of life and light.
May this tree, arrayed in splendor, remind us of the life-giving Cross of Christ, that we may always rejoice in the new life that shines in our hearts. We ask this through Christ our Lord.Amen.
Ask Fr. Leo for fatherly advice.Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.
Please forward Fr. Leo’s weekly email blast to anyone you think would benefit. If you haven’tsigned up for the Food for the Body, Food for the Soul weekly email blast, go here and register now. Also please visit our blog. weekly to stay up