Preparing for Christmas

The Advent Season

The Church year begins as the worldly year ends. The Church waits in silent expectation for the great feast of Christmas while the world goes about its preparation by feverish activity and an ever increasing “busy-ness”. The Church encourages her children to acts of mortification so that they may have a  better prayer life, while the world pushes for more “Christmas spirit” through more and more bodily pleasures through eating, drink, music and any other means.

As in all things, the Church is “not of this world”. Though many things of a spiritual nature find an echo in nature – since God has designed both – the fallen nature of man is diametrically opposed to the spiritual. Is it any surprise that the Church’s preparation for Christmas should be quite contrary to that of the world?

Though the Church does not decree a 40 day fast as She does for Lent, still She wishes us to enter deeply into a spirit of prayer and self-denial. While we may not have the benefit of being in a monastery or religious house like so many saints in the past, we can certainly make some changes to our daily routine to accommodate this spirit. One such means is daily spiritual reading.

Spiritual Reading

Spiritual reading should be done every day, not just during Advent and Lent. It is almost impossible in our day to make any spiritual progress, or to do what is necessary to  preserve sanctifying grace  in our soul without the aid of spiritual reading. Our minds need to be filled with good thoughts, spiritual lessons, high standards, moral guidance – truth. We get only the opposite from the world around us.

“When we pray, we speak to God; when we read, God speaks to us.” Who could be so arrogant as to believe that there is no need for guidance from God, His Church and the Saints? Who could be so proud as to consider himself able to withstand the spiritual and moral assault that surrounds us without having recourse to instruction? It would be easier to be dropped in the middle of a great dessert with no food, water or directions than to be in this world and guided only by our own thoughts and inclinations.

Let it be a resolution of this new Church year to put greater emphasis on spiritual reading. Such a resolution will be greatly blessed by God if we keep to it.

For the season  of Advent, I will be putting up excerpts from the excellent work, The Liturgical Year, by Dom Gueranger. These readings will contain the epistle and gospel for each mass for the Advent season with a brief commentary by Dom Gueranger. This series of books has greatly helped me in the past to enter more and more into the spirit of the Church and to understand a great deal about her history and tradition and I highly encourage them.

Remember how the conversion of the great St. Augustine came about through a brief reading of Sacred Scripture, and  consider how much good would have been left undone if he had resisted the inspiration to take up that book and read.

What great good is being left undone by my own neglect of spiritual reading?