On the Struggle to make Christmas a Season and not just a day…

IMG_1467Our secular holiday celebrations and understanding of Christmas leaves a lot to be desired when contrasted with the traditional Catholic celebrations and understandings. As maturing Catholics, we are called to struggle at discerning and living out Christmas in a Gospel manner rather than a secular manner. Major differences regarding time, specifically when and how long to celebrate Christmas can seemingly complicate one’s goal of trying to live a holy and Catholic holiday season.

 

For some, in reality Christmas only lasts a single day; the notion of it being a season is simply foreign. Those of this mindset may dismiss or deem unimportant the preparation for and build up to Christmas and its afterglow as mere formalities in light of the real celebration on Christmas Day. Many Catholics, despite appreciating and acknowledging the pre and post Christmas periods of Advent and the Christmas Season found in the Church, for whatever reason – work, family, bereavement, etc. – still find themselves in real time “living out” Christmas as if the celebration is only about that single day. What can a Strugglin’ Catholic do to stretch their sense of time?

 

One strugglin’ to appreciate Christmas time as a season needs to look no further than her own memories of childhood and the great Christmas’ of her past to prayerfully stretch and lengthen her present sense of the season. By prayerfully and re-imagining and re-experiencing these memories anew she can, by grace, draw out and on her past experiences of faith and advent hope to transform and empower her present holiday struggle regarding time….

 

Another tool for the Strugglin’ Catholic is to prayerfully reflect on one’s life and its hurriedness in light of the holy Family’s hurriedness, poverty and instability: unexpectedly giving birth out of town while at a census, becoming refugees and fleeing to Egypt in response to Joseph’s dream and not returning home after the census, eventually returning home to settle in Nazareth a few years later… In light of the holy Family, we may by grace, arrive a place of gratitude and praise for the current Strugglin’ Christmas season and stop one’s complaining about it in one’s prayer…

 

Wherever you find yourself this Christmas time, our prayer for you here at the Strugglin’Catholic.com is that by God’s grace, your preparations, celebrations and post Christmas afterglow will draw forth from your heart an extended appreciation and celebration of this sacred season. Our prayer is that you may give the specific graces needed to empower others on their journey this Christmas season and that you may receive the graces needed to start 2016 as God desires.

Author: P. J. West, Jr.

Paul J. West Jr. is a cradle Catholic and native Chicagoan who has ministered in Catholic Schools, parishes and hospitals for over two decades. His current ministries are focused on both hospital chaplaincy and writing. Prior to this, he ministered as an educator for almost twenty five years teaching religion, scripture, philosophy and ethics at four Chicago area high schools and adults at the Chicago Catholic Scripture School. His parish ministry has included preaching, teaching, writing and serving as a Eucharistic minister. Mr. West, who is native south sider, has been married for almost 30 years to Dr. Joy West. They have raised four beautiful daughters who are all hardcore Bears and White Sox fans!!!!

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