The Christmas season can be a time of distraction for many of us if we permit ourselves to put our mind too much on “what it is we want” rather than “what we have to offer.” Do not get me wrong, I, too, love Christmas gift giving, but let us recall the words of St. Margaret Mary, “The Giver is always greater than the gifts.” The Giver is Jesus, and he wants not only to provide for us and bless us but to change us and assist us progress in holiness so we can be with him for all eternity in heaven!
What could be a better theme for this Advent than to seek the giver rather than just his blessings? The bearer of this message, a saint who lived in a cloistered convent in France during the late 17th century, had a tremendous mission, to make known and share the devotion to the Sacred Heart.
St. Margaret Mary writes in her diary: “He is more precious than all His gifts. But of these gifts that of His pure love surpasses all the others.” St. Margaret Mary goes on to tell us that we are called to love God with our whole being and hold nothing back from him.
True happiness does not come from more self-love, but less. When we are open to a heart transplant that only Jesus can offer, we will discover true Christian joy. St. Margaret Mary says that “our damnable self-love is a poison which ruins everything.” We must learn to give all our self-loving tendencies to Christ and allow him to lead us and mold us. The gifts under a Christmas tree will never bring us real joy unless we can appreciate the giver and all he provides every day of our lives.
Here are some practical suggestions for growing in our faith and not allowing self-love to poison our lives and the life of our family!
The Enthronement to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Consider enthroning your home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This Christian ceremony is when a family welcomes Christ as king, savior, and friend in your heart and home. This powerful spiritual gift will not only change your family, but give you a new focus in the coming years. This devotion is linked to the Promises of the Sacred Heart, in which Jesus says, “I will bless the homes where my image is exposed and honored.”
Rekindling family prayer and family mealtime
As the old Nike commercial used to say, “Just do it.” This slogan is also true with family prayer! Just start today and start by taking toddler steps toward family transformation. Start with a family prayer at meals. When we take time to thank God and enjoy a meal together it is a privilege for sharing memories and discussing life events. Another way to rekindle family prayer time is to share prayer intentions or say the beautiful prayer of the holy rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. For some families they enjoy praying along with prayer apps like the prayers found at RelevantRadio.com. These prayers can be a wonderful blessing.
Sunday morning reset
Permit this Advent to be a time to evaluate your Sunday morning routine. Set a time that your family goes to Mass and make it your goal to go together. If you struggle with attending Mass each week, consider making this a goal during Advent. When we skip Mass, we are the ones who suffer, for Christ is offering us his body and blood for our spiritual strength. This message is also important for our teenagers. If children live in your house, consider making this part of your weekly criteria as parents. Advent is a wonderful season for starting fresh!
Ask Jesus for a heart transplant of love
The only way we can be a holy witness in this world is by the love that burns in our own heart, yet we cannot give what we do not have. Jesus told St. Margaret Mary, “Behold this Heart, which has loved so much but has received nothing but coldness, indifference, and ingratitude in return.”
Ask Jesus for a heart transplant to assist you to love Christ and others in a new way. When we permit Christ into our life and learn to offer up our daily trials, we can allow our joys, sufferings, and humiliations to be a gift to the Lord! True Christian charity glorifies God and is a gift to others. A greater capacity to love yourself and others is a life-changing gift.
Practice “I am third”
Put Christ first, others second, and yourself third. I learned this slogan as a small child at summer camp, but often I reflect on this motto. Consider permitting Advent to be a time to renew your friendships first with Christ and then others. When we practice “I am third” it makes available an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to give you new vision to want to serve others and learn how not to be selfish. We are following the instances of Christ when we extend God’s mercy to others.
Each of these recommendations is a lifeline to get yourself and your family back on track during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The Giver is always more fabulous than his gifts. If we teach this lesson to our children and other family members and practice it everyday, we will experience the beauty and joy of Christmas morning each day of the year.