Pope Francis in his recent apostolic exhortation Evagelli Gaudium reminds us that this is a season to rejoice… that actually no matter the time of our year or our life, we are always “in season” for rejoicing.
An angel appears unto Mary and the greeting is “Rejoice!” (Lk 1:28). In the Canticle of Mary, she proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:47).
Yet, the burdens of Advent / Christmas planning can get a little overwhelming. The hassle of purchasing presents strains both the wallet as well as one’s generosity. The gluttony of meal and drink available as well social obligations can leave us bloated and worn-out. The constant din of Salvation Army kettle ringers and carols amidst city sidewalks, busy sidewalks can be migraine inducing. Before you need a Whovillian gathering around the tree to make your own Grinchish heart grow three sizes, make some commitments to nurture your own rejoicing spirit.
- Recognize Gifts – OK, so, yeah that new Xbox console is pretty cool, but maintain the attitude of gratitude with which you started this season over Thanksgiving. Look for the grace-filled moments and interactions all around you and count them as gifts and blessings.
- Nourish Your Spirit – Hopefully, you’ve got a little downtime coming your way soon. Plan to fill that time with that which truly gives you joy. That which give you joy is likely that which also gives your energy…
- Listen for Angels – God’s messengers are proclaiming, signing, and guiding kings and shepherds all around us. Maybe you need to find the quiet of the desert to hear them. Maybe you just need to tune into them for clearer reception.
Meanwhile, use this season the spread around some goodness. Be a gift, a spirit-nourisher, and angel for someone else this season. Pope Francis reminds us that Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others.
That sensitivity to the needs of others serves not only our challenge to rejoice always but also to be an agent of the new evangelization.