Carrying Baby Jesus into Christmas Mass

Dust off the cameras and projectors, pull out the forgotten chairs, and unpack several dozen more sleeves of wafers: Christmas is almost here! With Christmas comes the perhaps temporary, reverse diaspora of many of God’s people.

Time to shake off the dust to let the Light shine through ourselves. We’ve been preparing for this, friends!

Sometimes Advent feels more like a rat race through increased traffic and higher credit card bills than a time of preparation for the coming of our Savior. I have filled too many of my adulthood Advents with inconsequential priorities that stomp out the importance of the season until Christmas Eve arrives.

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Even on Christmas Eve I have found myself frustrated that my family must be dressed and in the car almost two hours before Mass begins in order to secure a seat. These “fair weather” attendees make me feel crowded, I’m ashamed to say I have thought.

This is the opposite attitude I should have when celebrating the birth of the Christ who came to save all of us.

This year, in an effort to pump up my prayer life, I will welcome the claustrophobia as the opportunity it is! There I will be, facing a packed room of new people to speak to!

Consider taking this twice-a-year chance to meet these new people. They might consider coming to Mass more often if they found a sense of community at church and it’s our job to introduce them to it.

Imagine what it must be like to walk into church for the first time in nine months, picking a seat surrounded by silence on a day signified by joy. It would be hard to muster the courage to reach out at your premiere Mass — and sometimes the second opportunity doesn’t come. Let’s talk to them now.

The second reading for the Solemnity for the Nativity of the Lord’s Mass at Dawn should be inspiration for this and for our next challenge. St. Paul (presumably) speaks to Titus:

When the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,
He saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life.(Emphasis added)

We are heirs, with duties passed on to us by a Loving God who wishes to send us into the spiritual fray, reaching more of His children.

The additional challenge the Catholic Sistas originally extended to “end Advent on a high note” involves taking a chisel (or a chainsaw, depending) to that shell of yours: invite friends to Mass.

Invite your friends to Christmas Mass. Don’t just invite your church friends to share the row with you. Invite the Catholic friends who haven’t gone in months. Invite the non-Catholic friends. Invite the people with whom you’ve never discussed religion.

This doesn’t mean you stash a squirt-bottle of holy water in your coat pocket, waiting for the optimal surprise baptism moment. It means you ask a friend to join you in an activity you enjoy and about which you are passionate.

Consider it the inspirational deed that it is, introducing someone to the Love and community you provide as a friend.

"Baby Jesus" by Jennifer Hickey

If this seems too intimidating a task, remember Jesus as He was as an infant.

A few weeks ago my confessor asked me to reflect on Jesus as a baby. He suggested I concentrate on Jesus as a tiny child, staring up at me from the manger where he lays. He told me to nurture Him, love Him, and protect Him within me.

Obviously, this priest knows that Jesus is my Savior, not the other way around, so why would I need to visualize myself taking care of the Man who died for my sins? Because I am a vessel by which others might meet Him.

We receive Him in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we learn more about Him in the Liturgy of the Word and we go forth at the closing prayer, better prepared to carry this baby Jesus into the arms of others.

This is our Advent resolution: Live Christmas.

Elizabeth Hillgrove is a young cradle Catholic who grew up in a tight-knit, if not absurdly close family in the tiny Catholic world of Virginia. After a few divots and detours into apathy, embarrassment, and a vested political interest, Jesus Christ jump-started her faith life. Elizabeth has researched her way into a passion for bringing the simple, fulfilling Truth to youth and young adults, especially females. A recovering tomboy, Elizabeth will challenge you on the field, in the pool, on a trek up a mountain, or in the art studio. Game on. She is one of the three Bright Maidens and her website is Startling the Day.
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