Over the past few weeks, OSV Newsweekly has offered suggestions of ways to bring less stress and more meaning to Advent (In Focus, Nov. 25), provided tips on how to have an at-home Advent retreat (In Focus, Dec. 2) and encouraged Catholics to “pump up” their devotions this liturgical season (Editorial, Dec. 9). And I’m sure many of our readers have taken those suggestions to heart.
But what if you’re one of the people who meant to make Advent more meaningful, but, somehow, the weeks of Advent have flown by, and you still haven’t managed to find your Advent wreath or have forgotten to keep up with your Advent calendar? And now you’re stressing out because Christmas is nearly upon us, and you haven’t been able to properly reflect on Christ’s coming. Take heart! It’s not too late to find meaning in the season.
Today’s Gospel reading from Luke 1 recounts the Visitation, when Mary traveled to help her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child. Take time to reflect on the reading, and follow that by reading the Christmas story in Chapter 2 of Luke and Chapter 1 of Matthew.
Sing or recite the O Antiphon for today: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God!” The O Antiphons are the ancient verses that accompany the Magnificat canticle of evening prayer from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23.
Do something good for someone else — bake bread for a neighbor who doesn’t have family nearby, call that friend you’ve wanted to catch up with, or take nonperishable items to the parish food bank.
Reflect on the season. One easily accessible resource is “Reasons for Hope,” by Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Ala., whose meditations can be found at http://bit.ly/e3vtyV. Other reflections are at usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/advent/.
If nothing else, say a simple prayer. How about the following:
“Come, Lord Jesus.
“Come, Lord Jesus.
“Come, Lord Jesus, come.”
This week’s In Focus (Pages 9-12) features Christmas stories and poetry submitted by readers. This year, we received more than 40 entries for our 29th annual edition of “Christmas Memories.”
Printing “Christmas Memories” has become a great holiday tradition at Our Sunday Visitor, and it has become something of a tradition for the newsweekly team to gather and choose which stories and poems to include. Once the deadline has passed, team members meet to discuss the stories that made us laugh, the ones that made us cry and the poems that touched us. It is always a tough process, because we know that space is limited.
Even though we could fit in just 20 entries this year, we appreciate all of those who took the time to send in their memories and poems.
And to all of our readers, we wish you a Christmas season filled with peace, love and joy.
Sarah Hayes is OSV presentation editor. Send feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.