It is too easy to get caught up in all the excitement over presents and entirely miss the “reason for the season.”
Oddly enough one of the hardest days of the year to keep holy is Christmas day. While it is a joyous day to spend with family, it is very difficult to remember that it is in fact a “holy day” as well as a “holiday.” It is too easy to get caught up in all the excitement over presents and entirely miss the “reason for the season.”
To help balance the day and remain mindful of the solemnity of the event of Christ’s birth, here are three simple ways to sanctify Christmas day and keep your soul focused on the “Christ” in Christmas.
Don’t forget the “Mass” in Christmas
This may seem obvious, but it is worth repeating. Attending Mass the night before or on the morning of Christmas is a refreshing way to remain focused on the actual event that is celebrated. The Church fills us with beautiful readings and images that recall the sacred night that happened over two-thousand years ago and teaches us that Christmas is much more than presents and parties. By going to Mass we offer to God our very selves in the sacrifice on the altar and accept his greatest gift to us, the Holy Eucharist.
In fact, the celebration of Mass is very much like that first Christmas Day when Christ came down from Heaven to dwell among us as a child. During Mass, he comes down to us in the form of bread and wine and desires to dwell not in a manger, but within our hearts.
After attending Mass it is beneficial to kneel down before the manager scene in the church and take a few moments to pray. This helps set the tone for the rest of Christmas and allows us a moment to gaze at the Christ Child.
Begin the day in solitude and prayer
A second way that helps foster a spirit of prayer on Christmas Day is to wake up before the children and sit in the quiet. In Psalm 46:10 we find God speaking to us, saying, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We all know that once the children wake up, chaos often ensues. This is why it is good to be deliberate and start Christmas Day in that “inner room” of silence and prayer, focusing your attention on Christ and his birthday.
Whatever you are able to do (it can be as little as 5-10 minutes of silent prayer), pausing in the morning will allow you to “seize the day” before the busyness of Christmas begins.
End the day in solitude and prayer
The beginning and end of the day are often referred to as the “bookends.” What happens during those two bookends is often uncontrollable and finding a moment to breathe can be difficult. That is why it is always beneficial to end the day in the same way you started it: in silence and solitude.
Besides dwelling upon the Christ-Child and turning your thoughts to God, it is a good idea on Christmas Day to “count your blessings.” Bing Crosby put it best in the classic White Christmas movie that is a favorite of many around this time of year.
Christmas is a beautiful day for many reasons, and so ending the day in thanksgiving is a great way to maintain the spirit of Christmas and focus your attention on God and being thankful for what you have instead pouring yourself into the numerous gifts or gadgets you received.
In the end, these ways may seem very simple and obvious, but sometimes we try too hard and fail in the process. Sanctifying Christmas Day doesn’t have to be a big orchestrated event where everyone is forced to pray all the mysteries of the rosary before opening presents. Instead, it may be more beneficial to imitate the simplicity and humility of Christ’s birth and do little things with great love.
Christ did not come into the world in the midst of fanfare or a light show. He came in the middle of the night, into the quiet. That is where we will find Jesus on Christmas Day.