Taking care of yourself in the right ways is part of readying to receive the Christ Child.
On December 16, we are nine days before Christmas, meaning it is time to begin the Christmas novena.
What is a novena?
Because we human beings are a body-soul unity, the preparation of our souls goes hand in hand with the preparation of our bodies, including what we need to be mentally healthy and thus ready to receive the Christ Child.
As we pray the prayers of the Novena, including the “O Antiphons,” let us also take a bit of time for self-care.
Defining self-care in spiritual terms
December 16. Behold, the King will come, the Lord of the earth, and He will remove from us the yoke of our captivity.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to truly rest, focusing your attention on relaxing your body muscle by muscle.
December 17. O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly, Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to read the writings of a favorite saint, and allow his or her wisdom and holiness of perspective to shift your outlook.
December 18. O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with outstretched arm.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to make a list of times when God has reached out to you, either in prayer or through the help of those around you.
December 19. O Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kinds shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to walk outside, even if it means you have to bundle up. The fresh air will clear your thoughts.
December 20. O Key of David, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to write a note to someone you love.
December 21. O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: Come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to listen to sacred music, and consider how God speaks without words. If you don’t have a favorite album, try this classic.
December 22. O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to truly savor a work of sacred art. You could use this slideshow if you don’t have an art book on hand.
December 23. O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God.
Tip: Try to create as much silence today as you can. Shut off as many devices as possible.
December 24. With the rising of the sun, you will soon see the King of kings and Lord of lords, coming forth from His Father, as the bridegroom, from His bridal chamber.
Tip: Take 20 minutes to meditate or journal about what Mary is experiencing today. Use each of your five senses to draw close to her in your imagination.