How to Dress Up for Christmas: A Spiritual Guide

Prepare your heart for Jesus’ coming on Christmas.

I could barely see his wide eyes through the gap between his hat and scarf.  They had a look that pleaded, “Please, can we get back in the car?”  My three year old was bundled with so many layers he could hardly move.

No, he couldn’t move at all.  Because even with all those layers, he was frozen in place.

I scooped him up and trotted to catch up with my husband.  He carried the one year old who had snot covering her from her nose down to the collar of her jacket.

“How do you like this–”

“Great. Perfect. Cut it down.  Let’s get this over with,” I interrupted.  Cut-your-own Christmas tree in 10 degree weather is  no fun.

Remember when we were kids and December was the most joyful, magical, exciting month of the year?  When did preparing for Christmas become so… dull.  ordinary.  a chore.

Our to-do lists are so full of physical preparations, we lose that special feeling.  How can we put the joy back into this season?

By taking the time to prepare our hearts for the moment our God became one of us.

Take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name. Baruch 5:1-2

Jesus, teach me how to prepare my heart for Your coming.

I’ve covered my home in garland and lights.  Our gingerbread house is outfitted in green gumdrops and red striped candy canes.  My dress is cleaned and pressed for the upcoming Christmas Eve party.

But my heart is shrouded in a drab, reluctant spirit.

Take off Your robe of Mourning and Misery

I need to remove the robe of mourning and misery from my soul.  What other reason would my soul be in mourning than for my sins?  Now is the time to turn to You for forgiveness.  To go to confession, shrug my sins and failings from my shoulders, and let You wash them away.

I also need to put off the envy and unforgiving attitudes I have been holding on to this year.  Lord, help me leave behind any resentments that I have towards others.

Once I cast off my sins, failings, and hardness of heart, I am ready to dress my soul for the occasion.

Join me: If you haven’t been to confession yet this Advent, do it now.  Look up the schedule at your local parish and mark the times on your calendar.  Let the weight fall from your shoulders. 

Lighten your load to make room for joy!

Put on the Splendor of the Glory of God

Lord God, what is the splendor of Your glory?  What part of Your majesty do You wish to reflect in my life?

St. Ambrose says, “glory consists in being known and well praised.”  My job this Advent is to know and praise You more.

My Jesus, help me look for opportunities to read about You.  Help me find more time to talk to You, to pray.  I want to see You in the world around me and in my neighbor.  I want to be brave enough to thank You, out loud, for Your blessings.

Christmas music (real Christmas music… about You, Jesus… not reindeer and snowmen and cozy fires) gives me a great opportunity to praise You.  I want to lift my heart to You through song.

Help me remember to praise and thank You for the gift of Your Incarnation.

Join me: Try some of these prayers to praise God in the midst of your Advent traditions:

Wrap Yourself in the Cloak of Justice From God

Lord, I must wrap myself in the cloak of justice from God.  

St. Thomas Aquinas says there are two kinds of justice: the first is “mutual giving and receiving,” and the second is “distribution.”  He says the first kind of justice is not of You, God.  But that’s what we see so much of this season: gift exchange.

Rather, Aquinas says “distributive” justice is Your justice.  He says You are like the King who gives each of Your subjects what we deserve, and keeps creation in order.  So I must be a worthy servant of Yours.  I must seek Your will.  Pray before I act.  Make You the goal and center of my life, above all other things.  I must strive to be a trusted servant on whom You wish to pour out Your blessings, to give me that which I deserve.

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Aquinas also says distributive justice must exist within the family.  It is a generous kind of justice.  I must deny my wants, my impatience, my idle desires, to give my children the loving peaceful home they deserve.  I must strive to be an example of Your perfect justice so my children learn they can always trust You in their need.

Jesus, help me increase the justice of God in my home as we prepare for Your coming.

Join me: Yes, we can still buy gifts.  But let’s make sure to give our families what they really need this year: the gift of justice in the home.  Happy, healthy, secure family life.  Also, check out this wants vs needs post from YellowPelican while you finish up your gift shopping.

Put on the Mitre that Displays the Glory of the Eternal Name

Finally, I must put on the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name.

St. Thomas Aquinas says eternity is defined as “the simultaneously-whole and perfect possession of interminable life.”  Let’s use this definition to help us understand what “eternal name” means… so Your eternal name is the name which perfectly possesses the wholeness – the epitome – of life without beginning or end.

Baruch says I may share in this life.  He says I must put on the mitre – I must visibly let the world know that I am a part of Your Royal Family.  I must wear the crown like a child of the King.  Who better to know and praise Your eternal name than Your own child?  And even though I had a beginning to my life, I know that You knew and loved me before then.  And at the end of my life, You wish me to join You in Heaven and live on in Your love forever.

The mitre of the glory of Your eternal name is my acceptance of and witness to Your eternal Kingship, my God.  The joy of my life is You.  My crowning victory is to get to Heaven.

My Jesus, help me remember my true goal, and be brave enough to let the whole world see.

Join me: Let’s show the world we are children of the King.  Let our faith shine out during Advent:

  • buy Christmas instead of holiday cards
  • share your faith on social media: post pictures of your advent wreath or nativity scene
  • say “Merry Christmas” to strangers in the store
  • invite a friend to Christmas Mass

It doesn’t matter what our homes look like.

During Advent, it’s more important what our hearts look like.

So turn your back on your chores for a few minutes.  Bask in the twinkling glow of that evergreen tree you lugged in your house and painstakingly decorated.

Come in out of the cold of indifference, and warm yourself by the fire of God’s love.  Feel the stress of the holiday frenzy melt away as it is replaced by a new focus: preparing your heart for Jesus’ coming this Christmas.

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