Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Meditation on Christmas Lights

As I was driving home in the dark last night from choir rehearsal, I was noticing the darkness. I saw the beautiful, lighted tree on the roof of the medical buildings near my home and thinking about how happy the lights make me. Is it because it's so dark out and I don't drive much at night? Or is it because they remind me that Christmas is near?

This past week I've been struggling. I'm struggling with my prayer life, trying to get into the habit again. It always falls apart on vacation.

I'm struggling with trying to bring the Christmas spirit into our home where the younger children all have huge lists of things they want. No talk of what to do for others or give to others. Except that one sweet child did point out a perfect present for me, and he was right!

So, as I was driving home, praying the rosary, and thinking about the lights in the darkness, it occurred to me that Christmas lights and decorations have become a huge business. Every year, it seems that the Christmas section at Target grows. The light display gets more attention than almost anything else. Are we putting on such a grand display outside our homes because we are joyously anticipating the coming of Christ and His birthday? Or do the lights illustrate the darkness in our hearts? Do the displays get grander every year because the world is darker and our hearts are farther from the Lord?

Is everyone seeking The Light, but looking for it here:

Instead of here:

I'm certainly not criticizing anyone for decorating outside and celebrating Christmas. I do it myself. We'll pull out the lights on the 3rd Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday. The children enjoy it, but there's no way we'll ever be able to compete with the Joneses, if it's a competition. We just don't have the desire to climb on ladders and string lights on our very high roofline. Or the desire to spend the money on it!

Christmas lights seem to have lost their meaning. I thought the tradition was a candle in the window to light the way for the Christ child? (I'm not researching links this a.m.---does anyone know?) Then there were lights in all the windows. Now the whole house is illuminated! The whole neighborhood!

But putting up all those lights outside won't dispel the darkness in my heart. That will only happen through prayer and reception of the sacraments. Confession and penitence are an important part of Advent and preparation for Christ's coming. We give up things for Lent (when the priests are wearing purple), but we forget to do it during Advent (that's why they're wearing purple again! It's a penitential season!). Yes, we give up plenty of $$$ during Advent, but it's probably not bringing us closer to God.

So, even though we're late starting, we'll be saying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer every day until Christmas to remind us what we'll be celebrating starting December 25.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.


  1. I know exactly what you mean, but I think it goes deeper than lights. It is filling ourselves with rich foods, buying ridiculous gifts, and celebrating as though it were Christmas already. If we don't take the quiet time of Advent to do penance and prepare, we miss out on the real celebrations. There is no Christmas without Advent.

    I wrote about this myself a few days ago. I have a tendency to get on this soap box each year at this time...

  2. You make a vital point. Catholic culture is fading in most quarters because of lack of faith. I was thinking that the big three -- faith, hope and love are a progression. Faith begins in prayer (I too struggle.) and, when prayer is regular (even if "dry"), it nurtures hope which leads to love, the grace-filled, supernatural love, not the lusts of the world that masquerade as love. Advent is such the perfect time to re-attach to silence, to be much as I like to socialize, I hope in this next season of my life, I might inspire others to be quiet with God, in public, in prayer...just like what you all are doing 2nite at the 2 two hearts vigil -- Love in Christ, SS


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