As I ran errands this week, I noticed the inevitable: stores decorating and displaying Christmas items. The Halloween section was being consolidated, while the Christmas gift wrap was being set up in the very next aisle. Whenever I start to see Christmas coming too early, I get a bit panicky. Suddenly, I feel as if I am behind with the extra to-dos that this season brings. I have to remind myself that I still have an entire month before Advent begins and two months before the actual day of Christmas.
I do like this festive time of year. I just don’t like to rush it. My children are still waiting for Halloween and the sweet fun that holiday brings. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and the focus of gratitude the holiday supplies.
In the liturgical calendar, we are experiencing a time of festivity, too. We anticipate All Saints Day on Sunday and All Souls Day on Monday. We are preparing for the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of our liturgical year, in just a few weeks.
So, the world and the Church are inviting us into this whirlwind of celebration. And yet the two invitations feel very different. The world is saying “Save now; shop early; only XX days until Christmas!” The Church, on the other hand, is focusing our attention on holiness, Heaven, Christ’s Kingship, our Faith.
Romans 12:2 reminds us: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
This time of year is a wonderful time to practice that very idea found in Romans: to live in this world, to be present to our tasks at hand, but to keep our eye on the prize. An eternal perspective of sorts.
The reality is that our to-do list grows longer with Christmas shopping, baking and card writing. And that’s OK! I have even been know to try to check several to-dos off of my list before Thanksgiving, so that Advent feels less rushed and more peaceful. But the extras don’t have to rob us of the gratitude, hope and joy of this time of year. Through God’s grace, we can choose not to get so caught up in the busyness and anxiety that we miss out on what God wants for us at this time of year.
Of course, this is easier said than done. And so, when I feel the tug of the world, I often wonder, “What would Mary do?”
As a woman, a wife and a mom, I wonder how she remained attentive to her duties without letting her to-do list take over her life! Her main focus was always Heaven-bound, and her tasks were done in the light of her yes to God.
Is that the secret? To remain in total alignment with the will of God? Does anxiety rise up when we are doing things that are not God’s will or when we are not working in our charisms?
I don’t begin to have the answers. This is really just my own musing about how Mary lived and worked. How would she respond, in 2015, to all the hustle and bustle?
Blessed Mother Teresa often prayed, “Mary, lend me your heart.” She found this to be a secret to living out her vocation—which must have consisted of a very long to-do list without a lot of modern conveniences—because in Mary’s heart is found the deep-seated dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
In her work, Mother Teresa did not fret either. Rather, she radiated joy and always had a smile to share. “She marveled at the good things God did in her life and in the lives of others, and she pondered the countless loving details arranged by Our Lady” (33 Days to Morning Glory, p. 77). She followed the example of Our Blessed Mother who also pondered in her heart the many ways God worked out the details of her life (Luke 2:19).
Perhaps, as we enter into this special time of year, we can turn to Mary, like Blessed Mother Teresa did, and ask her to lend us her heart, so that we can be more present to God’s plan for our hearts, our families, and our homes during this holiday season.