I read something the other day and I thought I‘d like to pass on this idea to you. A writer suggests; “It is helpful to our spiritual life to spend more than a glancing-moment in our reading of Christmas Cards with their notes of good wishes both printed and hand-written. It is good for our souls also to spend time with the pictures or drawings on those cards and notes. We too quickly look at the signature. Do that first, as is natural, and then again but only after spending time with the card. It will become a prayer and a preparation for Christmas.”
I never thought about that before but it is a good idea. First of all look to see who sent us the card, we read its message and look at the art work. Maybe we’ve become too blasé with Christmas cards, see one, you’ve seen them all. But it’s not so. Some cards are graced with beautiful works of art by the great masters, others can be very simple drawings but beautiful in their very simplicity. But all remind us of the wonderful event we are preparing to celebrate; the awesome truth that God love us so much He sent His Son to us, not to condemn us but to embrace us. We can take the time to read the prayerful and reflective message on the card. It is a form of prayer. Christmas cards are important. Friends took the time to choose, buy and send us the card. They wrote a short or maybe long message. As we read their signature we think of them, remember them and what they mean to us and we thank God we have such friends in our lives.
Many people buy Christmas cards to support different causes, support different charities. Father Bernard is very grateful to all those who bought his Christmas cards in support of our Passionist Missions in the Philippines, West Indies and Haiti. But buying such cards puts us in touch with people whose lives and living conditions are so different than our own. When we read the name of those charities we might take the time to pray for these good people and those who help them.
Two years ago I received a card from a friend in Belfast. She is very much involved in the peace movement in Northern Ireland. The card showed the three wise men following the star to Bethlehem but they couldn’t get to Bethlehem because of the security wall built by the Israelis on Palestinian land. The star was on the other side of the wall beckoning on toward the prince of peace but the wall hinders their journey. There was no message on the card, it spoke for itself. I’ve kept that Christmas card on my desk ever since and every time I look at it I pray for the Palestinian people and for an end of the violence and injustice in the homeland of Christ.
But it is a good thought, a challenging thought that Christmas cards can be occasions of prayer. We usually see this time of year as a hectic time. There are so many things to do getting ready for a day that passes so quickly. Anything that helps us pause and think about what the birth of Christ is all about is a good thing.
This Advent Sunday is known as ‘rejoice’ Sunday. The scriptures call us to rejoice and exult with all our hearts, our God is in our midst, the Lord is near we are not to worry and in the spirit of thanksgiving we let our needs be known to God.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass we pray for ourselves and for each other for the grace to take the time to use such a simple thing as a Christmas card as an occasion of prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving for the friends who remember us as together we rejoice in the coming of the Christ.