The season of Advent is here! Christmas is approaching, and now is the time for joyful preparation in the midst of what is often a busier than normal time of year: making your to-do list, acquiring or making gifts for loved ones, or simply getting your home decorated takes a lot of effort.
Just reading that list, have you already started to feel a little overwhelmed by a case of the “shoulds” this holiday season?
Edward Hayes, a Catholic priest and author on contemporary spirituality, shares with us a beautiful prayer titled St. Nicholas Blessing Prayer from his book Prayers for the Domestic Church: A Handbook for Worship in the Home. The prayer invokes St. Nicholas, an iconic saint known for his generosity and whose feast day is celebrated December 6th, to bless and inspire us in being grounded in the true meaning of the season. The intentionality of this prayer helps us to refocus and slow down. Whenever you start to feel a case of the “shoulds” coming on during the next weeks, we invite you to reflect on this gentle prayer:
St. Nicholas, holy patron of children,
Bishop of the East,
we invite you to come among us
and to grant us your holy blessing.
Help us in this busy, busy season
not to miss the miracle of the coming of Emmanuel
in the days of preparation
as well as on the feast itself.
Help us not to be blind
to the gifts of getting ready.
Protect us from insincerity.
May every greeting we send
be signed with love, friendship and prayer.
May our greetings, so written,
be fun to open and treasures to keep.
Kind St. Nicholas,
protect us from shopper’s fatigue
Show us how to take delight in the marketplace,
now transformed in beauty, lights, and music.
Save us all from anxiety over what to give
so that we may concentrate on how to give.
Stand by the stepladder
as we decorate our homes and trees and lives.
May our decorations not be mute
but rather singing symbols,
sacred signs of the evergreen coming of the Lord of Life.
Help us to remember that mistletoe, holly
and all other ornaments of the season,
were sacred signs to ancient believers.
But, most of all, jolly saint of toys and sweets,
help us stay youthful, humorous, playful and dream-filled
as we prepare together for the coming of Christ
with Advent longing.
St. Nicholas, pray for us.
As you read this, what word or phrase stands out?
What message do you take from this prayer?
What do you need in order to remain peaceful and present?
No matter how much there is to get done, now is the time to slow down and savor the real reason for the season.
Photo credit: Christmas Cliché by Bart Cayusa, Creative Commons License