Gaudete! Rejoice!

REJOICE! Gaudete!

 

From the Introit, or Entrance Antiphon, for today’s Mass, we hear St. Paul exhort the Philippians: “Rejoice in the LORD always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed the LORD is near!”

Indeed He is!  In case you needed are reminder, there are 11 days left until Christmas Day.  Is your Christmas tree up yet?  Is your baking finished?  Are your presents wrapped?  {Don’t worry.  None of that is complete over here, either.  The tree goes up today, I have a bajillion gifts en route from Amazon, and my baking has been limited to one batch of brownies.}  More importantly – how are you cultivating an atmosphere of joy for your family, friends and coworkers?

In the midst of the chaos of the season, losing our joy seems inevitable.  We see it all around us – the impatience, the stress, the rushed comings and goings.  It’s tough, I know.  As moms, our Decembers are a whirlwind of whose turn is it to light the Advent wreath, whose turn is it to hang the Jesse Tree ornaments, “Can we watch Muppet Christmas Carol again?”, parties, gifts, housecleaning, church-clothes-hunting, sickness, ugly sweater parties, nativity plays, choir performances, and white elephant exchanges…the list goes on.  Heck, I only remembered last night that today is our CCE Christmas party, and I have exactly nothing prepared to give to my third-graders as gifts.  Talk about panic.  A friend of mine rescheduled a holiday brunch twice in two weeks due to sick kids and conflicting schedules.  We haven’t taken our Christmas card photo yet, because the photographer is booked solid with other commitments {our photographer is me, but it sounds better when I say “our photographer,” as if there were someone else to blame.}

So how do we nurture our own joy?  How do we share that joy with others this time of year?  St. John Paul II writes, “Joy is the heart of the gospel of Christmas…Today humanity yearns especially for the gifts of joy and peace. It is our mission as believers, with the eloquence of love expressed in deeds, to become every day the prophetic ferment of a world reconciled by love and animated by divine joy.”

JOY

Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves – why are we doing all of this?  What is the motivation behind all of the chaos?  Is running myself ragged, snapping at my family, and being one missing church shoe away from the looney bin demonstrating the “eloquence of love expressed in deeds?” Probably not.  Why do we do what we do, in the manner we do it?  Out of love for our families, to be sure – but perhaps there’s a bit of self-love in there, too.  We desire everything to be perfect.  We need to appear to have it all together.  People are looking at our every move, our every cleverly crafted Pinterest wreath, our every marshmallow snowman cupcake. We can’t – simply can’t – let any of this go.  We have an image to uphold!  And our kids’ childhoods will be ruined if we don’t create the nativity scene out of hand-cut sugar cookies decorated with royal icing!

Let’s refocus, you and me.  Our motivation for anything we do on this earth should always be to help each other get to Heaven.  Everything else is just details.  Repeat that to yourself before you keep reading, because it will be important to remember before you take the next step….I’ll wait…got it?  Good. If Satan has been working hard to steal your joy through overcommitments and insanity, you’re going to be behind before you start. If your calendar this week looks like crazy, wild chaos, take a long hard look at what’s written there.  Are there any things scheduled that aren’t absolutely essential for you or your family to participate in?  Are there any things that can be postponed until after Christmas Day, during the “true” Christmas season?  Cancel and/or reschedule them.  A friend of mine and I get together every year to create gingerbread houses with our kids, and this year I just couldn’t find a spot on the calendar to make it work.  Not wanting to skip our little tradition, I asked her if she’d be open to hosting AFTER Dec. 25th.  To my delight, she agreed – I think we were both grateful for the opportunity to have something to look forward to after the Big Day, and to enjoy the free space on the calendar for now. Many times, our craziness is exacerbated by a lack of planning.  Are there things that you would really love to do, but after honestly thinking about it, you just haven’t taken the time needed with which to properly plan?  Nix those activities until next year.  There’s a good chance your kids won’t even notice it’s missing from the season.

In those blank squares you’ve just created, refill them with things that force you to SLOW DOWN ALREADY and bring you joy – praying the Rosary, spending time with an Advent devotional, reading a Christmas story to your kids, or staying in your PJs and watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” with your family.  Invite a friend over for hot chocolate and DON’T stress about the level of house cleanliness before she gets there.  If you can clear a path from the door to your table or couch, you’re good.  LET IT GO.  Do the things that bring you joy.  You can’t share your joy with others if you haven’t taken the time to fill your “Joy Tank” up with good fuel.  At work, take the time to visit with coworkers whom you know to be lonely this time of year.  Share a favorite recipe with them, bring them a cup of coffee from the breakroom and share your peppermint mocha creamer, invite them to go to Mass with you, or include them in a family celebration.  You don’t have to do big, elaborate, over the top things – but, as St. Therese said, “do little things with great love!”

Make “love expressed in deeds” your credo for this joyful, this Gaudete week of Advent – and share with me below your ideas for cultivating joy!

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Don’t miss the other great posts linked up at Beth Anne’s Best Advent BlogHop!

 

4 thoughts on “Gaudete! Rejoice!

  1. Wow this is a great post! I love it! I feel you on getting everything done. I didn’t get my Jesse Tree up until about day 8? And a lot of times I’m putting several ornaments on at once. I’ve always enjoyed Gaudete Sunday. There is something that changes in the Advent season as we’re that much closer to Christmas. Thanks for participating in the advent blog hop!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, there have been a few nights we’ve done 2-3 ornaments a night! Last year, when we for two days behind, we just stopped on Day 10 because we were off schedule. This year, I realize that occasionally doing two at a time is much better than none at all! And I agree with you – Gaudete is the BEST 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and giving me the opportunity!

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