“And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Lk. 1:46-47
REJOICE! What a word for our weary spirits this year. We have finally arrived at the third week of Advent and that little pink candle for joy. On Gaudete Sunday we rejoice, because Christmas is drawing near, just as in the midst of Lent, Laetare Sunday anticipates the Easter joy to come. We are still in the middle of a dark and dreary world, but we rejoice because we have a hope that the world does not know.
Both Gaudete and Laetare are Latin words for Rejoice! But our Advent word, Gaudete, indicates a sort of interior rejoicing. I think of the joy that Mary and her cousin Elizabeth shared at the Visitation. Their two sons were still in the womb when John the Baptist leapt for joy at the coming of his cousin, Jesus. This is a deep joy. A kind of joy untroubled by external circumstances, because the gift is carried within and cannot be taken away.
I recently read an adorable exchange between a mom (Catholic speaker Katie Prejean McGrady) and her three year old daughter, Rose, about lighting the candles on their advent wreath at home:
Rose: I want to wight all the candles
Me: Well we only light one at a time, because we’re waiting for Jesus to come. We have to be patient.
Rose: But Jesus is here. In my heart.
Rose: wight them up, mommy. Come on. Jesus is waiting.
— Katie Prejean McGrady (@KatiePrejean) December 2, 2020
Jesus IS waiting. As our priests don their rose vestments this weekend for Gaudete Sunday, let’s all try and put on the heart of little Rose. Do you feel Jesus in your heart, as she does? Do you feel Him waiting? Sit with Him there.
How is your heart? Is the weight of the world crowding out your joy? Do you find yourself so caught up in the exterior aspects of Christmas that the interior preparation of the heart gets lost?
Spend some time praying before your Nativity scene, or a favorite depiction of the Nativity. As you prayerfully enter into the scene, allow Mary to be your mother too. Let her welcome you in and introduce you to her little one. What is it like to hold Jesus in your heart? Ask the Lord for the gift of childlike faith and joy.
- Count your Blessings Like Bing Crosby in White Christmas! Especially if you find it hard to quiet your mind before bed, spend that time counting up the blessings in your life. Keep it simple, and keep going as long as you can. This can be a fun game to play with another person (kids especially) going back and forth to see who can count more blessings!
- Savor the Small Things Take the time to really appreciate one little thing each day. Savor that morning coffee or tea. Get up and watch the sun rise. Hug somebody and mean it. Allow yourself to fully receive the gift of the present moment. Give thanks to God.
- Give Joy One of the fastest ways to cultivate joy and gratitude is to share what we have with others. Donate to a local food bank or other charity. Give a gift to children in need. Write a note of encouragement. Share a plate of cookies. Whatever you do, give with a joyful heart, because “God loves a cheerful giver” 2 Cor 9:7
- Jesus delights in you Did you know? Nothing compares to the joy of bringing a new child home. Likewise God rejoices each time we return to Him. Take some time in prayer and ask the Lord, “Jesus, what do you love about me?” Listen to what He has to say.
- Make your own Magnificat How has God been good to you? What are the promises He has fulfilled in your life… in the lives of those you love? Read Mary’s Magnificat and then write your own song of praise.
Scripture to Ponder:
- Phil: 4:4-6
- Nehemiah 8:10
- Psalm 126:5-6
- Isaiah 61:10
- Habakkuk 3:17-19
- James 1:2
- Romans 12:12
- Luke 1:46-55
A Joy-Filled Playlist for Week 3:
“Make room for heaven within your soul, and during this season, place the Child Jesus in Mary’s arms there… and quietly sing Him carols. Don’t worry about anything external… Do you not have Jesus in your heart? Then so what?” – St. Rafael Arnáiz
Copyright 2020 Mary Conway