I recently asked a mentor in ministry to recommend a retreat emcee. Rather than replying with the qualifications of her most accomplished colleagues or students, she named two people who could lead the retreat “without getting in the way.” As I recall who broadened and deepened my understanding of the Catholic faith, they are either people without social and educational distinctions, or people committed to the hard, ongoing work of putting their qualifications and education at the service of their baptismal call to live the Gospel. They are people like John the Baptist, free to actively point others not toward themselves but toward Christ. John the Baptist’s preparation for ministry in the desert is particular to his circumstances. Still, his presence to others without getting in the way and service that intentionally invites Christ into his efforts is a model for ministry.
It’s no secret that Advent will look different this year than in years past. Take advantage of the extra time at home with your family to intentionally prepare your hearts for the birth of Christ. Below are four ways to celebrate Advent in your home.
Hard as it is to imagine, the season of Advent and the new liturgical year is just days away. As we are reminded each year, Advent is a season when Christians throughout the world rededicate themselves to waiting in hope. We anticipate the coming of Christ, the light of the world, who scatters the darkness of sin and shatters the bonds of death. We prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming in history at Christmas; we ponder the ways that he comes to us in mystery even now, especially in the Eucharist; and we look forward to his coming in glory at the end of time.
Editorial Note: This series features Nativity sets from Africa on display in the McGrath Institute for Church Life’s Sixth Annual International Crèche Exhibit.
Although Christmas Day has passed, and the holiday music in stores and the lights on houses have disappeared, we are nevertheless still in the liturgical season of Christmas, which lasts until the Baptism of the Lord. Though the excitement and busy planning for Christmas Day can occupy our minds, making January a welcome relief from the intensity of a holiday season, the Christmas season invites us to ponder how the birth of Christ accompanies us even as we return to a normal rhythm of life.
For anyone working in ministry, or any parent, or really any human being, the emotional spectrum of the days leading up to Christmas can often range from stressful to beyond chaotic. In a time that is supposed to be about ‘peace on earth toward people of good will,’ these days can feel anything but peaceful, and the risk of burnout becomes very real.