By Manolito S. Jaldon, Jr.
Dir. of Evangelization & Faith Formation, St. Brendan Church
Christmas in San Francisco is a charming thing to celebrate. Russ Lorenson sings of how San Francisco is “a lovely place to be, seeing the hills being all lit up like a diamond Christmas tree, hearing children singing carols. People come from everywhere to sing along with the children standing all around Union Square.” Indeed, we have the Macy’s Christmas Tree, Ice Skating, Handel’s Messiah at Davies, and the Nutcracker at the War Memorial, to name a few premiere events of the season.
At the heart of it all, however, is the gift of remembrance. Childhood memories often come flooding back at this time of year. We remember fondly our loved ones who have gone before us and special family celebrations. In particular, I remember the Saint Nicholas Day party at the seminary that Father Roger and I always attended and one of the faculty members’ popular eggnog (with a special kick) that was served during the social.
All of these memories come to mind because they are special ways of celebrating the joy we experience when we realize that God’s desire is nothing less than to come so near to our humanity that he sent his only Son to be born into the world and enter our human family.
The readings this season reflect on this sense of divine nearness in three ways: history; mystery; and majesty. God comes to us in history through the awe-filled act of becoming a finite human being, subject to time and dependent on a human family. Our Lord comes to us each Sunday in mystery, hidden in the humble gifts of bread and wine. This manner of looking into the history of the past in order to celebrate the mystery of the present also points us to the future and how he will return in majesty.
Advent seems to be that season that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. If we take a moment to be still, however, we can find hidden gems in our spiritual lives during this time by disconnecting in order to reconnect with the memory of the central event of Christmas and God’s closeness to us.
A great way to do that is to make your home into a little oratory, a little chapel, where you can be still as a family and remember Christ in Christmas. When you create a space for prayer in your home, you are reminded of God’s presence at all times, while also making a connection between church and home.
Join us on Wednesday evening, December 13, at 7 p.m., as the internationally-acclaimed author, David Clayton, presents his book, The Little Oratory, and teaches us how to make our homes into truly sacred spaces. Then try it at home, take a picture, and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will include your special Advent prayer space in our Christmas Eve celebration.
As we put up the crèche and tree in our homes once again this holiday season, let’s remember that Advent is a time to remember.