By Father Joseph Breighner
Years ago, I recall a lady saying, “There’s a lot of false gaiety during the Christmas season.”
She was so right.
So many of us feel the pressure to “put on the face to meet the face,” as another person put it. In other words, we feel like we’re supposed to be happy, so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to look happy. Unfortunately, this added pressure to appear happy can be another source of unhappiness.
Rather than further torturing ourselves trying to appear happy, what if we simply decided to let go of our feelings of sadness or depression or anxiety? Put another way, we let go of the pressures of the world, the societal pressures, in order to surrender fully to the presence of Christ.
Christ stays with us during our darkest moods and our darkest behaviors. The challenge is for us to stay with Christ. Certainly, one of the central models for our Advent season is Mary. She allowed the “power of the Most High to overshadow her.” She allowed God to take on flesh in her womb. Mary let go of her fears, worries, anxieties and doubts, and surrendered them to God. Can we do the same? I believe we can.
Allow me to share a little guided meditation. I literally found this mediation in my wallet. No doubt, someone gave it to me. Perhaps that someone was Christ. I don’t know the source of the meditation. Perhaps someone may recognize it, and tell me. However it got into my wallet, I believe it to be a miracle. It was what I needed at the time. Perhaps it will help you at this holiday time.
I’ve changed only a few words in the meditation. I invite you not just to read it, but to pause and to close your eyes at the suggested places, and allow the pictures and words to become real inside you. Here is the meditation:
“Picture, your hands placing in God’s hands the person or problem you are concerned about.” (Pause here as long as you care.) “Next, picture God’s hands, gently and lovingly, holding that person or problem.” (Pause again.) “Next, picture God holding you.” (Pause again.) Now, hear God saying to you: “All is well. All is as it should be, and as it needs to be.” (Pause again.) Finally, hear God saying to you: “All will be well, better than you think. Be at peace. Allow me to take over.” (Again, pause for as long as you care.)
Feel free to use this meditation in the morning and evening, or throughout the day. It’s easy enough to remember. Its power is in doing it.
When you and I feel caught in our feelings of fear or depression or anxiety, or whatever, it seems that our feelings have us. It seems like our feelings are bigger than we are. In truth, we are far, far bigger than our feelings.
We have our feelings. We have the power to let them go. It may seem very difficult, but as a wise person put it: “It’s simple if you do it, and it’s impossible if you don’t do it.”
We are as big as the presence of Christ who “fills the universe in all its parts.” Mary carried Christ within her. We sometimes forget that we do too.
Mary carrying Christ within her is not just the story of Advent and Christmas. It is the journey of every Christian. Surrender to the Christ within. All the power is there.
Copyright (c) Dec. 13, 2012 CatholicReview.org