The year is quickly coming to its end.  Christmas is almost here and there are a million tasks still on the to-do list.  Are you feeling overwhelmed, or blue?  How do you find your way back to the spirit of the season?  How do you attain the peace and joy of Advent?  

This article was originally published in 2015

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name's sake. (Psalm 79:9)  

I don't know about you, but this has been a rough year.  What began as a powerful Lenten journey spilled into summer, and then autumn.  I often felt like Job, being tested by obstacles and adversity.  And just when I thought it was over and that I was on the path to happily-ever-after, the feeling of "too good to be true" was affirmed and I was knocked back down on the ground, again...  I don't think I handled it too well, although, like Job, I refused to curse God.  But I did feel sorry for myself, and lashed out at others.  Like Job, I prayed constantly, and deep down in my heart, I knew that we grow in adversity and that somehow, this will all lead to reflecting the glory of God.  

Carryl Houselander wrote, "If only those who suffer would be patient with their early humiliations and realize that Advent is not only the time of growth but also of darkness and hiding and waiting, they would trust, and trust rightly, that Christ is growing in their sorrow, and in due season all the fret and strain and tension of it will give place to a splendor of peace."

I believe that the recipe for Joy can be found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: 

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  

So I continued to make prayer a priority, to thank God for ALL things, even the obstacles.  And most importantly, to seek always the will of God.  And to make it my goal that all I do shall be for the glory of God.  

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)  

Gradually, I was able to climb out of the hole of despair I sunk into and I believe there is a new-found joy in my heart.  I went to confession.  I started saying, "It may have slowed me down, but I'm not finished yet!"  After a couple days, I woke up one morning, FULL OF JOY!  And as the morning progressed, I realized it was Gaudete Sunday, also known as the Sunday of Joy.  How beautiful is that?!  And I was scheduled to read at the noon Mass. What an honor to read Baruch 5:  

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship.  

Advent will be over before we know it.  Christmas Day will come and go.  After all the fanfare of the holiday season, after the gift wrap is all cleaned up, and the guests are gone, where will YOU be, in your heart?  Will Jesus be there, front and center?  Did you celebrate the birth of our Savior?  Did you "see Christ" in others and "become Christ" to others?  What greater gift can you give Jesus on His birthday?  

Merry Christmas to all, and may you experience the peace and joy of Christ.  



BTW, below is a photograph I recently took.  And, as it sometimes happens to me, I didn't notice something while taking the photo but I noticed after the fact (this has happened to me before).  This time, I saw what looks to me like a dove in the light, complete with the halo over it's head.  


Well, I'm told it's my porch light (the bulb blew out immediately afterward).  But it's a mystery to me that the halo is even visible, because the wooden overhang from the porch should have blocked the light!

It's also amazing... I just noticed the date that I took the photo... it was the evening of Gaudete Sunday!  One final gift from above...  "Holy Spirit, you are welcome here!"

Listen to "Holy Spirit" by Francesca Battistelli on YouTube: