Finding the True Spirit of Advent in the Charism of St. Vincent
Sometimes, Christmas preparations can feel more like a burden than a blessing. There are the must-do chores of writing gift lists, cleaning the home and planning meals. Hours of shopping and wrapping can overwhelm an afternoon. Fighting traffic and long lines can be exhausting. Of course, a memorable holiday celebration makes all the effort seem worthwhile when family and friends come together to share glad tidings.
As supporters of the Vincentian mission, we remember that the holidays are not only about preparing for festive celebrations, but more importantly, about rejoicing in Advent – a time to prepare our hearts for Jesus.
St. Vincent de Paul, who placed Christ at the center of his life, can serve as a role model during Advent. Jesus was at the center of St. Vincent’s “decisions, plans, struggles, and actions.” Like the humble saint, we can pray and ask for the help to place Jesus at the center of our lives: Lord Jesus, teach me by your example. I want to give myself to you, body and soul, heart and mind and spirit so that I may always do what gladdens you. In your mercy, grant me the grace to have you continue in me and through me your saving work.
When Christ is at the center of our lives, especially at this time of year, we can be more open to evangelizing others as they witness our spirit alive with expectant and joyful love. Others may notice this in the way we respond to the needs of the poor, welcome friends and family into our home and patiently accomplish all those important holiday chores.
Focusing on God’s glorious gift of salvation can help put holiday expectations into perspective. While expecting to receive a particular present, to send Christmas cards by a certain date or to plan the menu for a holiday party can seem important, wanting a deep love for God will bring us more joy and fulfillment. According to St. Vincent, “To be consumed for God, to have no goods nor power except for the purpose of expending them for God is what our Savior did Himself, He who was consumed for love of His Father.”
As the life of St. Vincent teaches us, everything we have and hope for is found in Christ. Rather than striving for perfection in how we successfully accomplish our to-do lists, we can seek to find true perfection during Advent by “uniting our will to God’s so that His will and ours become one.” We can unite our will to His by praying for our family and friends and giving them the gifts of time, attention and love, and also sharing these gifts with the poor.
With St. Vincent as our role model this Advent, may we pray for Christ to be at the center of our lives in order to be consumed with a love for Him and to unite our will to His.
Courtesy of the website of the Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission