Unwrap it – Christmas Examination (from Kelly Wahlquist’s website post about savoring the gift during the 12 days of Christmas)
“The Joy of the Gospel” is an incredible gift with a beautiful bow tied together … Picture three young boys in front of a Christmas tree with a pile of gifts and no gift-opening rules. It’s complete chaos; a whirlwind of wrapping paper and presents flying everywhere (FYI: I learned quickly the importance of rules even when opening gifts).
This is what the Christmas season often feels like to me – a whirlwind of activity that I’m just trying to rip through. Yet when I approach it this way, I don’t take the time to really unwrap the true experience of the season and appreciate all the gifts.
Let’s use these twelve days of Christmas to unwrap what this Apostolic Exhortation experience means to us. We can use these 12 days to slowly reveal the gifts of enlightenment, encouragement and evangelization we’ve received. The Holy Father opened up (in paragraph 3) by inviting us to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus and what a perfect time to do so at Jesus’ birth. “The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.”
How did you grow intellectually with your faith? What touched your heart and soul like never before? How are you inspired to be the hands and feet of Jesus after this?
Adapting a couple of practices within our faith could be helpful in examining this experience deeper. One way is through Lectio Divina. You could use this sacred process of reading the scripture, one in which the Holy Father encourages us to do as well (paragraph 153), to unwrap what is meaningful to you. Read through your notes and the reflections; meditate on what is speaking to you; pray for how God wants to use you; and then contemplate what this means for your life.
Another way to examine this experience is adapting St. Ignatius’ Examen, one of the most important of his Spiritual Exercises that help to engage in the practice of examining one’s soul and life. Matthew Kelly adapted this into a Prayer Process that will be a “game changer for you spiritually and a game changer for every aspect of your life.” We can use his process to do the same with the Apostolic Exhortation:
· Gratitude – What are you most thankful for with this experience?
· Awareness – How did you gain a deeper awareness in your life?
· Significant moments – What was most significant for you and explore what God might be trying to say to you?
· Peace – Ask God to forgive you for any wrongs and to fill you with peace. How might you spread peace to others?
· Freedom – How is he inviting you to change your life so you can experience the freedom to be the best, holy you?
· Others – How is God inviting you to evangelize and share the Good News to others?
(Graphic courtesy of hope24seven