Saint Francis Xavier, Priest (Memorial)
From his roots a bud shall blossom.
Every year around this time, poinsettia growers are engaged in an elaborate regimen aimed at making their plants turn red at just the right time. By following a precise sequence of exposure to light and darkness, they “force” the poinsettia’s green leaves to turn red. The plant must be kept in sunlight during the day, then in total darkness at least twelve hours a night for an entire month. Even a brief exposure to light during this period can interrupt the reddening process. It’s a lot of work, but the results of these efforts are breathtaking.
This is a good illustration of the blessings of the Advent season. For a whole month, the Church asks us to alter our environment so that we can enter into a time of quiet waiting. It asks us to step back from our everyday routines so that we can spend time in prayerful reflection. And by changing our natural routine in this way, we get the chance to grow and “bloom.”
If you want to bloom this Christmas, now is the time to change up your ordinary way of doing things. Try to unplug from the “bright light” of all the activities that encourage you to stay busy all the time. Set aside time for the “dormancy” of thoughtful solitude as you try to sit quietly with the Scriptures and hear God’s voice in your heart.
Making these kinds of changes in your routine will nurture your faith, even if you don’t notice it. Remember the poinsettia! It doesn’t know that it’s turning red. It just does it by responding to the changes in its environment. Similarly, as you modify your routine and your environment, your heart will respond to the changes and something will happen inside of you. Maybe you will become less likely to snap at someone who annoys you. You might catch yourself smiling more often. Or you might slowly realize that something that tempted you in the past doesn’t have as much power over you anymore.
The people around you will be able to see it too. Don’t be surprised, then, if your life has a ripple effect on them.
“Lord, help me slow down during this special season.”
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
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