Monthly Spiritual Exercise Group
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The Lavish And The Lowly: Spiritual Exercise 12/13/21

Please join us Monday 12/13/21 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm MT (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm ET) Blessings.

Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 4537185699

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. 


The Lavish and the Lowly

Anyone who has watched a Hallmark Christmas movie knows both how predictable and unreal they are. People will often say the movies are “safe,” meaning no bad language and no sex. Just romantic.

The incredible sets, noticeable in each movie, are lavishly decorated to convey the “magic” of Christmas.  Yet, there is something empty about the scenes, which they try to resolve by injecting a romantic story into the plotline.  The main characters often task themselves with breaking through to another distant or Scrooge-like character who just doesn’t see or appreciate how special Christmas is.  The existence of these characters is probably more real than anything else the movies offer.  If only the script took a deeper look. But, usually, the right hot chocolate or gingerbread cookie, and always a Christmas rescue project which involves saving a business, is provided to sway them to a deeper appreciation of the Christmas spirit. 

While we are initially attracted to the glitter of the lights, etc., it is not hard to recognize that none of it has anything to do with Jesus outside the occasional obligatory Christmas Carol they sometimes sing.  And none of it has anything to do with the world most of us live in. It’s fantasy without depth, without any real meaning or moral.  Entertaining perhaps, but nothing more, nothing that prepares us for or deepens the real meaning of Christmas in us.

For many people, Christmas time is a burden that intensifies their sadness, their loneliness, their feelings of isolation.  Yet, it is precisely for this reason that Jesus comes in the darkness of our night, radiating heavenly Light in place of all the artificial ones we surround ourselves with.  He comes to us in silence and stillness.  He identifies with us in our lowliness and draws us into the humble abode He has chosen to be born into, a metaphor for our own souls, our own hearts, which He nonetheless desires to inhabit.  

Those who are sad and sorrowful, who know the meanness of life, have a special key to this place.  They are closer to the Lord than they realize than all those who seek to find joy in the material trappings we have attached to Christmas and which drag our hearts down to earth when they are being invited to share the joy of heaven.  Caryll Houselander has noted that “The love for material things grows like a fungus in the soul and destroys the loveliness of the human heart utterly.” Those who have only their hearts to give, broken and bereft, tired and weary by life are closest to the hope and the peace that the angels proclaim that solemn night, for nothing diverts their attention from the Truth that only in God, in the courts of the House of the Lord, will our souls find the love and rejoicing that sets them free to soar above the sufferings they have endured. 

Christmas is not a time for the lavish but rather a time for the lowly.  It is the lowly and the lovers of wisdom who are drawn without reservation to the stable and who experience a restoration of the awe that animates a truly human heart.  Pope Benedict XVI says that God does not allow Himself to be shut out.  He finds a space, even if it means entering through a stable.  May this Christmas find us in touch with our own lowliness that we may have unfettered access to the presence of the Savior Who seeks, as Houselander notes: “a home in your soul, where he can be at rest with you, where he can talk easily to you, where you and he, alone together, can laugh and be silent and be delighted with one another.” 

  1. Pope Benedict says God does not allow Himself to be shut out.  How have you experienced God breaking through to you?
  2. How do you deal with the materialism of Christmas?  Where do you find the balance?  
  3. What is the deepest desire of your heart for this Christmas?  How can you personally prepare for a real encounter with Christ in the intimacy of your own heart?  What is it you need to do?
  4. Who do you most identify with in the Christmas story?  Think of the many characters involved, from the people in Jerusalem who completely missed His coming, or sought to prevent it (Herod), to the shepherds, the wise men, the Holy Family, the angels, etc.  This can change from year to year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May the Peace and Grace of the Lord Shine Bright Upon You

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