We all become extremely busy during this season that we oftentimes fail to realize that we haven’t prepared for the coming of the Lord. Katie gives us concrete steps to help us seek God in the midst of the hustle and bustle and reminds us that the true meaning of Christmas is not about the superficial things, but rather the miracle of Christ coming into our world.
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Reflective Study Guide Questions
“It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”Henry David Thoreau
- After being so busy getting ready for Christmas, have you ever felt underwhelmed on Christmas day? Have you ever felt spiritually dissatisfied by the time Christmas arrives? Why was that? Katie shares that she has felt underwhelmed on Christmas because she had not prepared her heart for Christmas. Can you relate?
- To combat the busyness and spiritual dissatisfaction that we can so easily experience during Advent, leading up to Christmas, let’s prepare our hearts for Christmas. What is something that you have done in the past to ready your heart for Christmas?
- Is there anything in particular that gets in the way of your peace and sense of calm during Advent? If so, what is it? What can you do about it?
- Katie explains that when we seek Jesus, there is peace in our hearts. So, wherever you are in your prayer life, challenge yourself to take it one step up. For example, you could add some prayer time to your day, go to daily mass, fast or incorporate some other devotional to your day.
Text: Trading Busyness for the Calm of Christ
Hi. My name is Katie Sciba, and we are going to talk about preparing our hearts for Christmas. There is so much that happens during Advent, even beginning before Advent, that goes towards preparing for Christmas on the surface, right. There’s the baking, decorating, shopping, more shopping, cleaning, office parties, holiday parties. There’s so much that happens, our to-do lists become a mile long. There is so much going on. And we put all of that work into preparing for Christmas, and then Christmas morning we wake up and sometimes, at least for me, there is an underwhelming spiritual experience.
“This is it?”
I realized this a few years ago. I would wake up on Christmas morning, after putting all of this prep and joyful anticipation into Christmas, and then the day would come, and throughout the course of the day I would think to myself “This is it?” And there was no wonder, there was no excitement over the miracle of Christmas happening. The miracle of Christ, God Himself, being born on the earth. There was no wonder and awe when it came to that. So I was always, like, spiritually disappointed, just underwhelmed, and I realized it was because I wasn’t spending any time readying my heart for Christmas. I was just focused on everything else that was on the surface.
Now, what’s on the surface is fun, and exciting, and important, but what’s so much more crucial is that we ready our souls to allow Jesus to be born there. And that is what He wants, He wants that peace and that intimacy with Him, right. He desires our hearts, right. And so what we are going to do in the next few weeks is ready our hearts for Christmas. But there are some any roadblocks that we experience, right, so many obstacles to this kind of Christmas peace that we desire, and the first thing that we are going to cover is busyness.
Now, so, we just mentioned all of the surface prep that happens during Advent and that happens for Christmas, but we’re even busy kind of outside of the season too, and so much can get in the way of us having real, genuine peace. And what happens in here within us will happen out there, will come out. So Luke 6:45 says From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. So, what happens within us will make its way out for others to see and experience. And I don’t know about you, but I would rather not be like a hot mess during Advent and during Christmas. So, when we are busy, especially with all of this preparation, our to-do lists are crazy long. And sometimes they’re not even, like, hardcopy lists, sometimes our lists are just in our head, which makes us even crazier, and we have just less rest during Advent. If it’s sleep or even just sitting down, rest is fleeting during this time, because somehow we’re supposed to maintain our normal lives while getting ready for one of the biggest holidays of the year, and that’s so overwhelming.
I’m a minimalist, I love living simply and the freedom that it offers. It is incredible. And so when it comes to surface stuff, I typically tell people to look at what needs to be done and do that, and then let go of the rest, or at least what you can let go of. So that means keeping purchases fewer, and that’s not just gifts but, like, just the little extras that we buy at the holidays. You can buy fewer presents, you can wrap your presents early, take a look at what you consider really needs to happen and just cut out the rest. Or spend your time doing what needs to happen, fulfill your obligations, and then if you have time and energy for more, then do it. But that’s with the surface stuff, right. So what can we do to prepare our hearts for Christmas within ourselves, right? The antidote for this busyness, this, like, fretting is calm. It’s calm. What we need is more Jesus in order to have more peace.
Union With God Yields Peace
I love the story, it’s attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta, and it’s a story of her sisters came to her, and they were overwhelmed by their workload. There were just not enough hours in the day, and they weren’t getting everything done that they wanted to, and they went to her and they said “There’s just too much, we’re overwhelmed, we’re not getting everything done.” And she said “Okay. Two hours of adoration then,” she doubled their holy hour.
Now, for everyone else that might make them panic, like “No, I need to spend more time doing my work. I don’t need more time resting.” But isn’t it so true though that in order to do what the Lord wants us to do, we need more time with Him. The point is that union with God yields peace. Union with God yields peace, and we have union with God when we frequent the sacraments: We go to Mass, we go to confession. That’s so important. If you really want to prepare your heart during Advent, then I strongly encourage you to go to confession and just create a clean heart within yourself, ask the Lord to make yourself clean to make room for Him.
When we offer time just in individual prayer in the course of our days, if we… and a lot of people say, like, “Well I’m busy. I don’t have time to pray.” If you’re too busy to pray, then you’re too busy, and honestly that’s kind of… it’s hard to say, because it’s hard for me to hear, and I realize that there are so many things that I fill my hours with that honestly are not necessary, and what is necessary is that I am in touch with my Heavenly Father. We’re made in the image and likeness of God, right, so that means that in order to be more ourselves, in order to give more of ourselves, in order to be in touch with who we really are, we have to be in contact with the source of our lives, and that will yield incredible peace.
So everyone has five minutes, everyone has five minutes during the course of your day. You can attach it to a meal and say “You know, five minutes before I start dinner I’m going to pray.” Or five minutes before the kids wake up. Whatever it is. Or “The first five minutes of my commute to work, I’m going to pray.” We offer just a little bit of time. I don’t know how busy Mary was, but when it comes to them being, like, panicked or fretting over something, I think of when she and Joseph lost Jesus when He was 12, and they’re traveling for three days, everything’s great, and they look around… where did He go? They thought He was with relatives, He wasn’t. So where did they find the Prince of Peace? In His Father’s house. So panic, panic, panic, searching for our Lord, and then they found Him with the Father. So that can happen with us. There is so much going on in our minds, with our to-do lists, all of that, but when we seek Jesus, when we look to the Father, when we unite ourselves with our Heavenly Father, there is peace.
Now, that might not shorten your to-do lists, but union with the Father will yield more ability to do what He wills us to do, what He asks us to do. So that is my challenge. When it comes to busyness and all of the stuff that clouds our minds, clouds our time and our schedule, I want you to take where you are in your prayer life and go one step further, just one step. So, let’s say you’re not doing anything right now in your prayer life, so what I want you to do is to begin your day with a Glory Be. Say a Glory Be in the morning at some point. So that will orient you to knowing that our lives, our time in this day is meant to be for the glory of the Lord.
If you are rocking it, and you’ve got 30 minutes of personal prayer every day, and you’re praying Rosaries, and you’re going to daily Mass, that’s fantastic. Add fasting. Scripture says that there are some things that cannot be overcome except by fasting. Fasting is a very powerful prayer, and a fantastic way to prepare our hearts for Christmas. So take where you are and go one step further, one step further. St. Therese said that “prayer is a launching out of the heart toward God.” Launching out of the heart, which means that we can be real with Jesus. We can be honest, because that is what He desires. He desires us right where we are, the raw versions of ourselves. We present that to Him, and He will meet us there. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” That’s one of my very favorite versus during Advent, is knowing that Jesus awaits us, and He is ready.
So, Jesus looks to our hearts for what’s within us. Spend that five minutes, offer a Glory Be, go to confession, go to an additional Mass this week, unite yourself with the Father to appease that sense of fretting and busyness during this time of preparation in Advent.
About Katie Sciba
Katie Sciba is a national speaker, retreat writer, and six-time Catholic Press Award-winning columnist. She holds a degree in theology from Benedictine College, and her work on Catholic minimalism, spiritual intimacy with Jesus, as well as marriage and family has impacted audiences nationwide. Katie writes for Cincinnati’s Catholic Telegraph and has been featured on several podcasts and radio shows. Her humor and honesty enable her to connect well with a crowd.
At home, Katie homeschools her children and plays an active part in her husband’s small business. She and Andrew live with their family in Omaha, Nebraska. You can learn more about her on her website and on her Facebook page.