Christmas is a time of glad tidings and great joy, but it can also be a very difficult time for many people. Health and financial stresses, the loss of a loved one, loneliness, or strained family relationships can lead to the ‘holiday blues.’
Fr. Armenio said, “We need not panic if we have the right answers when we find ourselves blue.” Below are some of his suggestions:
Come Let Us Adore Him
Let’s commit ourselves to some Eucharistic adoration. That’s really living Advent and the Christmas season. Bethlehem means ‘house of bread,’ which is symbolic of a Church or a chapel, and a ‘manger’ is an apparatus from which animals eat, so there’s a lot of Eucharistic imagery in the birth of Jesus. I would say, maybe one of the reactions that would help the holiday blues is to spend more time in front of the tabernacle. And if you think that with all the festivities and the preparations you don’t have time, then that should be a little bit of a red flag.
Count Your Blessings
What is gratitude? Gratitude is identifying how a person has loved you, and recognizing that love. And that obviously applies to the blessings God has showered on us. Instead of saying, ‘I wish I were 16 years old, or 9 years old and eagerly looking for presents under the tree,’ I need to reflect on that and thank God that I was blessed to have those kinds of experiences. The vast majority of people do not have those experiences, and the countless blessings that we have during the Christmas season.
Give of Yourself
I would recommend as much as possible to reach out to people. To family, or if family is not in the immediate vicinity, to friends. This is all very Christian and in keeping with the Christmas season. And if possible, do corporal works of mercy. That also engenders thanksgiving. At my age, good friends of mine are in rehab centers, nursing homes, they have conditions like Parkinson’s, dementia, etc. and it’s always a joy to reach out and lift somebody’s spirit. It is always an encounter with Christ.
The more we give of ourselves to others, the more true joy sets in.
Keep Your Eyes on Heaven
Our faith tells us that part of our ideal Christmas is to one day be reunited, together in heaven contemplating God. St. Paul said that you cannot even imagine the joy and the happiness that will occur in the Beatific Vision. But don’t fight the sorrow, because that’s part of being Christian as well. Without my loved one there is sorrow, and there’s a reminder that they’re not here, but on a deeper level they’re in heaven, enjoying Christmas and interceding. And one day we’ll be reunited.
Find the Silver Lining
I would say there’s a silver lining in those blues. Because as wonderful as health is, or being with loved ones, or getting the presents of your desires – they’re overrated. These are partial goods that can never satisfy the human heart. And this is a time to be really centered on Christ.
Listen to the full conversation with Fr. Peter Armenio below:
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