Breaking the Routine of Our ‘Miracles of Faith’
On the last Prime Day, I ordered a few Amazon devices for our house.
“Look, kids!” I said excitedly. “This will tell us the weather, remind us when it’s time to leave and now you can tell it to add milk to the shopping list when you pour the last drop!”
They leaned in, and I reflected that my children were growing up at such an extraordinary time. Technology is incredible! What would they try first? Listen to classical audiobooks? Practice advanced mathematics?
“Alexa,” the preteen asked, “how loud can you fart?”
Loudly, I learned. So far, the kids have sent burps over Wi-Fi and now, when I ask them to go tell their brother it’s time for dinner, they don’t even turn around to the device that’s three feet away and yell, “Alexa, make an announcement. It’s time for dinner.”
Children are children — the more things change the more they stay the same. And yet, my kids are growing up with technology I thought I’d only see on The Jetsons. They video chat with family and submit homework online. To them, this is all routine.
We are about to celebrate the miracle of God giving us his Son. This miracle that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). The reality of the Incarnation — “the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states so eloquently (#461) — is such a rich mystery that we could spend our whole lives contemplating it and never fully grasp what it means for us!
However, the older I get, the more I catch myself treating various liturgical seasons as routine. Much like my kids — who don’t think twice about what the gadgets they’re surrounded by can do — I’ve become so accustomed to the miracles of our faith and its annual practices that I can breeze through the day, or an entire Advent, without giving it much thought.
If this is something you can relate to, this is a great time to examine how we can break up routines and truly enter the season of Christmas.
Prayer — Of course, prayer is critical for our relationship with God. But introducing new elements can engage our senses and help us focus, even if something as restful as a retreat just isn’t possible.
Imagery — Images that celebrate the mysteries of our faith are especially easy to find at Christmastime, when many of the cards we receive will have images of the Holy Family or Blessed Mother. Consider placing these where they can inspire — practical places like next to the sink or in the laundry room. We can leave the images there until Epiphany to remind us of the miracle of the Incarnation while the rest of the world shifts their attention to Valentine’s Day. We can invite our kids or grandkids to pick out their favorites for their prayer tables or to create a prayer table in our home.
Music — Holiday music can be about snowmen or reindeer, but searching “Advent playlist” or “Christmas playlist” can offer soundtracks to focus our attention on Christ’s presence in the Advent and Christmas seasons.
Adding on — Putting a new element into our routine of prayer is a great option this month, like reading an Advent devotional or listening to a sermon series. There’s often more downtime around work and school, so from podcasts to apps for Catholic meditation, our phones can access all we need for reflection, and we’re always holding them.
Christmas holds some of the richest mysteries we believe and celebrate. No matter how many times we’ve experienced this season, there are always places for growth in our understanding and appreciation. Small things around us can open our eyes to how God is inviting us to encounter him more.
“Hey, Siri — play O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
Alison Blanchet lives in Panama City with her husband and three children. She works as a therapist for children and teens. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.