If you're anything like me, once Thanksgiving has come and gone, Christmas can't come soon enough. There's just something about decking the halls and James Taylor At Christmas that brings out my inner child and an even greater sense of joy during the month of December.
But with all the excitement of the Christmas season, it can be easy to forget about Advent, and to neglect spiritual preparations for Baby Jesus to enter our souls and the world.
I came across this daily meditation by Fr. Frederic Nelson* called "A Spiritual Christmas Crib" a few weeks ago and found it to be a meaningful way to help prepare my heart for Christ's birth. This spiritual exercise is meant to build a crib for Jesus Christ in our hearts so that they will be worthy of His presence come December 25th.
I invite you to partake in this spiritual journey with me. Each day of December, there will be one part of the stable that you can "build" by reading the short meditation as well as practicing the suggested spiritual exercise. It is also highly encouraged to recite the short prayer as often as you can throughout the day.
I wish you all a most blessed and fruitful Advent!
December 1: The StableFrequently during the day offer your heart to the little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home.
Prayer: Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and pure.
December 2: The RoofSee that the roof of the stable is in good condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully avoiding every uncharitable remark.
Prayer: Jesus, teach me to love my neighbor as myself.
December 3: CrevicesCarefully stop every crevice in the walls of the stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard especially your ears against sinful conversations.
Prayer: Jesus, help me to keep temptations out of my heart.
December 4: CobwebsClean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib. Diligently remove from your heart every inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this intention at least three times today.
Prayer: My Jesus, I want to please You in all I do today.
December 5: FenceBuild a fence about the crib of your heart by keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially at prayer.
Prayer: Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.
December 6: MangerFix the best and warmest corner of your heart for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by abstaining from what you like most in the line of comfort and amusement.
Prayer: Mary, use these sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in Holy Communion.
December 7: HaySupply the manger of your heart with hay, by overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.
Prayer: Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest sins.
December 8: Soft StrawAlso provide your manger with soft straw by performing little acts of mortification; for instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit and stand erect.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, Who suffered so much for me, let me suffer for love of You.
December 9: Swaddling ClothesPrepare these for the Divine Infant by folding your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and thoughtfully.
Prayer: Jesus, let me love you more and more.
December 10: BlanketsProvide the manger of your heart with soft warm blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and gentle to all.
Prayer: Jesus, help me to be meek and humble like You.
December 11: FuelBring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own will; obey your superiors cheerfully and promptly.
Prayer: Jesus, let me do Your will in all things.
December 12: WaterBring fresh, clean water to the crib. Avoid every untruthful word and every deceitful act.
Prayer: Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for my sins.
December 13: ProvisionsBring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a treat.
Prayer: Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.
December 14: LightSee that the crib has sufficient light. Be neat and orderly about your person; keep everything in its place in your room.
Prayer: Jesus, be the life and light of my soul.
December 15: FireTake care to have the crib of your heart warmed by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful respect towards your parents and relatives.
Prayer: Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show my gratitude to You?
December 16: The OxLead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without making excuses and without asking "why."
Prayer: I will obey for love of You, Jesus.
December 17: The DonkeyBring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service of others.
Prayer: Jesus, accept my service of love; I offer it for those who do not love You.
December 18: GiftsGather some presents for the Divine Infant and His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say an extra decade of the rosary.
Prayer: Come, Jesus, to accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.
December 19: LambsStrive to bring some little lambs, meek and patient. Do not murmur or complain.
Prayer: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours.
December 20: ShepherdsInvite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is important because Jesus will be born again in you.
Prayer: Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.
December 21: The KeyProvide the stable with a key to keep out thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful thought, every rash judgment.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, close my heart to all that hurts You.
December 22: AngelsInvite the angels to adore God with you. Cheerfully obey the inspirations of your guardian angel and of your conscience.
Prayer: Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that you are with me always.
December 23: St. JosephAccompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn from him silently and patiently to bear refusals and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Prayer: Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy Christmas Communion.
December 24: The Blessed VirginGo meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the manger of your heart and beg her to lay the Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and telephone conversations and spend more time today thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.
Prayer: Come, dear Jesus, come; my heart belongs to You.