Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most beloved saints of our tradition, was known for being very committed to fasting well. Throughout the year, Francis (and the early Franciscans who followed his lead in their path of following Jesus) would fast every Friday. One year, Christmas was on a Friday. The brothers, wanting to be sure they were fasting well but also wanting Francis' guidance, asked Francis what they were supposed to do on that specific Friday. The response?
On that day, brothers, we should not fast. No, on that day, we should smear meat on the walls so that even the walls can not fast!
Whether that quote is exactly how he said it or not, the reality is powerful: this day is a day of intense celebration! Our God has come to us. Our savior has visited us. God with us, Immanuel, the only begotten Son of the Father, is born in a manger to us.
In this first reading (for the Mass at Dawn) from Isaiah, it is prophesied that our savior will come, and that in him we will know that we are not forsaken! Brothers and sisters, today is that day. Today, we remember that God became man, born of a Virgin in a manger in order to come and be with his people. Our God is not a God who remains distant; no, he comes to be among his people.
It was also St. Francis that popularized the Nativity scene. The people needed a way to truly remember what happened on Christmas, not just thinking about it but seeing it. This moment, this manger, was too important for the people to not truly understand. In that manger we see the Christ child, the one who would forever change the course of the entire world, reuniting mankind to the Father.
Today, in the spirit of St. Francis from 800 years ago, let's celebrate. Let's rejoice in the birth of our savior, looking upon the manger and knowing that in this child lies our salvation, for God has visited his people.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
How will I celebrate Christ's birth today?
How will I continue to remember and commemorate what happened on this day even long after it is over?
Where have I seen Christ present in my own life on this day?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Emmanuel: God with us."
"Christ has come."
"God has visited his people."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Take time today to truly celebrate! Don't worry about tasks or work that will come tomorrow but live in the celebration of today.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jason Theobald, Executive Director of Carpe Verbum.
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