A Moment of Peace

Christmas Eve in most households is anything but peaceful. Even the most organized seem to be full of last-minute activity, from cooking to present-wrapping, to say nothing of the long treks homeward many a son or daughter and family will make in order to celebrate together with other family members. In the monastery there is no present-wrapping or travel to worry about, but the preparation of a complex liturgy which goes on throughout the Octave and a more than usually ample dinner for Christmas Day itself, can be demanding, especially when unexpected visitors turn up or those in distress telephone in search of comfort. How do any of us find peace in all this? The conventional wisdom, to go with the flow, is at best a half-truth. Peace is not to be identified with the absence of struggle or a kind of mental or moral opting-out, nor can we glibly assert that embracing reality, whatever that means in this context, is the answer.

There is only one way to find peace on Christmas Eve and that is to allow the Prince of Peace into our hearts and minds. It means consciously stopping, at least for a few moments, all our frantic activity and saying, ‘Lord, you see how busy I am. If I forget you, please don’t forget me!’ In that acknowledgement of our inability to slow down or halt the Christmas rush, we are being honest; and, instead of turning the Lord away for a time when we think we will be better able to receive him, we are inviting him into our chaotic present, admitting it is far from perfect, but wanting to be with him, and him with us, all the same.

To stop, even for a moment, is not easy, especially if there is no-one else to do whatever it is that we are doing. Most of us need to use our imagination more. Going from one room to another, clearing a table, climbing the stairs, washing-up or loading the dishwasher — all provide moments we can use to turn to the Lord. And if anyone feels self-conscious about doing so, a little lonely in their desire to keep their focus on the Lord when everyone else expects them to be full of a festive spirit that seems to have nothing much to do with the Incarnation, I hope they will find encouragement in this thought. Throughout the world there are monks, nuns and countless others praying the prayer they themselves would pray if they had time. The Communion of Saints is not an abstraction. It is part of the new order ushered in by Christmas, one of the precious gifts our Saviour gives to the world.

May God grant you and those you love a very happy Christmas.


12 thoughts on “A Moment of Peace”

  1. A joyous and blessed Christmas to you all at the monastery. A poem which makes me smile:

    BC:AD. UA Fanthorpe

    This was the moment when Before
    Turned into after, and the future’s
    Unintended time keepers presented arms.

    This was the moment when nothing
    Happened. Only dull peace
    Sprawled boringly over the earth.

    This was the moment when energetic Romans’
    Could find nothing better to do
    Than counting heads in remote provinces.

    And this was the moment
    When a few farm workers and three
    Members of an obscure Persian sect
    Walked Hapharzard by starlight straight
    Into the kingdom of heaven.

  2. May I thank you for all the posts this year. Each day I try to read them and a few verses of scripture to keep in touch with the Lord, so to speak.

    Wishing you and the whole community a happy and holy Christmas.

  3. Thank you. Again. Just trying to pull the fragmented thoughts in my head into a coherent talk for an all-age communion service tomorrow, in a village a little way away. I will weave your “honest” prayer into it… So important! Jesus came to be with us in the mess of life, not waiting until we have it all sorted (whenever that might be!)
    Bless you sisters… May the peace of the Christ Child be truly yours ..

  4. Thank you,reminds me of Brother Lauwrence practising the presence of Christ .
    Other moments too bring me out of the mayhem of preparations around me that threaten to engulf !
    My advent readings spoke of a tge chance meeting of a child with special needs who stumbled upon a homeless man in a tunnel . The child never usually made physical contact and the homeless man had probably not experienced a human touch for years , The two met. They smiled . In the madness a moment of God’s love !
    Personal peace .on this Christmas Eve ! Listening to the ten best renderings of O holy Night snuggled with two best friends the dogs !
    May your Christmas be blessed and peaceful .

  5. All true, but its wonderful. The holiday rush gives purpose and I thank God for its creation. I will also cherish Mass tomorrow and look forward to being in church if only for an hour or so. God Bless and keep posting your thoughts.

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