December 1, 2012
I have to be honest: Christmas music made its first appearance in my home a bit early this holiday season. I think it was about mid-August.
While my wife and I can’t resist Michael Bublé’s Christmas crooning to get us in the spirit, the holidays have always been a nostalgic time for me: Cutting a fresh evergreen the day after Thanksgiving, rolling the sugar onto batches of 98 peanut blossom cookies (with the Brach’s chocolate stars, never Hershey’s kisses) and attending late-night Christmas Eve Mass with the sisters at Annunciation Monastery are a few memories that bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.
There is another, more recent memory that has also stuck with me: The time when two buddies and I decided to take an early-December trip to visit a friend at St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities…in a snowstorm.
After experiencing an impactful discernment process early in college, I befriended two freshmen during my junior year and convinced them that they should seriously discern the priesthood. In order to do that, I told them, they had to get a firsthand taste of the seminarian lifestyle.
We planned an early Advent trip, and by virtue of our being ½ stubborn and ½ oblivious college-aged males, we set out from Fargo in my friend’s yellow Monte Carlo down I-94 to the seminary. One wrong turn, nearly zero visibility, and over six hours later, we arrived. It was one of those trips you wait at least nine days to tell your mother about.
While the blustery, blizzard-y trip won’t be forgotten any time soon, it wasn’t the only memorable part of the adventure. In addition to marveling at the holy, disciplined, yet relaxed lifestyle at the seminary, I won’t forget a sermon delivered by Fr. Paul Gitter during our stay.
His Advent message was simple: Have you asked Jesus for a Christmas present yet?
My mom is notorious for asking for Christmas gift lists remarkably early. (Maybe it’s because she comes to my house and hears Christmas music on Labor Day…) But in addition to making a Christmas list for Mom and Santa, how about sending a request to Jesus?
When is the last time you talked to Jesus? Asked Him for anything? Or, asked Him to give something to somebody else? Why not start now? After all, he did say, “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” (Mt. 21:22)
So after eating Frosty-shaped cutout cookies and listening to Celine Dion’s “O Holy Night,” try kneeling down, folding your hands and asking Jesus for a gift this Advent season. He loves to give them.