There are two themes that “right off the bat” I would label as practices meant to open our hearts. The first theme is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. On a basic level it is meant as a gift to us to experience the Salvation Christ offers by the confession and forgiveness of our sins. Go deeper, and you can see that it is also a means for us to practice – Truth. We can get a sense of this idea by the teaching of the Church on the difference between the concepts of “sins of commission” and “sins of omission.” Here we are taught to confess the sins that we have indeed already committed (commission), and then, if possible, to confess that which we could have done, but didn’t (omission). With this dual concept we are able now to look at our personality, our character, our soul if you will, with a huge spiritual magnifying glass. For those of us willing to integrate and practice such a Church teaching, we are increasingly able to see ourselves truthfully, and if we are still willing, to then open ourselves to being corrected by God, and in this way conform ourselves more fully to His Likeness. We will know, if we are being open, that we are more loving as a result of such a practice.
The second theme is what we are immersed in right now. This is the Christmas season and it is one of giving. But here too we are always invited to a deeper movement of the Spirit. Just as with the Sacra-ment of Reconciliation where we begin with a simple confession of sins, at Christmas we begin with the simple act of giving gifts. Now, just as with the Sacrament of Reconciliation we move deeper by consid-ering what we could have done but did not (sins of omission), in this Season of giving we move deeper by considering what a gift means, and as a result of such a reflection, perhaps ask ourselves what else could a gift be?
I can give the gift of an object, such as clothing, or toys, or that special something one knows that somebody wants. But again, as a result of reflecting, one might see the importance of the gill of prayer. We can pray in a special way for somebody! How about the gift of thinking fondly of somebody? To spend time considering somebody one thinks of only critically, and to reflect on their good or strong points instead. How about simply thinking of why one is grateful of everybody in one’s life, regardless of what one feels about them? After all, there is that ancient concept that God puts the people we know in our lives for a reason. Here is where the lessons are. Within our relationships is our potential for our own growth. It is only potential now. I can choose to actualize this potential or not by a practice such as this one.
In the Christmas Season, we are given the chance to really actualize our potential by remembering that our giving objects as gifts is symbolic for its deeper meaning, which is that we are learning the im-portance of the giving of ourselves. Like the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we have to begin somewhere, so typically Christ has us begin at the surface level. It’s a way of getting our feet wet, so to speak. Re-member how the Church traditionally taught that there are two types of Contrition, imperfect and per-fect? With the first I am sorry because I am fearful of hell, and with the second I am sorry for offend-ing God’s Love? This teaching demonstrates what spiritual growth looks like. It is a movement ever deeper into meaning. Once again, we know if we are being open to a deeper understanding of Christ’s teachings if we are increasingly more loving.
In this Christmas Season, let’s choose to go deeper, and as a result of our choice leave this season more loving than before. Such increasing loving behavior will remind us that we, very much in imitation of Christ, are also a gift to the world. With such a movement Christ is born again. Merry Christmas!