The great saint of the 20th century urges Catholics to “reflect the light of the Gospel” in a world in darkness.
Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the Christmas season. Many of us will open our homes to friends and family. Emotions run high with enthusiasm and… anxiety!
That’s right, anxiety. Because families are made up of all kinds of people, and some of them are difficult, with prickly personalities. Even though you may be looking forward to reuniting with your loved ones at the holidays, you may be thinking, “If only that person who bothers me the most would decline the invitation, then everything would be perfect!”
You think: “That person annoys me!”
When you find yourself in this situation, seek the wise words of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the “saint of ordinary life.”
He offers this advice: “Don’t say, ‘That person bothers me.’ He thinks: ‘That person sanctifies me.’
Saint Josemaría was a Spanish priest who (at the young age of 26) was divinely inspired to found Opus Dei, which means “Work of God” in Latin. Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church. Its mission is “to spread the Christian message that every person is called to holiness and that every honest work can be sanctified.”
Saint Josemaría was witty, but humble. He fervently preached that every path of life could be a path of holiness. In addition, we do not have to go in search of God, “because all the roads on earth can be the occasion of an encounter with Christ.”
He promoted peace and urged everyone to do the same. He wanted each person to bring happiness to everything he encountered and to “reflect the light of the Gospel.”
The Spanish saint wrote several books brimming with practical suggestions for living a Christian life and getting closer to the Lord.
Here are 3 tips from the great saint’s book. Groove you can put into practice when you meet with your family at these parties.
1. “Prayer is a time for holy intimacies and firm purposes.” (457)
Before your family arrives, say a prayer. I like to say an Our Father, a Hail Mary and the come holy spirit prayer every morning. Ask God for peace in your home and resolve to do your part to keep the peace during the meeting. That can mean choosing to bite your tongue or deciding to engage in a conversation with that person you’d rather not talk to.
2. “It is not enough to be good; you need to show it. What would you say about a rose bush that only produces thorns? (735)
Show kindness to that person who gets under your skin. Do you have a favorite dessert or side dish? Find out and surprise him at food! You will make him feel special. You might even see a softer side to this person that you have never seen before. A simple gesture like this could be the beginning of a new and improved relationship.
3. “Practicing charity means respecting the way of thinking of others. It means rejoicing in your way to God, without trying to make them think like you or join you. (757)
You may be seeing a relative for the first time in months or even years. Perhaps she is living a life that is not in communion with the Faith. Your heart aches for her. Remind her how much you love her. Remind her how much God loves her. But leave it like that. Don’t try to force a conversion over dinner. Instead, make the decision to pray for them regularly.
“Each one will reach God by following his own path,” says Saint Josemaría. “Do not deviate from comparisons, nor from wanting to know who is higher. It does not matter; what matters is that we all reach the end.”
So this Christmas season do not hesitate to participate with those difficult loved ones that you would normally try to avoid. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity to put Saint Josemaría’s words into practice and receive a greater abundance of God’s sanctifying grace!