Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

November 26, 2012

Advent Meditation: The Birth of Christ

With the simplicity and wonder of the shepherds, we find God, who is one like us, born of the flesh. Inspired by Luke 2:6-20, this guided meditation is written by Fr. Thomas Catcci. Choose instrumental Christmas music to play in the background. Have your students find a comfortable place and close their eyes. Read the meditation. Pause slightly on each ellipse. Pause slightly longer on paragraph breaks. Total time: 11 minutes.

And we pray: Lord Jesus Christ...

Be with us as we meditate... Guide us in our prayer... For we trust in you... And in your Holy Spirit directing our thoughts and our dreams to discovering you in our lives... Be with us Lord... Guide us in peace... Stay near... Be near...

With your eyes still closed... Travel past the sunset... Into the darkness of a winter in ancient Israel... Gliding over a huge desert...you can see a large cliff ahead of you... Come to rest on that cliff...overlooking the desert... You are alone... And very safe... And nothing can harm you...

The heat of the desert has cooled... It's winter...but still warm... Feel how pleasantly comfortable you are...

Look around you... Ahead of you is the vast expansive desert... Outlined in moonlight... If you look with care...the darkness of the night is broken with a slight flow at the horizon...the final curtain of the day... Breathe deeply...notice how clean the air is...how clear...how sweet... Overhead you can see a multitude of starts...so many stars

As if you are standing in the middle of...and yet beneath...all the constellations... Clusters of stars twinkle and blink above you...

Turn around and see the most wondrous gathering of stars imaginable... There...to your right... A star that seems brighter than the rest...near the horizon... As if four or five stars cluster together... An incredibly bright mark in the sky... One or two stars in the cluster...seem to hand a little lower than the others... As if pointing to the earth... Pointing to someplace in the desert... They blink...they pulse...as if they want you to notice something special...

You search... Leaving the cliff...lifting up from the ground...gliding toward those bright starts on the horizon... Follow your instinct...follow your curiosity...follow the star... Look down and notice a few tents huddled beneath you...on that plateau...and their campfires...flickering...glowing... Continue to fly...toward the outskirts of the city up ahead... A city with thick and heavy walls... An ancient city with many dirty streets...with flickering torches...in the doorways... Passing a large building...you can hear voices and the noise of people eating and drinking... You can hear laughter...and singing... And it's crowded...too crowded... Continue on... Gliding over the furthest city wall...back to the quiet... To the countryside...

Up ahead...a ridge of small hills... Then coming nearer, you see openings...the entrances to caves... One seems to glow...lit with a large campfire at the entrance... And above...the tar cluster seems to point here... As if you were standing directly beneath the tail of the star... Rest here a moment...outside the cave...

Look around... Listen...hear the muffled sounds of sheep...bedding down for the night...content Walk through the flock... They part quickly...making a path for you... Up ahead...several men sit and lean close to the opening of the cave... Two are bald...with white beards... There are a couple of younger men... And three young boys...just children... They all wear soft, warm animal hides...sandals...they carry wineskins and long staffs... They turn and look at you...silently... And they smile...their faces almost glow with wonder...with joy... A wonderful thing has happened... God has done something great here...now...and you are part of it... The shepherds seem proud...happy... And they step back, out of your way...as if they had been expecting you... Is there anything you want to say to them?... Anything you want to do?

They point toward the entrance of the cave... You approach...slowly...enter...and look around... There are cows, a few goats, a donkey... Everything is hushed...even the animals...so satisfied...so still... Beneath you...there is soft straw to walk on...dry...clean...crisp... Step closer...into the light... There are two figures...resting...beside the flickering fire...

You can feel the warmth of the firs on your face... A woman holds a bundled baby sleeping quietly... The husband looks so proud of his wife and newborn... He turns to you..to welcome you...to lead you...to the mother and the baby... Is there anything you want to say to him?... Anything you want to do?...

The mother leans against a thick pile of straw... She holds the child close to her...cradled in her arms and wrapped in tattered strips of cloth... Then she looks up into your eyes and smiles... She is so very proud... She lifts the cover from his face so you can see... The baby...beautiful...happy...blinks...smiles... And something deep within you knows that God has been born into the world... Here...now...God has become human...become just like you... God has been born...a new baby...

The light from the fire seems to make his face glow...so bright... Then the mother invites you to come closer... She raises her arms...offering the child to you... She slides the new born baby into your waiting arms... You can feel the warmth..the softness..the movement of gentle new life... Life... The life of God...in your arms..fragile and alive...and so real... Is there anything you want to say?.... Anything you would like to do?....

And the mother explains that she has been asked...by God..to take care of Jesus... She is to care for him...until he is old enough to be given to the world... To protect him...nurture him...and to love him... But she need your help... Can you?...Can you help care for this child of God?... Can you help God grow?...Can you care for him with love?... Is there anything you would like to say?... Anything you would like to do?...

Mary gently...carefully...takes the baby back into her arms... She tells you that you also have God...within you... And God must grow there too... Your task is to bring God to the world as well... And she can help you with that...

Mary asks if God can use your hands to help others... She takes your hands...kisses them softly...making your hands holy... Then she asks if God can use your ears to hear the cry of others... Then she gently kisses your ears...anointing them... She asks if God can use your heart to love others... And she softly touches your heart with her kiss to consecrate your heart to God... She hugs you in her arms with the infant baby... And thanks you...

She nods to you...and you now know...that within you...rests Jesus... Ready to grow... Ready to use your hands... To use your ears... And to love others with your heart...Christ's heart...

Be at peace... Know that God will always remain within you... And will never leave... God will always love others through you... Know how sacred you are... Feel the loving heart of God within you... And be at peace... And rest...

Think of all you've seen... All you've heard... And all you've felt... And know that God is ready within you... In your hands, your arms, your heart... And you can bring him to others so they will know God too... He is within... Within...

When you're ready to leave Israel...and come back here... Know that God is still with you...and will never leave... You are not alone... There are so many people who need you... And need God... Now come back here... And be at peace... When you're ready you may slowly open your eyes... And I would ask you not to talk to others or distract them... Just quietly think about what you've experienced... And be at peace... Peace.

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