November 30, 2010

Preparing my heart and home for Christmas

For the past week or so I have been doing a lot of thinking and researching about how to make Christ a larger part of our lives during this holiday season. During the month of December our eyes are often open to new ways we can help others and share our faith with others. I want to make sure that I am being intentional with my faith this holiday season.

I have set several goals for our family this year:

- Prepare our hearts for the Christmas season

- Evaluate our current Christmas traditions

- Create new Christmas traditions rooted Christian tradition

- Spread the joy and love of Christ in all we do

There is a common theme that I hope can be found in each of these goals:

{Serve my husband, my family and my friends through my good works and sacrifices all while drawing closer to Jesus Christ my savior and bringing others along on my journey of faith}

I stumbled across the following excerpt in a blog post from a book titled, “The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality” by Paul Murray, OP –

[C]onsidering God not so much as an ‘object’ outside of ourselves, for whose greater glory we undertake all our different works, but rather as a ‘subject’ alive within and around us, a divine Presence, ‘in whom we live and move and have our being,’ is a notion explored in No Man is an Island by the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. Inspired — Merton tells us — by something he read in the work of Johannes Tauler, the medieval Dominican mystic and preacher, he makes a distinction between two kinds of intention, a right intention and a simple intention. When we have a right intention, Merton says, ‘we seek to do God’s will’ but ‘we consider the work and ourselves apart from God and outside of Him.’ But ‘when we have a simple intention, we…do all that we do not only for God but, so to speak, in Him. We are more aware of Him who works in us than of ourselves or of our work.’

The idea of right intention vs. simple intention struck me in light of my holiday goals. I never knew I struggled with this but now it is clear to me that I do. I am definitely a "right intention" girl through and through. I see a need, I make a plan, I fulfill the need. I don’t often allow time for the Holy Spirit to intercede and guide me. As Paul Murray points out, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not that the right intention mindset is all bad and the simple intention one is all good; both can be paths to holiness. But understanding that these two different approaches exist — and having their distinctions so clearly articulated — has opened my mind to a new way of thinking.

I pray that I can have a heart of simple intention throughout this holiday season. I pray that I can allow the Holy Spirit to work in me and through me. I pray that I do not miss out on an opportunity of a God moment because I am too busy making a plan to help. I pray that I can remember Murray’s words that to adopt a mindset of only simple intentions is to shift from focusing on the work we’re doing for God, to focusing simply on God himself

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