Advent and Christmas is a most wonderful time of the year — and laden with stress if we let it. But lists that grow, shopping fatigue, bad assembly directions and too much eggnog all have a reset button. If we stop to take a breath, we can ask the saints of Christmas to pray for us to be filled with the peace and joy that God intended for the season.
Even if things are rolling along smoothly, life is always better with intercessors who made it to heaven by keeping a divine perspective. Here are some saints of Christmas to call upon.
Our Blessed Mother
The Mother of Jesus is our Christmas starting point. No one was ever been better prepared for Christmas despite inconvenient travel plans just before Jesus was to be born. There are two Marian devotions celebrated during the month of December. Mary as the Immaculate Conception, which refers to our Blessed Mother as conceived without sin, was proclaimed by Blessed Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854.
On Dec. 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe where she came as a pregnant virgin in three appearances to St. Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian, in Mexico during December 1531. Our Lady of Guadalupe provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his tilma, so that the bishop would believe in the apparitions. On Dec. 12, when Juan opened his tilma in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground, and the bishop sank to his knees. On the tilma, there appeared an image of Mary. The indigenous people immediately understood the symbolism within her image and that human sacrifice must cease. People converted in droves — an estimated 9 million within the next 10 years.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for our hearts to be converted completely to Christ. Blessed Mother Mary the Immaculate, pray that we are filled with God’s grace at Christmas.
St. Nicholas, the real-life Catholic bishop behind the spirit Santa Claus, was born during the third century in present day Turkey and died on Dec. 6 in 345 AD. He lived out the spirit of Christmas, making his life about Christ and giving to others. St. Nicholas gave all his inherited wealth to help the poor. Even when he was imprisoned and beaten during a time of Christian persecution, he kept the faith. His life is filled with many stories of strength and kindness.
St. Nicholas, help us to prepare for the Christ-child and to be filled with the Christmas spirit.
Angels are a big part of the Christmas story. The angel, St. Gabriel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the Mother of the Savior. St. Gabriel also announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds on Christmas morning as told in Luke 2:8-12. “Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”
Dear St. Gabriel and all the angels in heaven, may your prayers lift us closer to heaven so that the love of the Babe born in Bethlehem will fill our hearts.
For everyone feeling overwhelmed by circumstances, especially if they seem to be interfering with Christmas, St. Joseph understands. God appointed him to watch over the Blessed Mother and baby Jesus, trusting him to navigate a situation beyond his control. As the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph is the true Father Christmas.
St. Joseph, pray for us to take that first Christmas story into our hearts and learn to trust God as you did.
Saint Clare of Assisi
The Italian saint, Saint Clare, was one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. Once, she was seriously ill and saddened that she would miss Christmas Eve Mass. She was mystically carried to the Church of Saint Francis to be present and even receive Holy Communion, then brought back to her bed.
When the nuns returned, Saint Clare, she exclaimed, “My sisters and dearest daughters, I give thanks and praise to Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, because I have been present at all the solemnities of this holy night, and at greater ones than you have been, with much consolation to my soul. For by the intercession of my father Saint Francis and by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the ears of my body and spirit I heard the whole Office and the music of the organ there and in that very place I received Holy Communion. Therefore, rejoice and thank God for such grace shown to me.”
St. Clare, pray for us that we too will be deeply consoled by the beauty of Christmas Mass.
Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first Nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, in central Italy. An historical account on it comes from The Life of St. Francis of Assisi by St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan monk who was born five years before Francis’ death.
St. Francis desired to bring the true meaning of Christmas into everyone’s heart, so he set up a manger with hay and two live animals—an ox and an ass—in a cave. He invited people to look upon it while he preached about “the babe of Bethlehem.” From that point on, nativity scenes began to spread throughout Europe and beyond.
St. Francis, help us to choose simplicity and holiness over commercialism.
And all of you saints and angels in heaven, pray for peace and joy to fill us. Most of all, dear Jesus, fill our hearts with your love so that it will shine forth from us to others on Christmas Day.