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Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.
Opening Prayer: Lord as the calendar year winds down, I continue to try to live in the Christmas spirit. Open my heart to your words today so that I draw the graces you have planned for me from our time together.
- Preserving Prayer: Anna spent years as a widow and, although we’re not given a specific time frame, we can assume she spent years and years in the temple, “praying and fasting.” What an interesting juxtaposition Anna’s perseverance is to our own culture’s current expectation of instant gratification. She teaches us an important lesson about persevering in prayer. How many of us would willingly wait patiently for fifty or sixty years for an answer to our prayer and fasting? God always answers our prayers in his time. “Let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).
- The Act of Praying: Anna teaches us a second lesson by the way she chose to spend her time as a widow. Although women had fewer options in her day than we do now, Anna could have sought to remarry, or she could have given up and lived a life of vice, but she stayed close to the Lord, never leaving the temple. And she occupied herself with prayer and fasting—for years. Most of us are not called to pray and fast with such singular focus, but we are called to dedicate ourselves to putting Christ first in our lives. “A commitment to disciplined structures of regularity in our spiritual practices–set times for prayer, daily Mass if possible, the reading of Scripture, the recitation of the Rosary–is an essential need. The choice to maintain disciplined habits of prayer in the pursuit of God is a necessary condition for a serious relationship with God” (Contemplative Enigmas, p. 225.)
- Galilee’s Hidden Treasure: Angels heralded him, shepherds visited him, magi traveled great distances to bring him gifts, Simeon and Anna proclaimed his kingship. Then this highly acclaimed child slipped into obscurity for the next thirty years, invisible to everyone except his holy mother and father. Yet, he grew in wisdom and strength living out these ordinary days according to the Father’s will. He sanctified family life, work, socializing—everything he did. Our lives are, for the most part, very ordinary, but because Our Lord sanctified “the ordinary” we know that our own holiness is possible. “Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it” (Josemaria Escriva).
Conversing with Christ: Lord it can be difficult to believe that the things I do every day–living my very ordinary life–is all you ask of me. Sometimes I feel like I need to do grand things to gain your attention or to convince you to answer my prayers. Of course, I can do nothing without you, and I know that you always hear me. Grant me the grace to live the little details of life well, knowing that is your will for me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pay close attention to the details of my day and look for a way to please you in everything.
For Further Reflection: 5 Ways to Sanctify Your Daily Life with St. Josemaria Escriva.
Written by Maribeth Harper.