The 14th of December is the feast of St John of the Cross – in my opinion one of the greatest of all the Saints, because of his wisdom in dealing with the sufferings and darknesses of our everyday life. One of his most famous books is Dark Night of the Soul – a book you should read only after you have turned 30. One example of his advice is what he advised a seminarian and a bunch of nuns when they asked him: how can we become Saints really quickly? His answer? One of his four points was: Mind your own business. By this he meant two things. First of all, do not allow yourself to be distracted or discouraged by what others are doing, or the bad things happening in the world – because the undue sadness which we fall into as a result is the basis of a lot of our problems. And secondly, make sure you do what you are meant to be doing well. Lots of people (and priests) complain about the state of the Church or the World: but the Lord asks us – So what are you doing? Because if there are problems, it is in part because we are not doing what we are meant to be doing.
In the leadup to Christmas this is a good way to examine how we live our life as we prepare our hearts to welcome the baby Jesus. Because the human heart is like a manger: made by God for God, our hearts are like the manger in the stable, to be made clear and clean so that the baby Jesus can be welcomed comfortably in it. So maybe leading up to Christmas let us check each day how well we are living this advice of St John of the Cross.