The devil never goes on vacation; he is always at work, but especially in the Holiday Seasons. The devil is always astutely planning to throw up spiritual roadblocks to prevent Jesus from entering fully into our lives; this is true especially around the Christmas Season!

As soldiers on guard, as athletes fighting to win the championship game, as boxers with the left-guard up, we must be constantly on the watch for the enemy of our soul and his crafty, insidious, wily, and constant traps that he plants and plans for us to slip and fall into.

St. Peter compares the devil to a roaring lion on the loose looking for whoever he has a chance to devour. (I Peter 5: 8-9) We are called to resist him by being solidly rooted in our faith in Jesus. Jesus must be the solid rock foundation of our faith and our lives, and at all times! (Mt. 7:24-29—The Parable of the House on two foundations)

Therefore, the purpose of this short essay is to highlight and point out five grinches that are out to diminish the super-abundant graces that the Lord Jesus has in store for you every Christmas. Let us pull down and pull off their masks and not allow ourselves to fall into easy deception!

"I want two more dollies!!!"
1.    MATERIALISM.  There is an ubiquitous, ever-present danger of succumbing to the lie of materialism, especially concerning Christmas. For many, possibly most, Christmas is a season of shopping (“Shop until you drop”) buying and consuming. This is the air that we breathe daily in the United States.  How ironic indeed it is: the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. He was rejected even before He was born—“There was no place for Him in the Inn.”(Lk. 2:7) His birthplace? A stable! Imagine the environs and milieu of a stable: refuge for animals, cold, damp, stench, musty, hard ground, etc.  Venerable Fulton J Sheen waxing poetic states it simply:  The Creator of the universe had nowhere to be born in his own creation.” Therefore, do not allow materialism to suffocate Jesus from being born this Christmas day.  Put poetically:  Jesus is the reason for the season.  Christmas is not so much a season of things, but a season of a human GIFT.  The “Gift of Gifts” every Christmas is Jesus born in the stable of Bethlehem for love of you and me, born to save our immortal souls for all eternity!

Clinging to sin, we drop God!
2.    CLINGING TO SIN.   The great Saint Jerome, saintly scholar, who translated the Bible from Greek and Aramaic into Latin, had a vision of the Infant Child Jesus around Christmas. The Bible scholar, moved by an impulse of great generosity, wanted to offer the Child Jesus a gift. The saint began to suggest gifts: his penances, long prayers and vigils, his Bible translations, and much more. But the Child Jesus wanted something more important. He revealed to Saint Jerome that the best gift that he could offer Him for His birthday would be to give to Jesus his sins! Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year of grace, a year of mercy from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (2015), up to Nov 20, (2016). Why not in preparation for Christmas, the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, clean out the dirty, cold, hard, musty and smelly stable of your soul with a good sacramental confession. This is the true Christmas spirit: dying to sin and returning to the life of grace!  The Child Jesus is anxiously waiting for you with His little arms open in the confessional! The name Jesus means Savior; He came to save us from the slavery of sin!

Be reconciled with your loved ones!
3.    UNFORGIVENESS AND RESENTMENTS.   Christmas is a season of peace, joy, love and sharing. An enormous roadblock iHin the lives of many is holding on to past resentments and an unwillingness to forgive. Jesus states clearly what we must do; and it is basically overcoming our deeply engrained pride!  We must leave our Christmas-gift at the foot of the altar; then we must go and reconcile and make up and come to terms of peace with this person with whom we are bearing a grudge!(Mt. 5:1-26) This is the true spirit of Christmas: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”((Lk. 6:36) Or as we pray every day in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”(Mt. 6:12) By forgiving and reconciling with this person who has hurt us then indeed we are setting the captives free!  That captive or slave that will be set free is you! Christmas must be a time of freedom from the yoke and slavery of anger and resentment due to lack of forgiveness!  Come Lord Jesus, come Lord Jesus and set the captives free and that captive is me!!!”(Is.42:7)
Work overload!!!

4.    ACTIVISM/HORIZONTALISM/ “MARTHAISM”!  Frenetic activity, nervous tension, nerves on end, anxiety and stress to the max, on the move 24/7 travelling a mile a minute, rushing like a chicken with his head cut off--- all this succinctly expresses the state of being of millions of individuals as Christmas quickly approaches! All of this is as a result of a lack of a deep union with Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph in our prayer life. Unfortunately our modern world prioritizes work over prayer, the material over the spiritual, having over being, the body over the soul and temporal over the eternal. The reason for this is crystal clear: lack of a deep interior life or contemplative life or if you like, lack of a fervent and dynamic prayer life!  How the hearts of Jesus and Mary would rejoice if the days preceding Christmas were characterized by visits to the Blessed Sacrament—the House of Bread. Actually Bethlehem means House of Bread.  Better yet, not only to visit Jesus in the Tabernacle, but to attend Holy Mass and receive Him in the depths of your soul in daily Holy Communion. Your soul becomes a mystical “Bethlehem” (House of Bread) every time you receive Jesus worthily in Holy Communion. What a superb manner to overcome activism! What a great way to go from the frenetic “Martha” to the calm and contemplative Mary! Like Mary may we sit at the feet of Jesus listen to Him, talk to Him and love Him; and then receive Him into our homes, that is—our hearts in Holy Communion.(Lk. 10: 38-42—Martha and Mary)

Look into the eyes of Mary
5.    FROM THE NOISY HEART OF THE WORLD TO THE QUIET AND CONTEMPLATIVE HEART OF MARY.  We live in a world that suffers many types of pollution: air pollution, crime pollution, water pollution, but there is another: NOISE POLLUTION! When Pope Benedict was talking to seminarians in New York a few years back he commented on the fact that the youth today are bombarded by so many noises that they find it difficult to hear the voice of God speaking to their hearts. As we draw closer to the stable of Bethlehem, to the BABY lying on the hay in the manger, let us draw close to the most pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us fervently beg Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of the Church, as well as our spiritual Mother for the grace to find refuge in her Immaculate Heart. Let us beg for the grace to listen attentively to the Sacred Heart of Jesus beating in the depths of her Immaculate Heart. If done then we will most assuredly capture the true meaning of Christmas!