Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
Finding joy

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the Dec. 20, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell Like a child counting the days until Christmas, I find myself waiting expectantly for the day my oldest son will come home for the holidays. That’s all I want for Christmas – my family gathered together around my table.

My son was 13 the Advent season I first wrote this column on family spirituality. Now he’s preparing to graduate from college and deciding which job offer he’ll accept to begin his career. As I think back over the years, all the words I’ve written seem no more than straw, in light of the reality of God’s presence in the life of a family. I’m humbled by the possibility that my words might somehow point to that reality for you.

What words from a writer would even approach the meaning of Christmas? Looking for some new insight, some tidbit to inspire me, I opened the December issue of a newsletter for Catholic parents. The articles reminded me of many of the columns I’ve written myself through the years.

There were instructions for the Advent wreath, how to pray with your children and for a family Christmas pageant. I read five ways to curb selfishness in your kids, and three ways for parents to learn to be more patient.

These recommendations gave me no clue about joy; they just made me feel tired. Christmas is about the hope of a Babe born in a manger, a humble child who changed everything. It’s not about activities, projects and self-improvement.

Christmas is about a God who had something so important to say to us, it could only be said in person – “The Word became flesh.” The Word came among us to contradict the destructive lie that began with Adam and Eve, a terrible untruth that continues to live on in the human heart – “God doesn’t love me.”

The joy of Christmas is a love so great as to surpass our understanding, a love that breaks the bonds of slavery, brings sight to the blind and hope to the hopeless. This joy is found in unexpected places, unlikely people and odd moments.  The rush and busyness of preparing for Christmas may keep us from seeing it. At times we may wonder if it’s real among all the tinsel and twinkling lights.

What I offer you in this column is a way to find joy: the one-minute-meditation. It’s a simple form of contemplative prayer to place yourself in the presence of God whenever or wherever you are. It may be especially helpful when you feel harried or frazzled.


• Start by mentally pushing your personal pause button. If possible, close your eyes, but if you’re driving, baking or shopping, you can do this with your eyes open.
• Take two deep breaths, letting each out slowly.
• Notice your thoughts. Identify what is on your mind and just for this one moment, drop your thoughts, let them float away.
• Notice your body. If your shoulders, your neck or any part of your body holds tension, consciously relax the tightness. Relax your facial muscles and smile.
• Find joy. Maybe you’ll have to search for it. Maybe it will be abundantly clear. Find one reason it’s good to be alive and wallow in it. Take another couple of deep breathes before re-entering your activities.

Try this meditation as often as you like.

I wish you wonderful time with your family this Christmas. May we all recognize the many ways God is with us. O come, O come, Emmanuel.

© 2007, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and children’s writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at

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