This was the traditional beginning of monastic fasting and preparation for the feast of Christmas, reflecting Lent in lasting for forty days. We seek to prepare the way for the Lord to come right to the centre of our lives. Every valley and pot-hole should be filled in, every mountain and hill levelled and every obstacle removed. The mountains are the wrongs we do, and the pot-holes are the good things we fail to do.

It is said that the door to the stable where the Christ-child has been born is very low – and only those who kneel find access. Being ready for Christmas should mean that our thoughts are focused not just on letters, cards, food and drink, and presents, but on repentance, humility and interior ‘house-cleaning’. The more we prepare in this way, the less we will be overwhelmed by the commercialisation of Christmas.

Prepare a way for the Lord!

Show me, Lord Jesus, how I may best prepare to celebrate Your birth into this world. Show me those things I need to repent of, that I may find Your forgiveness. Show me how to avoid the greed and selfishness of this season and focus on what is truly essential. Amen.