by Alex Petric
In my hometown, there are a few churches I often pass by that have roadside signs where they post phrases in an attempt to draw more attendants. These phrases usually put a smile on my face when I see them, since they’re often little religious aphorisms that bring my attention back to my faith for a moment. One phrase that has really stuck out to me, even years after seeing it, asks, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
It’s an interesting question: how great a role does prayer play in one’s life? Do we work with God every day or do we only turn to Him in times of struggle and hardship? I’ll readily admit that I don’t pray as often as a practicing Catholic like myself should. I often focus on my relationship with God when at church on Sunday, which is a good foundation, but it still leaves 6 more days when prayer only stays in my peripheral vision. Perhaps the most confusing aspect is that I feel I’ve personally experienced the results of prayer in the past and nothing really holds me back from engaging with God more, yet I still falter in my prayer life from time to time.
However, prayer isn’t the only test of our character. With each day that passes, there are countless chances to improve our relationships with others, whether it comes in the form of something as simple as holding a door for someone, or as complex as counselling a person going through great suffering and adversity. Every day becomes a chance to become a better person. Although each choice may seem insignificant, over time they can actually show much about a person’s true character. By changing how we act in these everyday interactions, we can slowly change ourselves for the better.
The Catholic Church is currently observing Advent: the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas, which are traditionally a time for Christians to prepare themselves for the holiday season. Hopefully, whatever our religious background, this season we can take some time out of shopping and decorating to develop our “Christmas spirit” and focus on and improve what is truly important in our lives, namely our relationships with God (through prayer) and other people (through our actions).
“I’m not crazy. It’s Christmas Eve. It’s the one night when we all act a little nicer. We…we smile a little easier. We…we…share a little more. For a couple of hours we are the people we always hoped we would be. It’s really a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you’re gonna burn for it. I know. You have to do something. You have to take a chance and get involved. There are people that don’t have enough to eat and who are cold. You can go and greet these people. Take an old blanket out to them or make a sandwich and say, “Here. I get it now.” And if you give, then it can happen, the miracle can happen to you. Not just the poor and hungry, everybody’s gotta have this miracle! It can happen tonight for you all! If you believe in this pure thing, the miracle will happen and you’ll want it again tomorrow! You won’t say, “Christmas is once a year and it’s a fraud.” It’s not! It can happen every day! You’ve just got to want that feeling! You’ll want it every day! It can happen to you! I believe in it now. I believe it’s gonna happen to me, now. I’m ready for it! And it’s great. It’s a good feeling. It’s better than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody.”
–Bill Murray, Scrooged