Arts & Faith: Christmas Imaginative Prayer Exercise

Geertgen tot Sint Jans - The Birth of Christ

Each week of Advent, we’ve provided an Ignatian prayer for you, inspired by a video from Arts & Faith: Advent. Today we share the video and prayer for Christmas Day. The art is The Birth of Christ by Geertgen tot Sint Jans.

“No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”

—John 1:18

Preparation

As we begin this time of quiet prayer, I invite you to find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight and your legs planted on the ground. Allow yourself to notice your breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Take a few moments and close your eyes, preparing yourself to listen to what God may be saying to you during this time of prayer. As you sit with your eyes closed, use these or similar words: “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.” When you are ready, open your eyes and pray.

Seeing the Face of God

It’s two o’clock in the morning Christmas Day. The lights in the house are off except for those on the tree. All the weeks of preparation are over. This year you went to Midnight Mass. The church was beautifully decorated with white and red poinsettias. The choir sang all the hymns that you love. You felt lifted up. The Mass filled you with joy and hope. But when you came home, there was something inside you that felt cold and empty. Perhaps I’m already feeling the holiday blues, the letdown even before it’s all over, you think. Watching the lights on the tree you remember the anticipation you felt as a child. It was so strong that it hurt inside your chest. Smiling, you close your eyes thinking of that time—a time when Christmas and life seemed simpler.

You begin to fall asleep, not a deep sleep, but that moment when you are half-awake and half-asleep. Dreaming, you see yourself walking along the streets of downtown. It’s dark and you’re alone. You look around and see no one else, not even cars on the streets. There is light from the street lamps and the store windows. You look up and see a night sky filled with light from the stars and moon.

As you turn a corner, you look down an alleyway. There is a bright yellow light softly glowing from a garage. You’re drawn to that light. As you approach, you hear people talking, but you can’t make out what they are saying. When you reach the door, you see people gathered around a makeshift crib or bassinet. Squirming inside, all arms and legs, is a baby. Everyone is looking at the baby. Standing outside the garage, a man approaches you. He smiles and asks, “What are you looking for?”

You look at him, trying to remember how you know him. “I was out walking and saw the light from the garage, so I came up the alley.”

He looks at you, his eyes soft and warm, and then you know who he is. It’s Jesus. What do you say to him? How does Jesus respond to you?

Jesus stands beside you. He reaches out and puts his hand in yours. You feel such peace, such joy it hurts inside your chest like it did when you were a child. No more words are spoken. You stand there with Jesus, both gazing at the small, helpless child. You realize that in this baby’s face you are seeing the face of God. You begin to wake up. Your eyes glance over to the nativity scene you’ve had since you were a child. You look at the baby Jesus and you smile. All is well, you think. All is well.

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

About Steve Connor 21 Articles
Steve Connor has served in various catechetical positions for over 30 years. As a pastoral associate, Steve worked with RCIA, adult education, and family faith formation. He has given numerous parish missions and retreats throughout the United States. Steve has a M.Div. from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

3 Comments on Arts & Faith: Christmas Imaginative Prayer Exercise

  1. Thank you Steve for this article. I really felt the presence of Jesus with me in my reflection. What a beautiful start to my day.

  2. Sometimes during the Christmas season we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and forget the real meaning of Christmas.

  3. Thank you to Steve Connor for this Christmas reflection. It is a beautiful way to close the season of Advent and enter into Christmas. I was deeply moved by the memories it evoked and then in the portrayal of Jesus’ presence and thought of the “real reason for the season.” We have a Savior and ‘all is well.’ O Holy Night…
    A blessed Christmas to all. Suzanne

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