There is snow all around, and the alluring smell of oranges and sweets is in the air. Christmas and New Year are coming… People are thronging to the stores, buying gifts and food for themselves, their family and friends. In all this hustle-bustle not all remember that the Church is also preparing to meet its greatest winter festival, the Nativity of Christ. It is preparing first of all through the church services, in which echoes of the coming solemnities are increasingly heard. Secondly, the Church offers its faithful children who are sprucing up their own homes to likewise put some effort into adorning their own souls. The Nativity fast is the perfect time to cleanse our souls from sins, and to adorn them with all kinds of virtues.
The winter season brings a sharp drop in temperatures, along with ice and snowstorms. Of course, the accompanying pre-festive mood and snowy recreation take the edge off. Every morning begins with the thermometer, and we decide accordingly what to put on. Of course, during this cold time of the year we also try to some extent to show our care for people, animals, and even plants. We wrap the young shrubs, “repost” and “like” the pictures in social networks of people saving freezing birds and animals, and help the elderly across slippery streets. We were taught in school to take care of the animals in freezing weather, just as we were taught to assist the elderly across the street.
Just the same, there are others who need our help as well. Tell me, how often have you run across pictures on the internet of a freezing man “without a permanent home” with the caption: “Let’s not allow our citizens freeze!” or “Remember, winter is cold not only for you!”
And now let’s remember how often we have come across such scenes in winter, but with cats or dogs as the main actors. So we rush to save our furry friends, at the same time talking no note of our real brothers and sisters. We are touched by stories of cats being taken in from the cold, but we hear precious few stories of people being taken in from the cold. And every year there are reports in police and hospital records of frostbitten street people, and alas, even of those frozen to death…
Can’t we intervene? At least call for help? So that there would be fewer such cases? By doing so we work a real pre-Christmas miracle for a real person. We can also go out and feed the hungry, save those in the cold.
Alas, we are swallowed up by the fuss of the coming feasts—but there is always time to do good! Even while running around from one store to another we can include a church in our pre-festive route, where we can always find out about one or another Christmas charity. Many dioceses organize benefit marathons to help poor people, needy families, and sick children. Well, we ourselves can work for someone a small or even great miracle. Perhaps we should remember more often remember St. John Chrysostom’s words about fasting:
“You are fasting? Prove it to me by your deeds. What deeds, you say? If you see a beggar give him alms; if you see an enemy, make peace with him; if you see your friend happy, do not envy him; if you see a beautiful woman, pass her by. Let not only your lips keep the fast, but also your vision, and hearing, and feet, and hands, and all the members of your body.”
So let’s tear ourselves away from the pre-Christmas and New Year hustle-bustle and start fasting for real—let’s start working these simple miracles! Winter is the time when each person can, in both the literal and figurative sense, give another the gift of warmth. Winter is a wonderful time to work kind and admirable miracles of mercy.