One of my favorite things to do is to read past World Youth Day messages and homilies. They always leave me inspired and call me to live a life with and for Christ. After each message, I am ready to live out the strongest desires of my heart and boldly proclaim the Gospel.
Recently, I read Pope Francis’ most recent World Youth Day message, one that focused on the theme of Luke 7:14, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” Our Holy Father Francis says to the youth of the world:
If you have lost your inner vitality, your dreams, your enthusiasm, your optimism, and your generosity, Jesus stands before you as once He stood before the dead son of the widow, and with all the power of His resurrection He urges you: ‘Young man, I say to you, arise!’
Arising in the Winter
Sometimes during these long winter months, I feel like that young man. In moments of the darkness this season can bear, I need to be reminded of the hope and new life the Resurrection brings. I need to listen to the voice of Christ who is telling me to arise! There is a mission that I need to be living out, the mission to live with and for Christ and to love others as I love myself. The time for that mission is now, no matter what season it is.
Five Ways to Spiritually Combat the Winter Blues
Here are five ways that I hear Christ’s voice clearly inviting me to arise. Whenever I feel down, anxious, unmotivated, fearful, low on energy, or worried, doing one of these five things always helps. We are called to bear Christ’s light to the world. And within these winter months, hold onto the words that another holy Francis said, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
1. Read the lives of the Saints.
The Saints give us insight into the Kingdom of Heaven. Their lives, their writings, and their miracles inspire us and act as a sort of spiritual nourishment. It’s so comforting to know that these very real men and women overcame the lure of worldly power, fame, honor, and pleasure. They accomplished incredible feats within their lifetimes, and brought many people (and still do) to Christ. Even reading a quote by your favorite Saint can be a much needed boost of confidence, a consolation, and food for the journey.
The lives of the Saints give us hope. They are friends in the battle, friends on the hard road, friends that compel us to a greater joy. We realize that the men and women now in Heaven experienced similar feelings as us: joys, frustrations, sorrows. Their stories reveal to us how to combat the temptation of despair and rather place our hope and trust in Christ. Their lives inspire us to live with and for Christ.
Pick a few Saints this winter to learn more about. Look up some quotes by them or read their writings. Celebrate their feast days! Look up the patron Saint of something you are struggling with and read their story, exploring how they were able to bring Beauty Himself into their lives, environment, and situations.
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2. Attend daily Mass. If this isn’t possible, read the daily Mass readings.
The most intimate way to unite ourselves to God here on earth is to receive Him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He is the Life and the Resurrection. When we eat His Body and Drink His Blood we have life in abundance within us. He grasps us by the hand and helps us to arise, like the young man in Luke 7:14. We are filled with Life and Life in abundance (John 10:10).
Jesus, the Word, speaks to us through the Word we encounter in the daily Mass readings. Many times I have gained insight, knowledge, understanding, and clarity in decisions through the daily Mass readings and homilies.
Attending Mass allows us not only to consume the Body of Christ but also to be surrounded with His Body, the men and women who are His members. We are never alone in our Faith, we are part of a powerful community that upholds us in prayer, support, and love. Going to Mass, even if there are only one or two other people in attendance, shows us that we are one another’s keepers. We are the Body of Christ, we are His Light in this world.
3. Stick to a routine, no matter how you feel.
So often during the winter months I’d rather stay in a cozy, warm bed five more minutes instead of getting up to pray. Yet I always regret when I do that, and I never once have regretted praying.
Two years ago I made a promise to myself. I decided that I would be faithful to morning prayer each day no matter how I felt. My prayer started out small, just five minutes each morning, yet I remained faithful to my promise. Now, two years later, I see that fidelity to God and to myself has transformed my life.
The fruit of that decision extended into every aspect of my life. I began challenging myself to be faithful no matter the circumstance or my feelings not just in my prayer but also in my daily tasks and duties. Establishing and remaining faithful to a routine, that includes time for God, ourselves, our family, our work, our hobbies, leisure, and our friends allows us to thrive and grow. It leads to both freedom and simplicity. It leads to joy. It allows us to give from a place of abundance.
Servant of God Luis Maria Martinez wrote that:
The secret of the spiritual life consists in this: that we try, with a spirit of faith and with sincerity of heart, to unite ourselves to God in the midst of all the vicissitudes of life. -SOG Luis Maria Martinez #BISblog // Click To Tweet
The secret of the spiritual life consists in this: that we try, with a spirit of faith and with sincerity of heart, to unite ourselves to God in the midst of all the vicissitudes of life. Our life is so complex! So very many elements enter into it! We are affected by everything, even the weather. Therefore, the wise course is not to analyze those states but to withdraw our spiritual life from them in order that nothing and nobody may rob us of our treasure. Let us learn how to guard our treasure equally well at midnight and at high noon, whether the tempest is unleashed, or the sun shines brilliantly in a cloudless sky.
4. Pray for holy friends and be a holy friend.
Surrounding ourselves with motivating, uplifting, holy, goal-oriented people fills us with inspiration and joy. So often Christ speaks to us through our friends. Our friends may be the ones who tell us to arise! Holy friends are a gift from God that we must pray for every day. Yet we must also pray to be a holy friend to others.
Each day we must grow in virtue, not only for our own holiness, but for the holiness of others. All we think, say, and do affects not just ourselves, but others, too. Are our thoughts, words, and actions allowing us to grow into the friend we want to be to others? We must pray to God for friends who we can glorify God with in this life and the next.
5. Do an act of charity.
Whenever I feel myself turning inward, the one remedy that always works to curb this is doing something for someone. My go-to for this is making a meal for someone. My love language is food and I feel so loved when someone makes me a meal! The way I express my love the best is by making something delicious for someone. I pray for that person and their family as I prepare dinner and dessert for them and drop it off.
Doing something for someone, whether it’s writing a note, creating a spiritual bouquet, cooking a meal, praying a Rosary, or volunteering with a religious order—truly anything done in love for another—uplifts our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.
Here For You
This winter season, rest in God’s love for you. No matter what season, He wants you to live with Him, in Him, and for Him. If you are struggling this winter, know you are loved by our Creator and surrounded by a community that is here for you.
Do you struggle in the winter? What are some ways you boost your soul?