CIESIELSKI: Making room for the light of Christ during Advent

November 23, 2021

Advent is the season of preparation to dispel the darkness in our lives to recognize and welcome more fully the light of Christ into our hearts.

If you live anywhere near the lights of the city, the lights tend to obscure the natural light radiating from the heavens. To behold the true beauty of the night skies, it is necessary to travel outside our familiar space to a place with greater visual clarity.
In our daily lives, we can foster spiritual clarity by a twofold process of decluttering and caregiving. As a homeowner, I sometimes marvel at all the stuff that I have accumulated over the years. Helping my own parents declutter and downsize their home a few years ago so they could move to a senior living community helped to motivate me to simplify my own lifestyle. I realized that there’s so much stuff that I don’t need.

As I slowly declutter stuff in my own home, I realize how emotionally attached I am to some things — that giveaway item from an Astros’ game, a collection of childhood books and travel memorabilia.

On the plus side of decluttering, I am also mindful of how simplifying my parents’ material world has made each of their life transitions a little easier to manage. When my mother moved to an assisted living community after dad died, my brother and I helped her clean out the last few boxes of their belongings.

It has freed us as a family to concentrate on what really matters: as long-distance caregivers to provide daily check-in phone calls with mom, time for an old-fashioned weekly letter writing to her, and praying with her daily. All of those things have brought us closer together.

Advent is a season that encourages us to prepare for the light of Christ’s coming by shifting our attention from that which is passing away to that which is eternal.

Sometimes there is so much clutter in our lives that to make any change feels overwhelming. The situation offers us choices — to remain paralyzed by doing nothing or to step back and start reducing the clutter, little by little, replacing it with something more meaningful, namely giving care to others. It might involve replacing one TV show with a few more minutes of prayer, a phone call to a neighbor or parish member in need, a letter written to a loved one, or a caring deed for a stranger in need.

What one thing are you willing to declutter in your life this Advent to live more freely in the light of Christ’s love? What is one caring act that you could do to bring Christ’s light and love to another person?

For information on caregiving, end-of-life care, or aging in place, visit or call 713-741-8712. †

Mark Ciesielski is an associate director in the Office of Aging Ministry.