As I have gotten older my priorities have changed, and so has my Christmas wish list. Honestly, I wish I had more time to spend with the people that mean the most to me. I wish I worried less and trusted in God more. I wish I were more patient and less judgmental. I wish I laughed more, and loved more, and lived life more fully. Material things just don’t seem to matter much to me anymore. And so, with that in mind, I made my Christmas list a week or so ago, and here’s what I decided to do. This year I’m not going to ask for material things — no gloves, scarves, or hats for me! To be honest, I have more things than I’ll ever use or need. So instead of asking for tangible gifts this year, I share with you my Christmas wish list. I’m going to remember the gifts that I was given at Confirmation, and I’m going to pray that I make better use of those gifts that only God can give — the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I’m going to pray for the gift of wisdom. I’ve discovered that it takes wisdom to discern God’s will. Wisdom allows us to see God at work in our lives, and wisdom also allows us to distinguish that which is of God, and that which isn’t. Wisdom allows us to see that we are capable of transforming ourselves from within.

I’m going to pray for understanding. Understanding gives us the opportunity to delve deeper into our faith. Through understanding we are able to read and comprehend sacred Scripture. Understanding aids us in leading a Christian life.

I’m going to pray for counsel, often referred to as right judgment. Counsel gives us the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, sacred and sinful.

I’m going to pray for fortitude or courage — courage to trust in God, courage to speak out against injustice, courage to accept God’s will. 

I’m going to pray for the gift of knowledge; knowledge permits us to understand and interiorize God’s commands and walk in right paths.

I’m going to pray for the gift of piety or reverence — perhaps the most important gift we can pray for, especially for those of us involved in parish ministry. When we are imbued with a sense of piety, we enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. When we exhibit reverence, our ministry and our liturgy cannot become routine or banal. When piety becomes a part of our everyday lives, we are able to cope with the stress that the busyness of church often brings.

I’m going to pray for the gift of the “fear of God.” Often misunderstood, fear in this instance refers to our awareness of God’s awe, majesty, and power. 

Without these gifts of the Holy Spirit, it is impossible for anyone to maintain life as a Christian. 

I decided I’m going to pray for one more gift. I pray that I have the patience to allow God to work through me and in me, and the patience to trust God’s plan for my life. It’s not easy. Patience has never been a virtue of mine. But I know that I can trust God to hear and respond to my prayer.

As we approach Christmas, amid all the madness of shopping, and parties, and the endless lists of things that absolutely must be done, may we never forget that we celebrate the greatest gift the world has ever known — Jesus Christ — God himself, come to earth because He loved us. 

May we never forget to live our faith and our commitment to the Gospel. May we be the hands and feet of Christ: reach out to the poor and marginalized: stand up for justice and peace: and speak up for those who have no voice. May we be Christ’s presence in the world as we celebrate God’s gift to the world, Christ Jesus Our Lord. No other gift compares! 

And that my friends, is the Good News! I wish you all a blessed and holy Christmas season and God’s richest blessings in the coming year.

“For unto us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6).

Anchor columnist Ada Simpson is former editor of Ministry and Liturgy magazine, holds an M.A. in Pastoral Ministry, and is the director of Music Ministry at St. Francis and St. Dominic parishes in Swansea.