Advent is fast approaching and, along with it, the stress that comes with the secular holiday season. Often, the Church’s message for Advent is that we need to slow down and find some quiet time. Too often, that message is delivered as a scolding accompanied by a condemnation of the fast-paced and noisy secular celebration of the holidays. While there is plenty to critique about how our culture celebrates Christmas, the scolding approach offers little help.
Here’s an idea. How about if, along with the adult faith offerings for Advent, parishes offer 10-minute shoulder and neck massages for adults to help folks better cope with holiday stress? Many corporations offer shoulder and neck massages for their employees to help them deal with the stress of the workplace. I know that Loyola Press offered that to all of us employees some years ago and it was deeply appreciated!
Advent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus—the Word made Flesh. This is a perfect time to invite people to pay attention to their own bodies and to be thankful for the gift of good health. Parishes may have parishioners who are professionals in this area and might consider donating their services or providing them for a discount. Likewise, parishes may have businesses nearby that provide such services and are willing to provide them for a discount. The brief massages can be offered in a quiet, prayerful setting at the parish as part of the observance of Advent.
We talk about the intimate connections between body, mind, and soul, and our Catholic theology emphasizes this. We are an incarnational faith. And yet, most of our adult faith formation aims only at the head. Meanwhile, storefronts advertising spiritual wellness are popping up all over the place, offering “spiritual” massage, yoga, etc. For a faith that touts a Theology of the Body, we should do more to focus on spiritual wellness and the body within a Catholic context.
Thoughts, comments, and suggestions?