How to prepare properly for Christmas

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By Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol
The period leading up to Christmas is especially blessed by God, because it leads usliturgically and festively to the main day, where the Orthodox Church celebrates the eventof Christ's birth. Like all the feasts of our Church, Christmas does not only have acommemorative character, but the main purpose is for man to share in this grace, whichGod gives through the feasts of our Church.
It has been observed through the experience of the Saints and Fathers of our Church thatthese days are distinguished for the overflowing grace that is diffused by God and theHoly Spirit to the faithful and are stations in our lives from which we can draw this graceand the communion of the Holy Spirit.
Of course, every day we celebrate the mystery of the birth of the Word of God and weparticipate in the whole life of the Lord by celebrating the Eucharist.
Our Church has handed us some things which, by observing them, help us to progressspiritually. First she prepares us with a period of fasting. Fasting helps man detach hismind from earthly things, helps his nous in prayer, pushes the heart to seek Divine Grace,moves the heart to prayer and union with the nous, cleanses the body of the impulsestowards the passions and sin. In general, as a means, which Christ Himself delivered tous, it is considered by the Fathers that it is one of the first and basic weapons in the spiritual struggle. Of course, fasting is not only about food. It is the fasting from all ourdesires, expenses, types of clothes, events, and basically in what we hear and in what wesee.
Since it is a time of fasting, it is also a time of almsgiving. The early Christians during thefast had the remaining money they had left over from everyday things for almsgiving.
Another spiritual weapon is confession. We come to the mystery of confession in order tocleanse our souls of all that we as human beings have acquired in our daily events andthe adventures of our daily life. God does not demand that we become sinless, becausethis is outside of our nature. In our weakness we are faced with passions, sins,weaknesses and our shortcomings. Sin is not only the violation of God's law, but also thelack of our love for God, the failure of turning our soul towards God. The fact that we arecalled to love God absolutely and yet we cannot respond is the essence of our sin.
Besides fasting, almsgiving and confession, another spiritual weapon is prayer. Duringthis time, if the Christian fills his time with prayer, especially with the monologue of noeticprayer and the invocation of the name of Christ, he will have continuous communion withGod, which prepares the heart for communion with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"

Mathew 28:19