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Beating the Winter Blues the Catholic Way

Beating the Winter Blues the Catholic Way

Fritz Freund (1859–1936), “The Snowball Fight” (photo: Public Domain)

 

The winter is a beautiful time to commune with Our Lord in silent prayer.

 

“O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.” —Daniel 3:70

 

It’s 4 p.m. (the warmest time of the day) and it is 7 degrees below zero outside. Yesterday, it was somewhere around 15 below, and last night, probably 20 below. Last year around this time here in North Dakota, it was in the negative temperatures day and night, constantly, for about one month. Some of us lived through it, and some of us didn’t. If you don’t believe me, just Google North Dakota’s terrifying weather history stats.

Today, I went out for an oh-so-pleasant winter stroll. I wore: two huge scarves, a hat that made me look like an Eskimo in need of a make-over, bright orange fleece leggings under a jean skirt, and a puffy blue jacket that froze after I was outside for a few minutes, thermal gloves and more. It didn’t really help. Last winter, I went out for a walk, and when I came inside, the phone was ringing. I answered it, and found myself speechless. That is, speechless because my face was frozen, and I could hardly talk. It sounds funny now, and it sounded funny then.

I have an absolutely adorable newborn, and four other sweet young children whom I homeschool. We have only one vehicle that is up and running in this cold weather, so the kids and I don’t get out during the week. I’d “offer it up” but my hands are too cold to lift.

When I send my kids outside, it takes at least 20 minutes to get them dressed, and they only seem to last about four minutes outside (on a good day). When they come in, I wonder which of their body parts has frozen together this time – eyelashes, nose hairs or lips?

Yesterday, I had them run laps around the family room circle. We have a small house. My daughter ran 100. I am just hoping the foundation of our house took the stampede pretty well. We’ll find out later.

I’m buying my kids Thermos mugs for St. Valentine’s Day. They aren’t for traveling — they’re for using inside our home. You get the drift. If anyone can give you great advice on how to survive the “winter blues.” it’s me. I’m your gal. So here are a few tips:

 

Embrace the contemplative nature of winter and set up a winter prayer routine.

The winter is a beautiful time to commune with Our Lord in silent prayer. Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees and flowers and grass — grow in silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, after whom Mother Teresa was named, also knew the importance of silence, and proclaimed, “Silence does good to the soul!” As we peek out of our windows and see mounds of white snow, we can remember Our Lady of the Snows, and the purity of the Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Heart. We can also watch Mass on television (such as on EWTN or the Latin Mass on LiveMass.org), or pray as we exercise indoors.

One of my favorite things to do with my children in the winter is light a candle, walk around our home, and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Holy Face Chaplet. Instead of seeing winter as a gloomy time of the year, we can learn to view it in terms of God’s Providence. Out of his great love for us, God has given us this serene and quiet season to nurture our spirits with rest, prayer and extra time for family and friends.

Keeping a prayer journal this time of year can be a great way to make sure you offer some silent prayer time to Our Lord each day. It can help you keep track of: things you are grateful for, prayer intentions you may have, and insights the Holy Spirit shares with you. I have found A Catholic Prayer Journal for Moms by Jennifer Harbor Rainey to be extremely helpful in keeping me faithful to my prayer life in the midst of a happy but very noisy home in the depths of winter.

 

Continue to get exercise and fresh air, despite poor weather conditions.

If you wait for a nice, sunny day to get out for a walk, you may end up sitting around for weeks. Thanks to things like rain gear, attachable winter boot cleats, and inventions like Thinsulate (an interior lining put into outer gear), we can still enjoy the blessings of fresh air and exercise. Studies show that at least 50% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” which is an essential nutrient your body requires primarily to build strong bones, and for overall good health.

 

Read Aloud and Do Crafts Together

Instead of seeing winter as a time of missing opportunities to go outside, you can see it as God’s gift to you and your family. It can be a wonderful time to make lasting family memories by reading books together, doing crafts, watching family movies, playing instruments, celebrating feast days in creative ways, and praying the daily Rosary together. Sometimes in the midst of the hustle and bustle that good weather can bring, the quality time you spend as a family can become limited. God knows what we need, and he has given us every season under Heaven!

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