This morning I woke up for my last early morning prayer of Advent. For this season, I have been making a point to wake up extra early on weekdays, while the sky was still fully black, to start my day with prayer and journaling.

While I am looking forward to the opportunity to sleep in until the sun is up, I am going to miss those peaceful mornings. Every day, when I rolled out of bed and stepped into the dark living room, I plugged in the Christmas tree and lit a candle to see the light gently penetrate the darkness.

Usually, as I sit there with my cup of coffee and journal, the sun will start to peak over the horizon and by the time I have finished, the sky is just starting to turn blue. Through this routine, I have grown to have a greater appreciation for how Jesus serves as a light to a dark world.

At the Silver Spring Catholic Advent retreat this past weekend, Father Paul Dressler, the guardian of Capuchin College in Washington, reminded us that Christmas was purposefully scheduled to coincide with the celebration of the winter solstice, which this year takes place Dec. 21. That means today we have the shortest day and longest night of the year.

Father Dressler explained that the pagans used to celebrate the fact that the S-U-N sun was coming back into the world to bring light, and we now get to celebrate how the S-O-N son brings a different type of light: hope in the midst of despair.

That is why this year, the Christmas song that I have been enjoying most is "O, Holy Night," which perfectly sums up this joy:

"O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn."

This Christmas, may we all find the light in whatever darkness we find ourselves in.