Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Traditions

Those little feet that race down the stairs to see what Santa has left under the tree. How blessed we are to have those little feet!

We start our morning by going to Mass and the children are able to "wait" until after we visit baby Jesus to open their presents. A Christmas miracle in and of itself.

The wrapping paper wizzes through the air and the stockings come flying off the mantel, the squealing of delight replaces the carols that are now mere background noise. How beautiful and thrilling it is to live Christmas through children's eyes. But how do we keep them focused on the real reason why we wrap these gifts and sing Halleluia chorus?

Lest we forget today is a great birthday party? How could we go without singing happy birthday to our Savior and King?

When our children are little we have the great opportunity to start and continue traditions that have been passed down to us. We started one new tradition this year and have continued another, all to remind us why we are gathering and celebrating. Jesus!

This year, for Christmas dinner (the 24th) we decided to bring in a Polish tradition from David's ancestors. This year we shared Oplatki Christmas wafers before we began our Christmas meal. 

This is a moment when the family can "break bread" together using a wafer similar to the one used to for communion hosts only they are embellished with Christmas scenes. We broke the bread and then asked for forgiveness from one another for things we may have done to hurt each other. It is a beautiful way to welcome the child, Jesus. This allows us to clean out our hearts and homes, so to speak, in order to make room for the child Jesus who is to come later that evening.

Forgiveness is essential so that we can welcome the peace and joy of Christmas. Forgiveness is beautiful when done with humility and on the threshold of Jesus' birth.

The next tradition we have maintained for a few years now is that of making a birthday cake for Jesus and singing happy birthday to Him. This is a very simple way to remind ourselves and especially the children, why it is that we celebrate this joyous occasion. Just like any other birthday, we sit around a table and sing happy birthday, lit candles and all, to the One who has given us life and Salvation.

We also consecrated ourselves to the child Jesus before the image of the baby. What is more, fitting than to give your life to the little tiny baby who has come to give us new life?

May baby Jesus bring you all the tenderness, love and hope that only He can bring this  Christmas season. Happy birthday Jesus!

What traditions do you have to celebrate the birth of Our Lord?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Reason no. 28, 29 and 30 of why I remain Catholic

I'm back! Reasons no. 28-30 are the clinchers that I just didn't have time to post. Life got crazy as it usually does with family and littles. But here are my last three reasons why I remain Catholic:

Reason no. 28: Sinfulness. Yes, sinfulness. In the world we live today, anything goes and sin is no longer recognized. "Do what you want" says anyone, as long "as you don't hurt others." But doing what we want has a lot of consequences because not everything we want is good for us and really, we've got to call a spade a spade. We are sinful. We are proud. We are imperfect and believe it or not recognizing sin does not stop at guilt, but leads us to repentance (the purpose of guilt) and the action of asking for forgiveness (confession). Now the idea behind all of this is to seek to do better and not go down that path again. Yes, we might fail again. Or maybe not. But the fact of the matter is because we can recognize that sin exists, as Christians, we can recognize that we are in need of grace and in turn in need of a Savior. JESUS!

Reason no. 29: Beauty. Ok, what does beauty have to do with being Catholic? Everything! In short, to seek the One True God is to seek all that is Good, True and Beautiful because He is the source of it all. It is beauty that pulls us towards Him. The issue is, do we recognize that beauty comes from God and do we allow our hearts to be moved by beauty so that we may praise God? The beauty of a sunset. The beauty of a face. The beauty of the first time you hold your child's hand. The beauty of order. All this beauty comes from the God who is the source of Beauty. It is through the beauty of the Church, and in seeing past the grit and grime of the Church, that I am moved to recognize the majesty of God.

Reason no. 30: Joy. Let's face it, life is tough. Yes, we all want to be happy, but happiness is fleeting. Happiness is an emotion that depends upon our circumstances and can be experienced in varying degrees. Joy, on the other hand, is something that can be lived despite our circumstances. The best example of this can be found in the lives of the saints. Even in the most troubling of circumstances, sickness, persecution, and even, dare I say it, unhappiness, they were able to hold on to joy. This is only possible because joy comes from God alone. Our salvation is our hope and this hope, that is our sustenance, gives us a joy that does not depend on anything finite.

I personally have struggled with unhappiness on and off in my life but when it comes down to what I hold most dear, I can recognize that internally I have a joy that cannot be swayed by any emotion or situation, it is a joy in knowing that God is my hope and my salvation.

In this time of Advent, I pray that you can experience the joy that only the child Jesus can bring to each of us. I pray that each of you are able to prepare the manger of your hearts so that Jesus can come and dwell and give you the joy and peace that you each seek.

Photograph courtesy of pixabay