As I write this bulletin column, I anticipate enjoying the annual Thanksgiving holiday dinner with various family members at my rectory. I realize, once again, how truly blessed I am. I have three brothers and a sister, their families and my mother, who mostly live in close proximity. I am so fortunate to have a considerable number of people gathered together to share this family day and traditional meal. My mother will also celebrate her 89th birthday at this time with us! I cook the turkey and a few of the side dishes while the rest of the family bring some particular specialties from their own homes to the table.
Last year we had some unexpected excitement as my youngest brother suffered a kidney stone attack and spent several days in the hospital. Let's hope this year has much less drama.
As I reflect, I pity those people who used to forgo time spent with family and friends to begin to camp out or stand in line on Black Friday in order to be early enough to get some advertised bargain at the retail stores. Maybe online sales have somewhat curtailed this practice? Nevertheless, I worry whenever we start to put material things ahead of family, friendships and relationships. People should certainly be more important than things, as far as I am concerned.
Advent also begins this weekend. I ponder once again whether or not this season of preparation for the Birth of Christ will make a difference to most people. Many people skip the intended Advent preparation and begin celebrating Christmas. Then when Christmas finally arrives, people are ready to move on to something else.
I wonder why we have to come up with slogans like Keep Christ in Christmas in order to remind us of something that should be so obvious. I advise that we don’t waste precious time by getting caught up in all of the materialism that the world is concerned about and continually sells us. Rather, we should take time for the spiritual life. After all, we as humans are comprised of body and soul. We should make the time for Jesus Christ and prepare for Him. Personally, I find that when my spiritual priorities are in order and Christ is forefront in my life, everything else mysteriously seems to fall into place. I may have to learn this lesson over and over again, but someday I may finally get it right.
I attempt to do my part by keeping any Christmas preparation in proper perspective. My annual Christmas shopping remains almost non-existent. Unfortunately, I don’t think the economy will be helped by my miniscule number of purchases. Perhaps, my spiritual life might be deepened instead.
I know that the anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child still brings hope to many lives. For those who truly try to pray, to spiritually prepare (especially with a sacramental confession), and even to fast, the joy that comes from readying our hearts for the coming of Jesus surpasses any temporary, illusory pleasures that the many TV commercials may promise.
Please do your part to ready for Christ's coming during these four weeks of Advent and attempt to forgo turning this preparatory season into a premature Christmas celebration.
Fr. Ed Namiotka