December 20, 2013

Catholic Education Outreach / Margaret Hendricks

Keeping Christ in Christmas in our family of faith

Advent is a time of preparation and waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus. At the heart of Catholic education is the commitment to assist parents as the first and best educators of their children. This holy season provides an opportunity for us to reflect upon the family—the domestic Church.

While I make an effort to keep my prayer and faith life on track, I find myself getting caught up in the secularism and materialism associated with the celebration of Christmas.

The words “making a list, checking it twice” from a secular Christmas carol reminds me of the shopping I still need to finish. Of course, I delight in finding the perfect gift for each of my grandchildren.

This year seems different, perhaps due in part to the spirit and simplicity of Pope Francis. In less than a week, we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord, followed by the feasts of the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, the Epiphany and the Baptism of Our Lord. As Catholics, this is a beautiful time to celebrate and worship!

The feasts that we will celebrate afford us an awesome opportunity to witness to our children and families, in a powerful and practical way, the love of Christ for his people. So, if you are like me and looking for a few ways you may experience the “sacred in the ordinary” and celebrate these feasts with purpose, I suggest the following:

Read, pray and chat with your children at bedtime. Those few quiet minutes with your child can create life-long memories that will shape a child or teenager for years to come. Maybe even generations to come!

While sharing the Nativity narrative with your children, consider finding time to tell your children about their own birth.

As parents, this was a time of preparation and anticipation. Share with them the people who came to visit them, just like the shepherds and wise men after Jesus’ birth.

The teen years can be a “roller coaster” for your children. Be intentional with your schedule. The times a teen returns to or departs from the home are important opportunities to “touch base.” Commit to being home as often as possible at these times.

Make your marriage a priority. Treat your spouse tenderly in the presence of your children. Use words of affirmation and encouragement. Sometimes a gesture as simple as helping clear the dishes speaks volumes for the care you have for a spouse. Simply taking a walk or holding hands are visible signs of affection for one another.

This list is in no way complete. Take these ideas and adjust them to meet the needs of your family.

I am blessed to have eight grandchildren. In addition to the gifts my grandchildren will open this Christmas season, I am committed to making time for each of them individually to share my memories of their birth and of their mom’s birth.

These everyday acts of kindness and striving for holiness in our relationships have the potential to reap big results in our families.

Merry Christmas, and Christ’s peace to you and yours!
 

(Margaret Hendricks is the program coordinator for Adolescent Growth Programs for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. You can e-mail her at mhendricks@archindy.org.)

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