Third Week of Advent Reflection: Needing a Savior



We have made it more than half way through Advent.  Next week we will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity and begin the Christmas season.  Our joy is even greater, as we passed through Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday.  We are nearing the end of this season of waiting in joyful hope, although, we wait in joyful hope daily for the Second Coming.

Something that I have been thinking about is how it is that we come to wait in joyful hope.  This season is meaningless to those who do not acknowledge the need for a Savior.  In a culture that denies the existence of sin, it is impossible to find that joy.  Each of us must look deep into our hearts and realize that we are powerless in the face of sin unless we fall on Christ.
It fascinates me how much the Judeo-Christian archetypes permeate our society and yet we ignore the presence of evil.  Our culture tries to shake off its Christian roots, but just can’t seem to do it fully.  We are always looking for a hero, a savior: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, etc.  These heroes are all over our culture.  There is something in our human make-up that yearns for saving.  These are made up heroes, while Jesus Christ, the God-Man came to save all from sin and death. Somewhere deep inside of our depravity we know that we cannot go it alone.  Many of us go throughout our daily lives without even looking into our sin.  Instead we block it out with  noise and distractions.  It is difficult to come to grips with the pain and evil of sin.  We don’t want to think about it because it causes despair, when it is not viewed in the Light of Christ.  As Matthew Kelly says, ‘the division between good and evil is down every human heart, yours and mine.’  Every single person is capable of great evil and great good.
However, because of sin’s destructive nature we cannot battle it alone. In the Light of Christ, we begin to see our terrible ways and desire to correct them.  That desire can only come from Him, cleansing and healing only come from the grace of Jesus Christ.  He shows us the path of holiness to walk.  He shows us the Way.  Without Him as a guide we wander from one sin to the next, without even understanding that our unhappiness comes from those sins.
There are so many people throughout the world who live this season without Jesus Christ.  Our society at large focuses more on buying things than it does on what Christmas is all about.  Meanwhile, the Church waits peacefully throughout Advent for the True Gift of Christmas, the Incarnation.  Our joy is made complete in Him.  Without Jesus Christ there is no Advent and there is no Christmas.  Instead we have another day, that may come with some happiness with family and friends.  It may come with the fleeting happiness of a new possession acquired.  But, it does not bring peace to our restless souls.  Instead December 25th is a day like any other day, that passes all too quickly.
As Catholics, we need to show the world where True Joy lies.  He is in a manger waiting to free us all.  We wait for one more week for His coming at Christmas.  Our anticipation building, not because of shiny boxes and twinkle lights.  No, it is because Love is calling each one of us, and when we accept, it is joy that we receive.  Advent is truly a blessed season because it reminds us what we truly long for and it cannot be bought.  It is freely given, we only have to accept and follow Him.  Advent blessings!

The Ugly Christmas Ornament Lesson

Once again my daughter is teaching me that the world does not revolve around me.  It is a very difficult lesson, one in which I sulk at times.  Give me a little bit of a break.  I have only been a parent for 2 years and was living blissfully unaware (okay..occasionally aware) of my selfish nature for 30 years prior.  Some of you may scoff and others will understand my story.

You see, each year since we have been dating, my husband and I have bought each other a Christmas ornament.  We only put those ornaments on our tree, and a few gold ball ornaments.  Michaela was added to the tradition when she was born.  We open our ornaments on the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec 6th) and then set them aside until Gaudete Sunday.  It is little addition we made to that Feast Day in our home. So far, the ornament selections have been quite lovely.  I like the religious ornaments, but we do have some wintry ornaments as well.
Tonight my husband, daughter, and I decided to go to Walmart to try to find some purple Advent candles since ours melted in the attic over the summer.  We also thought we would see what kind of ornament we should get for Michaela.  We found 4 purple candles, they were out of pink.  My apologies to Gaudete Sunday.  The ornament selection did not leave much to be desired.  I was going to compromise on a Disney Princess ornament because it had Rapunzel on it, but then…my husband pulled out this:
This is going on my Christmas Tree.
This is going on my Christmas Tree. And, yes, the dog is wearing pink booties.
  Those of you have a toddler know what happened next.  She loved it!  It was the greatest ornament on  the planet.  Nothing could compare.  I tried.  I showed her the Disney Princess ornament.  She ignored it.  I tried a jingle-bell snowman.  It could not hold a candle to this gaudy pink dog.  I sighed.  My husband turned to me and said, “The ornaments are supposed to represent who she is right now.”  I knew he was right.  Her two favorite things right now are doggies and Pinkalicious.  It’s like Walmart knew this and made an ornament just for her, and other toddlers.
You would have had to know me before I got married.  I liked a matching Christmas Tree.  Something that was color coordinated and had beautiful ribbon swirling down the sides.  It was always topped with a beautiful angel.  This is one of those things I abandoned in favor of a new tradition with my husband.  However, it still sneaks out at times.  This being one of those times.  I now just admire those types of trees in my Southern Living magazine.
This is another great lesson that motherhood has taught me.  It just is not about me anymore.  It never really was actually.  Instead, it is about what makes my daughter happy.  If she selects an ugly ornament, it will be a story we can share later.  I will always remember this ornament and the Christmas she was 2 years old.  She will grow up way to fast.  I already have to catch my breath some days.
This experience also made me stop and wonder when I got so boring.  Childhood is such a magical time and I forget that sometimes.  It is a time when my daughter just knows what she likes and does not have the world telling her what to like.  It is a time of imagination, learning, and wonder.  It is a time for pink dogs and little girls who eat too many cupcakes and turn pink.
I may have grumbled in the store, but I will happily help her place this ornament on our Tree in the coming weeks.  It is hers and it will hold many memories.  And we can haul it out when she is a cranky teenager. I hope you are having a blessed Advent.
Two of my daughter's favorite things: pink and doggies.
Two of my daughter’s favorite things: pink and doggies.


What are some ornaments your kids have picked out that you have had to put on your Tree over the years?


P.S. We are really trying to live out Advent right now and minimize Christmas.  The Feast of St. Nicholas is Friday, so we wanted to be prepared.