“I like being Catholic.”
“Well, who wouldn’t?”
Banter between my ten year old and his almost eight year old brother, as we prepare for a much loved, comfortable Advent ritual.
May be a tradition as simple as the lighting of the stately lavender tapers, ring of purples and pink, each boy eagerly anticipating leading the nightly prayer. Or reciting the scripture verse. And do they ever read this verse with care, as their first Advent morning utterances refer to who lights or reads or conducts the prayers on the ice-kissed, tree-warmed, love-filled, evening.
Or these words may be heard during the tumble out the door to Mass, where my oldest will be serving and my youngest sings in the children’s choir. Or they may possibly linger in the air above the kitchen table as we plan, paint, craft, bake and wrap handmade ornaments, peppermint confections, and other specialties created with time, love and care for those angels who have touched our lives. Those angels the Lord sends to us, some for a season, some a reason, some a lifetime…an aunt, a granddad, a neighbor, an acquaintance.
The ways in which to connect our faith to our families’ daily lives during this liturgical season, any liturgical season, really, are plentiful…and often illuminated by our children, who at times, infer the obvious, with an ease that we, as parents, can miss, in our zeal for planning “just the right” lesson or connecting “the most perfect” piece of literature with a feast day or a saint study we are undertaking. Blogs, books, sites, all brimming, full, teaming with answers to perfect ways of celebrating the O Antiphons, of creating the most glistening and meaningful Jesse tree, of delightfully becoming one with a thematic unit authored by Tomie dePaola, all abound. They burst with creativity, with pure genius.
But, how about choosing just a few rituals and enjoying, immersing, absorbing those:
The nightly lighting, reading, reverence around our Jesse Tree or Advent wreath. The special advent book, read and loved and so inviting, it is as if, as you enter the story, you try on a warm pocket of air. We may do well to try on these rituals and just be.
These are stories my family has not only read, but lived and “tried on.” They are staples and they have led to more discussion, more depth, more meaning than I can describe.
In C.S. Lewis’s classic jewel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, doubtless, the quintessential allegorical portrayal of Christ’s valor and divinity, the stirring parallels between the tenets of our faith and the characterization and setting in the tale foster deep study for every age. Isn’t it exciting when our kids immediately connect the four children created by this Catholic apologist to the four writers of the Gospel? Or when they relate the selfless acts of courage and humility, laced with strength of character by the hero, Aslan, to the essence of Salvation. As, undeniably, Lewis’s protagonist IS quite simply, the depiction of Jesus Christ. The deep levels of discussion around this title and within the characterization, setting and plot of the entire Narnia series are, of course, boundless.
And what kid wouldn’t find the untamed Herdmanns running amok in Barbara Robinson’s gem The Best Christmas Pageant Ever an absolute scream? What’s better than listening to your seven year old ruminate on Imogene’s bold questioning? “You know, she makes good points Mom!” ….. Which of course, causes him to add Herod to the family’s running timeline of world leaders and events, after doing some reading up on this “bad guy,” wondering, “Yeah, who he was anyway?”
How about the happy, selfless acts of the jolly old elf himself, who is forever connected with one of our faith’s best loved saints, good St Nicholas? For fascinating information and a plethora of crafts, tips and literature, please visit www.stnicholascenter.org.
Each year, our boys look to offer our beloved Santa Claus handmade gifts, beautifully wrapped with love and care, and thank you notes under the tree on Christmas Eve. It exemplifies their excitement and confirms not only their appreciation of this legendary figure’s devotion to children the world over, but also their connection with him to the most blessed night of our liturgical year.
Yes, we revere and honor Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who gave. And gave. And gave. Humbly. And anonymously. And, Santa Claus continues this tradition. Honorably.
Those thematic plans and copiously researched unit studies? Fantastic! Relevant! Important! They certainly have a place. However, this Advent, alongside the checklist, the rituals, the lighting, the prayers, the reading, the ornament making, this Advent, allow the Spirit to guide.
This Advent, watch. Watch our children. To connect. To bloom. To infer. To associate. To realize. To dig deep layers of the Truth, of the Meaning, of The Power. All created by our Lord.
Who authors our destiny. Who gives strength. Who is the Reason.
Copyright 2010 Christine Mooney