Slow down and be present to the Christmas joy that surrounds you.
You won’t hear Christmas carols in church during the Advent season, but you will hear them everywhere else. How do we keep Advent a time of quiet preparation in the midst of a world that started singing “Joy to the World” the day after Thanksgiving?
One answer is to pull out your own Advent from the Christmas pieces that surround you. Slow down and be present to what you are hearing and allow the truth in the messages to ready your soul and lead you to find your family’s Advent in the midst of this busy season.
How to teach your kids to show up for those who are sorrowful.
Beginning with All Saints’ Day and ending with the final leaves falling off the trees before winter, November is a fitting reminder that death is part of the cycle of life. During this month, many churches invite their parishioners to put pictures of deceased loved ones on display. November—somber, gray, and serious—calls us to reflect on how we can bring comfort to those in our midst who have suffered a loss. “Comfort the sorrowful” is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy.
‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’
St. Catherine of Siena. Our Toyota Sienna minivan has an extra “n,” and on our busiest days I could be known as Annemarie of Sienna. (I did not include “Saint” before my name.) But I admired St. Catherine of Siena long before I needed three rows of seats to transport our family.
St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
How should parents react when toddlers start ‘playing guns’?
On a recent afternoon, as I pushed my toddler on a swing, I watched a pair of 8-year-old boys chase each other with sticks, yelling “Bang! You’re dead! I shot you!” It was so commonplace that the scene didn’t register as anything uneasy until an hour later, when I learned of yet another shooting on the evening news; sadly, also commonplace. It struck me that in a few years, I’ll be sending my toddler to school, where she’ll learn duck-and-cover and active shooter drills.
The family photos we show to the world on social media or Christmas cards don’t show the true state of family life.
No one wants to admit to having mice, because they think it reflects badly on their housekeeping skills. As if the mice are outside saying, “Hey, did you see that? They dropped a crumb on their kitchen floor. Let’s get in there!”
There’s a piece of truth in Catholicism, but that doesn’t diminish the truth found in other religions.
When our son Liam, now 20, was in second grade, I have a clear memory of his focus on Catholicism. It was the year of his first communion, and in his Catholic school discussions of the faith, sacraments, and the connection to his life permeated every activity.
Godparents used to pay a much more prominent role in new Catholics’ faith formation.
Our culture subscribes to some notions of “godparent” that don’t exactly advance the pastoral plan of the church for this essential ministry. Even people who are unaffiliated or neutral in matters of religion often ask someone dear to them to be a godparent for a newborn. Sometimes it’s a way of affirming a longtime friend. It may also be a way of identifying who among the parents’ extended family might care for their child should calamity strike.
Steering children in a positive direction often requires thinking outside the box.
When Katie and Kevin’s son Matthew was 2, Katie was concerned that he was getting lost in between his older brother Bennett and his baby sister Annabelle. “He was a huge challenge. I couldn’t seem to connect with him the way I did with Bennett. He was so impulsive and emotional,” Katie says. She feared that Matthew’s difficulty could lead to a relationship fraught with issues. She decided that the way to steer him to a more attached and positive relationship was through time set aside just for him.
Helping young people become followers of Christ means making Catholic education accessible to all.
“Why do you send your boys to a Catholic school?” my sons’ pediatrician asked, looking at the St. Monica school sweatshirts and uniform pants my two boys had strewn over the floor of the examining room. It was the boys’ yearly checkup, in 2002, and they sat expectantly in their Hot Wheels underwear as their doctor walked in.
Don’t forget parents who have lost their children.
It’s that time of year when the parental back-to-school glow lights up playgrounds and parking lots. I drive past an elementary school every day on my way to work. Moms and dads drop off their children, beaming with a loving mix of pride, joy, and relief. We are back to the routine! Just think of all my son will learn! Imagine all the ways my daughter will grow this year!
The scene is full of hope—and, for many, heartache.
What about the parents whose children are not going back to school ever?