Help children find the holy in all parts of the holiday season.
It is hard for a baby in a manger to compete with eight reindeer and Santa holding a huge pack of gifts. The anticipatory pause of Advent—quiet and dark blue—has a difficult time holding a candle to the glitter and colorful lights of a city’s exuberant holiday decorations. But what if we don’t need to compete? What if we can help our children find the holy in all parts of the holiday season?
Thrills aren’t just for kids.
Little ditty about Jack and Diane. Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland. John Mellencamp’s popular song makes me uneasy. Whenever it comes on the radio as I’m making the bed or driving the kids to school, I stop and listen. And the refrain that comes shortly after that famous beginning always startles me. Makes me swallow hard. Makes me bite my lip and check to see if it is true for me yet.
Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.
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.”
In the face of God, sometimes we can’t help but cry.
I cried at my wedding. After we exchanged the vows I sat down next to Bill on the altar and the tears started.
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.
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.
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