This past Sunday, we in the Catholic faith celebrated "Gaudete Sunday". If you want to read more about that, go here Gaudete Sunday. This is the Sunday that we light the pink candle on the Advent wreath. The Sunday that we are called to be filled with Joy for the growing nearness of the birth of our Savior. It's always an exciting time when a baby is about to arrive. The fact that this baby happens to be the King of the Universe? Super-duper-duper exciting. Happy, happy, joyful time!
If you happen to be Italian, it's also Bambinelli Sunday, the day where all the little Italian kids bring the baby Jesus from their nativity set to St. Peter's to be blessed by the Pope.
WWWWHHHHHHAAAAATTTTT, you say??????? WHY ARE THEY TOUCHING THE BABY JESUS????DOESN'T THE POPE KNOW IT'S STILL ADVENT????HOW DARE HE BRING OUT JESUS BEFORE CHRISTMAS DAY!!!
If this is your reaction, or if you find yourself getting highly agitated because people are not only putting up their Christmas tree but, GASP, decorating it, please take a deeper breath and count to ten. Also, if you would like to scream at people who wish you "Happy Holidays" instead of considering, "hey, maybe they celebrate a different holiday then I do at this time of year," for heaven's sake, consider that this may not be the best reaction.
I know, I know. It is maddening that people are doing it wrong. If only everyone were Catholic (and by that, I mean PRACTICING... you know, like ME) imagine how delightful the world would be! I'm not saying that we shouldn't be striving towards that. I'm also not saying that It's not difficult to live in the place we do at the time we do. Even among Catholics...like, how many of you aren't aware that the Catholic Mass is ALWAYS a capital "M"? Really, this drives me around the bend. If you can't get that right, how can I trust that you will follow anything else?
So, in this new liturgical year, I'm pledging to lead with love instead of criticism or, help me, "useful suggestions". It's up to me to evangelize my fellow man and show them the glory and grace of being Catholic, right? I am their window into the truth and fullness of the Catholic faith and all the blessings that flow hence. How, tell me, will I do that with my previously crabby pants attitude?
I'm also trying to become as educated as I can about my faith. I know, you're thinking, that means reading all the Catholic mom blogs I can find. Right? No, that's not what I'm doing. With all respect in the world to Catholic moms and their blogs, they are just that, moms. I'm willing to bet that most haven't spent years and years studying theology and I know none of them are ordained. (Yes, I know there are good priests and bad priests but, just like doctors, you have to do some things before they allow you to call yourself that).
I have only a small amount of time to read each day. I've found that I often come away from some of the "shiny" blogs feeling depressed instead of inspired. Perhaps that's me and my issue with which to deal. I've also noticed, though, that reading blogs in general has me feeling like I MUST comment on whatever subject is at hand. It may be helpful sometimes but, generally, I have to believe the person wrote the blog for their own need and not so much for my dis/approval. So, for now, I'm not going to spend much time with blogs when the result could be less than helpful for me or the blogger or the others reading. I'm heading over to the not-so-subjective side of things.
I'm currently reading The Evangelization Equation: Who, What, How by Fr. James Wehner I only got through the first few chapters yesterday but I HIGHLY recommend it. It is full of great insights about how to live your faith and pass it along to others. I'm getting all sorts of good suggestions...like love people where they are and help them move to where they need to go. Be a living example of all the great benefits that derive from following God's word. It doesn't always work but I'm guessing for most people, a little kindness will open the door more than telling them all the things they are doing wrong.
Ultimately I know in my heart that, whether or not I have a Jesse tree and whether or not I play Christmas music before Dec 24th at midnight, (or that I forgot to start reading Bambinelli Sunday the first Sunday of Advent), I am doing what I can to raise my children in a way that pleases God. I know that because I am thinking about it and making Him part of each and every day around here. Could I be doing more? Always. Thankfully I also know that God is my loving | Father and, along with my Blessed Mother, I am a loved and cherished child. How, when I think of that, can I not be filled with JOY?
I am blessed!