You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

 

When Dr. Seuss was 53 years old, he was fed up. The children’s book author and illustrator was tired of the noise, the constant activity, and the busy-ness that was attached to Christmas. His desire was that people would celebrate the joy and peacefulness of the season without all the hoopla detracting from it.

So he did what any great writer does. He wrote a story about it. How the Grinch Stole Christmas has become a classic, spanning over five decades.

It’s funny that in today’s world we think of the Grinch as an awful and mean creature. We forget that he actually transformed his attitude about Christmas. He saw the Whos in Whoville celebrating together, even without the gifts and food. He discovered that it was about being together and sharing this special day with each other.

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.”

How is your Advent going? Are you caught up in the gifts, food, and busy-ness? Are you finding yourself getting anxious about the things to do and people on your shopping list?

What is your focus as we approach Christmas Day? Are you finding time to pray, reflect and give thanks for the miracle of Christmas? Are you setting aside time to be fully present with those you love and those you meet?

How big is your heart this Christmas season?

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We Have a Choice

A Message from Kurt Peot

Advent brings back many fond memories for me, does it for you? I remember decorating our home with our Nativity set and an Advent wreath. One of my favorite memories was the Advent calendar which helped count down the days and also offered a bit of chocolate as a reward. There were the catalogs that came in the mail, and searching through them for what I hoped to receive for Christmas.

Most of all, I recall a time of great anticipation and preparation for the birth of Jesus, and well, there was Santa too.

The gospel stories tell of that same anticipation and preparation. They remind us of God’s plan for our salvation. The plan where His love, so pure and freely given, sent the Word made flesh, Jesus, to save us.  I think it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of life where Christmas comes and goes, and the stress of life can cloud our vision and dampen our enthusiasm of this amazing gift. The stories encourage us to not let anything get in the way of our anticipation and preparation.

  • Are you heading into this season with anticipation and excitement, just as a child?
  • Are you allowing your anxieties to dampen your enthusiasm?
  • Will you let the Christmas parties, shopping, decorations, concerts, Christmas cards, and stress obscure the most beautiful gift ever given?

We have a choice.

That gift is the Son from the Father. A gift given solely because He loves us and wants to spend eternity with us. That is something worth all the anticipation and preparation we can muster. Let the mystery of what has occurred, and is yet to occur, shape our daily life.

 

Kurt Peot, parishioner and diaconate candidate

 

Preparing Our Hearts

In 1978, Dr. Amar Bose was flying from the US to Switzerland, when he was given a pair of headphones by the airline staff to listen to music. The problem was, the plane was so loud that he could barely hear the music.

So what did he do? He did what any great sound engineer would do. He began sketching plans for the first pair of noise cancelling headphones.

In 2018, every electronics company in the world offers some form of noise cancelling headphones. And with good reason. There is a lot of noise out there.

Here we are today, at the beginning of the holiday season. Advent is here, and we’re thinking of ways that we can prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ.

The problem is, there is a lot of noise out there: holiday parties, shopping, Christmas cards, work events, more shopping…our minds are filled with December noise.

So what can we do? How can we cancel out the noise? It’s actually very simple. We each have our own noise cancelling device: it’s called prayer.

Matthew Kelly says it best: “In the classroom of silence, we discover who we are and the Father’s love for us.”

This Advent, make an appointment each day for five minutes. Find a corner of your house…or the front seat of your car…or anywhere that you can get away. Put on your noise cancelling headphones (either literally or figuratively), and talk to God. Ask Him to quiet your brain, to relax your breathing, and calm the world around you.

And then begin the preparations to have Jesus reborn in your heart once again.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

The Joy is Growing!

Joy marks the third week of Advent. We light the pink  or rose candle, as this week is meant to bring rejoicing. The time of preparation is halfway over. The joy is growing!

Jesus, our Savior, is near. Not just in the day of Christmas but in the reality that He will come again. Joy in knowing that working on our relationship with Him will bring us closer to heaven. Joy that working on this relationship with others will bring heaven closer to earth. Joy that all will be made well for those who place their trust in Him.

As you ponder faith and joy, I share this passage from You: God’s Brand New Idea, a book of reflections that draws from other texts, to inspire and motivate you as we draw closer to Christmas. Have faith! Rejoice!

God has never taken his eyes off of you. Not for a millisecond. He’s always near. He lives to hear your heartbeat. He loves to hear your prayers. He’d die for your sin before he’d let you die in your sin, so he did.

What do you do with such a Savior?

Don’t you sing to him? Don’t you declare, confess, and proclaim his name? Don’t you bow a knee, lower a head, hammer a nail, feed the poor, and lift up your gift in worship? Of course you do.

Worship God. Applaud him loud and often. For your sake, you need it.

And for heaven’s sake, he deserves it. (Cure for the Common Life)

 

Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic Parish

 

Are You Ready for Advent?

This will not be a surprise to anyone: December is a crazy, hectic month. We all have a lot going on. It’s tough to keep us with all of the shopping, entertaining, planning, coordinating and decorating.

As we continue our theme of “Being Ready,” we look at three things you can do to take full advantage of the Advent Season. But let me warn you, it will take some energy and dedication. But it is so worth it.

Create a Plan. It’s not too late. Come up with a schedule that allows you to sit for fifteen minutes and catch your breath. This is the perfect time to read, reflect, and pray. You choose how often you would like to do this. Pick days and times, and add it to your calendar. Look for ways to get closer to God.

Light the Advent Wreath. Take time each day to light the candles on the wreath and say a short prayer. Many families do this before dinner. Take turns reading bible passages or sharing thoughts on getting ready for the birth of Jesus. Make sure it is a quiet and reflective time, even if only for a few minutes.

Put Your Words into Action. Choose one thing for you and your family to do together this Advent Season. Collect food for a pantry. Buy gifts for a family in need. Find a charity to support. Discuss it one evening after you light your Advent Wreath. Decide what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.

Tune in to Advent

I tend to consider Advent to be the forgotten liturgical season. The secular culture totally dismisses it in its rush toward Christmas. We have the special privilege to be countercultural, if we allow ourselves to be.

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It is a time to reflect upon the past through the anticipation of the Lord’s birth 2017 years ago. We are able to anticipate His coming at Christmas now. We are able to focus on living a life dedicated to Him in anticipation of His coming at the end of time, whenever that is. We are to live each day as if it is the day of that coming. Are you ready?

When Jesus comes, it won’t matter if we got the Christmas gifts bought or if we were able to make that last batch of cookies. While all of that is nice, it is certain that it will be more important how we used our time to do His work. Did we take the time to build a relationship with Him in order to understand what we are called to be and do?

  • Did we stay connected to Him through prayer and the sacraments?
  • Did we do our best to be Jesus to those we meet and to those we already know?
  • Did others come to know Jesus through us?

I am fairly certain that the answers to these questions will be more important than if we mailed all the Christmas cards.

If I may suggest a way to help slow down the pace around us and tune in to Advent, join me in a daily retreat with Matthew Kelly through Best Advent Ever! I did Best Lent Ever last year and loved it! I am sure that something from this experience will stick with you.

https://dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.