Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Convert Looks at the Spirit of the Season

I am pleased to welcome Tacy of [picture a skyline] to share some of her thoughts on Christmas from a converts point of view.  Enjoy!

A Christmas Carol can be read online for free*, although I do heartily recommend a hard-bound, worn-out copy on your bookshelf.  I bought it a few short winters ago, in a book club where we read the concise story by literary giant Charles Dickens (with whom I may have had a few quibbles).  It was a lively, spot-on discussion that happened to be led by my sister-in-law.  


Recently, rereading this story, I felt the cold chill of fear that I always feel (and sort-of dislike), when reading about the spectres visiting poor oldScrooge. I pull the blanket closer around me. And from another reading, I am beginning to think about the Spirit of Christmas in a new way.


Many people will attend the play or watch one of the ten film versions this Christmas. As they do, they may ponder some of the same things I pondered when I re-read it.They will ponder selfishness, the need of thepoor, the greed of the financially stable, excuses for helping the poorand starving, and perhaps the process of self-examination which often occurs during this season. And they will probably hear “Bah, Humbug,” and laugh reflexively- or alternately, shiver cold-heartedly and utter it themselves. Most likely while in mall traffic.


And they may also think on the following exchange, which really stood out to me. When Scrooge inquires of the Spirit of Christmas Past, “What business brings you here?” The ghost answers, “Your welfare!” The ghost is not there to annoy him. The ghost is there to cajole for the improvement of his own welfare. At least, we think so, given what we know about spirits and ghosts in the story, and in real life.


When I was squirming in my chair a few Christmases ago, wondering if I should convert to the Catholic faith from my well-rooted Presbyterian faith system, I wish a stranger or a ghost - or anybody, really- would have appeared in a dream or in real life, even at the grocery store or on a billboard…. to tell me, “I come for your welfare!”


Although, I should say, many people encouraged me in my walk toward my now-Church home.


Why? Because now I know the Spirit of Christmas in its wholeness. Now I know the Spirit of Advent in the proper context. Now I know the humble baby because his body and blood are real in the Eucharist. I have that truth, and that truth has set me free. I will be fully cognizant of this fact when I attend Christ-Mass on December 25th.


When Scrooge says at the end of the story,“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. . . The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” 


I want to proclaim with Dickens, “I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” And I will be referring to the theologians, some of whose books I have read. I will be referring to the Priest who helped my family with our process of discernment and did our Easter Vigil / Confirmation Mass.  I will be referring to the Saints and Apostles who have gone before me. I cannot shut out the lessons that they teach. Saints like St. Nicholas, St. Peter, St. Therese, and St. Paul. I will also be referring to the community that I am a part of, that makes my life a pleasure, rather than a burden.


After Scrooge has been haunted for three nights, and learned the value of  keeping the Christmas spirit alive, Dickens writes,


“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”


This Christmas, as we hug our relatives, as we go Christmas Caroling, as we light the fire, fight over packets of hot chocolate, and open the gifts placed lovingly under the tree, may we be divorced from any Grinchly tendencies- or Scrooge-like tight-fisting. May we give generously to the poor, may we remember the Spirit of Christmas. It is expressed beautifully in the Spirit of Humility found at the manger, and the Spirit of a Father who gave us his son willingly and generously, wanting to guide us into all truth. And that love is what I want to pass on to my children.

The discussion at our book club, along with the mulled wine and smoky hard cheese, stirred our souls and swelled our cold, small hearts with warmth and light.  I want to say, “We know how to keep this Spirit alive, if any men alive possess the knowledge.” And, as Dickens wrote so many Christmases ago: “May that be truly said of us, and all of us!” And, as Tiny Tim so elegantly observed and hoped for all people, “May God bless Us, Every One!” 


**If you desire to bring the that Spirit alive in your own home, consider doing some (if not all) of these activities or crafts of a spiritual nature with your children! Here are a few ideas:

Wise Men Adventures @ Catholic Inspired such a cute idea!

Our Advent So Far… @ Catholic All Year-- you will be inspired!
Jesse Tree Ornaments With Scripture Readings @ KareninMommyland- so beautiful!
Catholic Cuisine has some recipes online as well-  of great necessity at this time of year!

*All quotes from the story are from, {which can also be found online, link below}:
 “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. It is a fairly quick read, and it is a Classic work of fiction, certain to inspire you. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy!

Tacy writes at [picture a skyline] about faith and family.  She also gave her oldest daughter the best name ever {if I do say so myself}.

5 comments:

  1. My heart was warmed by your reflections, Tacy. Merry Christmas!

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  2. Hee hee -- those Wise Men Adventures sound like such a great idea! A way better alternative to Elf on the Shelf, in my opinion! Thanks for linking to that. :)

    I really, really need to read the original Dickens story. Can you believe I haven't yet?! Merry Christmas, Tacy!

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  3. Thanks Rhonda and Pam for the comments - you are dear!

    And Kathleen, a Merry Christmas to you, too!

    ReplyDelete

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