A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

More of a Blue Christmas Than a White One?

Posted on: December 20, 2012

At Mass this past weekend, the reading from Philippians 4:4-7 began, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

That’s a tall order for some people this holiday season: those who are ill, lonely or alone for Christmas; those who are unemployed, homeless or otherwise in need; and those who mourn.

These days, 24/7 media coverage keeps us hyper-aware of all the needs, sorrows and tragedies in our community and beyond. It’s hard not to wonder, “What can I do? I’m only one person.”

I think there are two things we can do: pray and act. You may wonder why I put prayer first. Since I tend to be a Martha (see Luke 10:38-42), my first instinct is to do something, but deep down I know prayer should be my first resort.

Pray. About whatever saddens or outrages you, in whatever words come to you. If you find it hard to pray spontaneously, you can use the prayers in the back of the missal or in a book like the Holy Family Prayer Book. You can also say one or several decades of the rosary for that concern. Sometimes my mind wanders when I pray, so I find praying the rosary helps me focus.

As a new Catholic, I didn’t grow up asking the saints to intercede for me, but now I know I can ask for their prayers as well. Voices of the Saints: A 365-Day Journey With Our Spiritual Companions is a great resource if you’d like to know who the patron saint is for the concern you’re praying about.

Act. Here are some small ways to make a difference in your community:

  • Smile and say hello to people you pass in your neighbourhood or deal with on your errands—you might be the only friendly person they meet all day. (Especially during the Christmas season, when people are in a hurry and maybe not as polite as they could be.)
  • Buy a few grocery items for your local food bank; contribute to your church’s or school’s Christmas food hampers; or donate new or gently used clothing, toys or household items to charity. Sometimes we forget how great the need is even in Ottawa.
  • Take the time to notice the people around you. (For shy or introverted people like me, this can be a real challenge.) Do they seem ill, down, or stressed out? Ask how they’re doing. Maybe they need someone to talk to, even if it’s only small talk.

We can try to make someone’s Christmas a little less blue by praying for their needs or imitating the “little way” of St. Therese of Lisieux and doing something with great love.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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