For each issue of WLP's Seasonal Missalette, We Celebrate, and Celebremos/Let Us Celebrate worship resources, I write a short reflection that appears on the inside cover. I want to share the current reflection with you as these days of Advent slowly open the door to the festival of Christmas. The overwhelming sense that I carry in my heart these days is one of gratitude for God's abundant gifts. I want to thank you for your faithful following of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. Now, the reflection. I hope you find it helpful as you prepare for Christmas.
Gifts That Endure
I grew up one of six children. Without a doubt, the high point of the year for our large Catholic family was Christmas morning. Even though my parents struggled financially, they were always able to have presents beneath the Christmas tree for us. I will never forget the Christmas morning of 1965.
It was the typical frenzy of tearing wrapping paper off of the gifts. We felt elated when we opened a package with a cool new game or toy in it and somewhat deflated when the packages contained the annual “socks and underwear” installment.
That year, toward the end of the unwrapping frenzy, I found a small present bearing my name. It could not have weighed more than an ounce. I shook it and was convinced that there was nothing inside. When I opened the gift, I noticed that my mother and father were watching me. In it was a handwritten certificate. It said that this Christmas gift was piano lessons with Sister Julie Maria at St. Charles School in my hometown, Woburn, Massachusetts. We had a little tabletop “Magnus Chord Organ” at our house and I had been teaching myself how to read music. This gift—these piano lessons that my parents found some way to afford—opened a world of music making to me that has endured to this day. It is, by far, the greatest Christmas present I have ever received.
During this time of preparation for and celebration of Christmas and these weeks of Ordinary Time, try to recall a gift you have been given that has been an enduring gift. I believe these kinds of gifts are few and far between. Do you even remember what you received last Christmas?
One thing we can be certain of is that we have been given—and continually are given—one enduring gift that makes all the difference in our lives. That enduring gift, of course, is the Eucharist. Each week we are given the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that consuming a small wafer of bread and a sip of wine is all there is to this experience of the Eucharist. Deep down we know that the Eucharist is so much more. This enduring gift gets us through the difficult times of illness and pain. The gift strengthens us to feed the poor and to work for peace and justice. It strengthens our marriages and families.
Let’s make this Advent, Christmas, and these weeks of Ordinary Time a time of deep appreciation for the greatest gift, a gift that endures for all time: the Eucharist.
Gotta Sing. Gotta Pray.