As the years have gone by in my life, it has become increasingly important to me to remember what Christmas is all about. I have become increasingly more and more disappointed in the way Christmas has become such a material Holiday. One of the things about me that helped me to decide to become Catholic was this strong "anti-commercial/material" feeling that has always come naturally to me around this time of year. While I have never practiced any sort of religion in my life, I have always felt something (beyond excitement over presents and food and drinking) special at Christmas. I am grateful for that because my parents always taught me that Christmas is about giving, sharing, being with family and friends, etc. So, I have always felt theat somehow, down deep inside me that I am and have always been a Christian. This year, now that I am going thru the RCIA program and becoming Catholic, the meaning of Christmas has become clearer and more important to me. I am truly grateful for this evolution of my spiritual growth. For this evolution, I have God, AA and of course my Catholic wife and our son to thank.
While I would never apologize for my own faith and beliefs, I would certainly like to offer this: I hope that my celebration/discussion of Christmas and other Christian, Catholic rites and Holidays does nothing to offend anyone, or to keep them from visiting my blog. One of the awful strerotypes about the Catholic Church I had held in my heart for years was that Catholics are "superior" to others, and quite intolerant towards other forms of religions, Christian and otherwise. I am relieved to report that I have been seen no such superiority or intolerance in my nearly 6 yrs of attending Mass. In fact, I have been taught quite the opposite at RCIA class. The Catholic faith is quite accepting and welcoming of those people and institutions of other faiths. We believe what we believe for our own sakes and of the sake of all, but there simply is to be no judging of others. In fact, that was one of the first dicussions we had at class the first evening. I was so relieved to hear that cuz, I want no part of joining any "exclusive club" lol. That's not to say that like in any other group of people there aren't those who might twist the teachings to suit themselves, but we're taught not to judge, that we're not any better than anyone else. We're humans, practicing faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I am not exactly quite sure where all this came from, it just came this morning. In fact I am still in my first cup o Joe, having just gotten up. I took Ian Christmas shopping yesterday, out there in the madness, with all the people. We had a fun time, never got all worked up about traffic, lines, insanity, etc. I even ran into a few people I know that I hadn't seen in some time. Ever since getting sober, Christmas has "re-become" a magical time of year for me. But, I really have to struggle to maintain the true Christmas Spirit through the month of December, what with all the material insanity we're bombarded with. I recall my fisrt sober Christmas, I was overcome at several moments with emotion at the Joy of Christmas, the Joy of calm and fun family times again, the Joy of seeing others experiencing Christmas together in recovery. It was an overwhelming time for me and that has never left me since getting and staying sober. Sobriety has given me a deeper appreciation of the meaning of Christmas and this year it has led me to the beginnings of a new, beautiful, exciting, scary, somewhat intimidating at times faith that can only increase my gifts at Christmastime (and no I aint talking presents, lol!!). I am so grateful... I have trouble even expressing it! In the light of His Spirit I wish you all a reflective, peaceful Advent and very Merry Christmas.
We had a meeting at the county jail yesterday and each inmate went round and talked about what he was grateful for. Man, if you ever needed a pick me up, that was it. A bunch of grateful inmates in a county jail right before Christmas. Wow! Thanks HP for that one!
Prayer for the day...
God/HP, I am grateful to you for another sober day. I pray that I may live in the quiet peace and contemplation of the Advent season as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. I pray that I may work harder to be of service to You and those about me. Help me to think of others before myself, to give a hand to someone who needs it. Help me to share the wealth of Spirit You've given me to those about me. Help me prepare myself spiritually to be closer to You in my thoughts and deeds today.
peace to y'all... and Happy Hannukah, Ramadan and Kwaanza. (please excuse my misspellings)
and for those of you who hung in there with this post and read to the bottom, thanks...