Why the Holidays Don’t Have to be Perfect in 2019

💫💫💫Too often society places pressure for the perfect “holiday” season:

🔷all the gifts must be precisely wrapped and laden under the Christmas tree in a tidy order,

🔷the Christmas meal has to be cooked to the exact temperature and paired with the appropriate side dishes depending on the main dish,

🔷 family members need to behave–especially your “estranged/weird” uncle [or aunt or other unique relative you may have].

The Perfection Pitfall

⚜️Honestly, I fall into this fallacy almost every year myself.

⚜️This year was no different. Stomach flu, toddler tantrums, and lack of sleep dominated the weeks leading up to my Advent.

⚜️I struggled at times to see the purpose in the pain. Going to Sunday Mass helped reorient me back to the right path.

Reason for the Season

⚜️The season of Advent is not about preparing for the “perfect” Christmas where Mary and Joseph get a room at the inn.

⚜️Rather, Advent is about preparing for the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth took place in the messiness of the stable, his Passion and Death took place on the messiness of the Cross.

⚜️Not everything in my life will be neatly fit in my control. The same was true for the Holy Family.

Advent

Reflection Questions

❓Is you reaction to unplanned events similar to the humble reaction of Jesus, Mary, & Joseph?

❓How have you prepared your soul for Joy?

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Holiday (and Husband) Hack #1

Listen to your wife

💡Husband Hack #1💡

💙Don’t argue with your wife (especially when she has a logical case in her favor).

See below example ⤵️


Wife: “Matt, you need new socks!”

Me: “No, I don’t. I have plenty of pairs.”

Wife: “They have holes on the heels, the threads are wearing out, and on several pairs I can see your big toe poking through. Last winter had record lows temperatures. Remember February 12th when Sioux Falls (and other parts of the Midwest) had colder temperatures than even Antarctica?!”

Me: “Yeah, but Antarctica is in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course our winter time is going be colder sometimes because it is experiencing its warmest temps.”

Wife: “Regardless, you need socks. Hey what is that Catholic website that sells neat saint socks?”

Me: “Socks Religious.”

Wife: Okay, that is what I am getting you for Christmas. You love Catholic saints and I love your feet being warm so you don’t catch a cold. Deal?!”

Me: “Okay, but can you get me a JPII or Fulton Sheen pair?”


🔷Catholic husbands don’t be like me. Listen to your wife when she tells you that you need new socks!

🔷For quality socks with creative Catholic designs check out Socks Religious. They include socks for kids as well (because we all know that socks mysterious lose their partner in the dryer so better to have more in the dresser on hand).

🔷Select from a variety of saints from Mother Teresa and Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. John Paul II and (soon-to-be blessed) Fulton Sheen!

https://sockreligious.com/?rfsn=2556218.17e774

#husbandhacks #socksreligious #holy #socks #christmasgifts #giftideas

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Don’t Get Cold Feet about Christmas Shopping in 2019!

🎉 🎊 Only 99 days until Christmas! 🎄⭐️ If you are like me, you might be thinking, “So what? We have plenty of time let’s celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. Let’s celebrate those first!”

Christmas in September

❗️A part of me wished the entire world 🌎 thought like me. But that is selfish. An unholy mindset. 🧦 Much like my frame of mind, my socks are getting holey. Especially, at the heels! 🧦My wife constantly urges me to get new socks. “Aren’t those uncomfortable?” she asks almost weekly. She is right. Worn down and drab socks are uncomfortable.

❗️Want a solution to this dilemma?

🧦Check out Socks Religious—a wonderful small business that specializes in high quality socks with a Holy flair! Decorated with the Holy figures like John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and Joseph, you will be sure to experience the holelessness and holiness wearing these socks!

🧦Share this post with your family and friends especially if:

📍They are Catholic

📍Enjoy planning Christmas shopping early

📍 Suffer from holey sock syndrome 📍 Enjoy having comfortable feet

📍Need a conversation starter at a year end party—because I know we can all get awkward at times in social events! 😊

https://www.sockreligious.com/?rfsn=2556218.17e774

Thank you for sharing!

The Little Way of the Hobbit–Celebrating Tolkien and the Holy Name of Jesus

tolkien birthday gif.gif

January 3rd celebrates two important events: the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and the anniversary of the birth of J.R.R. Tolkien. As a Catholic obvious the former has to take precedence, I mean Jesus is the center of the Catholic faith. However, I think it is ironic, maybe even providential, of the placement of the great English literary figure’s birthday within the season of Christmastide. The famed creator of Middle Earth himself was a devout Catholic and belief in Jesus Christ permeated his entire life. I admire Tolkien because of his creativity, devotion, and ability to invoke joy into my life simply by reading his works or striking up a conversation with a random stranger about his life!

Last year, I wrote an article published in EpicPew.com  discussing the reasons for canonizing Tolkien as a saint of the Church. According to the Baltimore Catechism paragraph 215 answered the question of why Catholics honor saints in this way,  “We honor the saints in heaven because they practiced great virtue when they were on earth, and because in honoring those who are the chosen friends of God we honor God Himself.”

The excitement, peace, and joy I receive when reading, researching, or talking about Middle Earth ultimately is aimed at a higher reality–a deeper reality of full communion with God in Heaven. Tolkien once wrote, “After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’.” All of creation act as signposts for truth of God’s existence. The same is true for the hidden or not so hidden Easter-eggs contained in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The date of the formation of the Fellowship–that is, the group of representatives of Middle Earth races– actually is December 25th!

easter christmas.jpg

Much of Tolkien’s theology, whether he would have wanted to admit it or not,  reminds me of the spirituality of The Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux. Her path towards holiness consisted of relying on God’s mercy and forgiveness while seeking ordinary daily actions to show love of God and neighbor. The French saint wrote, “Miss no single opportunity of making small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” Whenever I read and reflect upon that quote I am also reminded of the following words of Tolkien, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

jesus hobbit meme

Fantasy and Tolkien geeks now well that the bearer of the One Ring [the embodiment of temptation]  was a hobbit. If only one word would suffice to describe a hobbit to individuals not too aware of this fictional Middle Earth race it would be diminutive.  Littleness, at least in appearance, is the chief trait of the heroes of The Lord of the Rings. However, like St. Therese of Lisieux, Tolkien recognizes that the smallest person can have a great impact on human history. The greatest event in human history is the Incarnation–God being man in the person of Jesus Christ in the form of a little baby. I honor J.R.R. Tolkien today because his “complex”, extensive, and intricate sub-creation of Middle Earth provokes a sense of joy in the little acts done in great love and sacrifice. Ultimately, after reading any of his works, I am reminded to be grateful for creative genius not as a worship of the fantasy author, but rather I honor him as he points me to the Real and Truth Author of All of Reality!


“At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” –Philippians 2:10-11

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Season of Expectancy

Christmastime always holds a special place in my life. As a life-long Catholic, I grew up with the understanding that the celebration of Christ’s birth does not end on December 25th, instead it is actually the beginning of a twelve daylong celebration that goes until the Feast of the Epiphany, the arrival of the Wise men. Over the course of the past week, I noticed a ton of memes, gifs, and posts from my fellow Catholic friends about keeping up Christmas decorations and not tearing them down immediately the day after. I am guilty of that liturgical bravado as well!

This year the season of celebrating Christ’s birth contains extra expectation as my wife and I are waiting for the arrival of the birth of our fourth child! 

Being both uber-planners and type-A personalities we have actually been prepped for our daughter’s big arrival for months. To be honest, I really have been ready for another baby to hold, cuddle, and love since our miscarriage last December 2017.

The beginning of this pregnancy started off rocky and scary. Frequent OBYGN appointments, progesterone shots, and nightly petitioning to our Lord through the Blessed Virgin Mary and saints Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Gerard became daily routines over the course of the past 9 months. I came across this quote from Indian filmmaker and director Anurag Prakash Ray that applies directly to my attitude about waiting hold my daughter. He wrote, True love is worth waiting for even if it takes a lifetime. Then in return, a lifetime of love will be waiting for you.” Waiting for our rainbow baby truly does feel like it has been a lifetime—I am certain in the case of my wife she may feel like it has been several lifetimes! 

If a person has a negative mindset, waiting, and especially waiting for something with much anticipation, is quite painful and burdensome. However, shifting the focus away from negativity and instead towards hope, that burden of being agog will be bearable. Saint John Paul the Great lived a long life filled with suffering and waiting. Whenever I get anxious I look to him for advice. The great Polish pope declared, “From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s Will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God!

Throughout this season of expectation(s) be sure to always petition the Lord for help. This may be directly or through the effective intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints in Heaven. I welcome any and all prayers for the safe delivery of my daughter whenever she decides to arrive! 


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Red Wagon Ruminations

The great Irish poet Oscar Wilde once penned, “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” While I definitely would not dispute any of those items on his list, I recently came across an ordinary item that provoked a spirit of joy and gratitude that I would most certainly add to Wilde’s list! Before I do that I have a riddle for you, “What has four wheels, colored in red, and brings happiness?? Answer: While, technically a crimson corvette, may still be correct—the answer I was looking for was a red wagon! 

 

Over the past week we celebrated Christmas with my wife’s side of the family. One of the gifts that my father-in-law gave to my kids was a red wagon. I assembled the crimson coach while watching Sunday football. When my two year old woke from his nap his eyes lit up and shouted, “Wheels, wheels!” So far this week, I have taken the kids for a ride at least 5 times.  The following exchange between my 5 year-old daughter and I demonstrates how a simple children’s toy brings happiness.


 Daughter: “Wagon freedom!”

Me: “What does that mean?”

Daughter: “Freedom means I am happy.”


J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, Little by little, one travels far. His words perfectly summarized our wagon experiences. Through merely traveling a few blocks, either around our neighborhood, or to and from the elementary school, the short trip brought an immense amount of knowledge. From the click-clacking of the cotter pins as the wheels turned to the giggles of my children as I lugged them behind me, I traveled down Memory Lane to the nostalgia of my childhood and simpler times. 

Experiencing Christmastime with the attitude of gratitude, not only brings out the best in the season, but also the unexpected. Although at face value, a red wagon is not the most alluring, expensive, or glitzy gift, the joy it brought me and my childrencertainly exceeded expectations and brought joy!

Thank you for sharing!

A Birthday Letter to the Infant Son of God

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Below is a letter I dedicate to our Lord Jesus Christ in celebration of his birth, December 25, 2017 Anno Domini. 

Dear Baby Jesus,

In a stable, 2000 years ago, a seemingly ordinary infant was born. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, shepherds and kings from afar learned about His incredible presence. God uses the most common of circumstances to work the greatest of all miracles–the Incarnation. God so loved the world He sent you–His only Son– to bridge the great gulf, the separation caused by sin.

Wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, you my king took the form of mankind. I have heard the Nativity story dozens of times. This Advent I feared I would took your origin story for granted. Instead, I am grateful for the opportunity to gaze on the Nativity scene through new eyes–not merely of a follower, but also as a father.

My children performed in our parish’s Nativity Play. They donned the roles of a shepherd and an angel. The joy that gleamed from all the faces of my children–and the rest of the children in the play– warmed my soul. People are born everyday on this earth, but only once a year do we remember the greatest birth of all.

Jesus my servant king, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, God-hero, I adore you and celebrate with my family and friends the anniversary of your birth. I pray that my heart is enlarged to make room within the inn of my soul for you, my family, friends, and people I meet daily! Praise we to God in the Highest and Alleluia for our Savior’s arrival.

 

With great love and gratitude,

Your adopted son, Matt

***For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.***

 

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