By Frank Wessling
The last two months on the calendar are sometimes called the Holiday Season. After we’ve finished with Halloween this week, attention will turn to Thanksgiving and the noise of commercial Christmas rising fast in the background. We are encouraged toward a festive attitude that opens us up: open to celebrating, open to other people, open to generosity, and yes, open to spending money.
An openness of spirit defines this coming season, inviting us out of any isolation we might feel and into a new or fresh warmth about life itself. Its business profit side can be distracting as the advertising campaigns build up, but let’s keep our attention on the soul of the season — generosity, even extravagant generosity.
It’s a special time to be in a sharing relationship with the world.
There are practical ways to feed this spirit.
Appeals will come in the form of food drives, clothing drives, Toys for Tots and the special appeals our parishes make for Thanksgiving and during the Advent season. Pick one or two of the appeals and give it or them some special time and attention. As others try to grab your attention, give them a token if you wish, but don’t feel guilty about passing them by. Our limitations are real, not bad. Let them be a reminder that we aren’t God. We can be God’s friends and helpers, though.
None of us can do everything but each of us can do something. It sounds trite and like a cliché when expressed that way, but this is a truth to live by. Keep it in mind to help you through the Holiday Season, the shopping season, the Christmas season, so that it all becomes the season of generosity.
In this way we will all be well prepared to join in the offering of Mass on Christmas; in the Eucharist we share as celebration of God-with-us.
On the road to atheism?
“Late modern society is principally concerned with purchasing things in ever greater abundance and variety, and so has to strive to fabricate an ever greater number of desires to gratify and to abolish as many limits and prohibitions upon desire as it can. Such a society is already implicitly atheist, and so must slowly but relentlessly apply itself to the dissolution of transcendent values. It cannot allow ultimate goods to distract us from proximate goods.
“Our sacred writ is advertising, our piety is shopping, our highest devotion is private choice. God and the soul too often hinder the purely acquisitive longings upon which the market depends, and confront us with values that stand in stark rivalry to the only truly substantial value at the center of the social universe: the price tag.”
— from “The Experience of God” by David Bentley Hart
Sign of the times: Large department store chains J. C. Penney, Macy’s and Kohl’s announced in October that they will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to meet growing demand. Past experience has shown that shoppers have liked the move toward stores opening on the former holiday.