Christmas Joy, Gift of the Heart, Holy Eucharist, Joy, Joy of Giving, Mass, Presentation of the Gifts
It’s been a while since my last post, before Thanksgiving, in fact. I hope you had a very merry and blessed Christmas and a peaceful and pleasant New Year.
Christmas 2020 was supposed to be the year that my wife and I would get together with all four daughters and their families, but, with COVID, that didn’t happen. We had some disappointment but we understood the circumstances and declared, “No Foul”, and no hard feelings. We were very thankful that everyone was healthy even though we couldn’t all be together.
We did, however, travel to Lake Charles, Louisiana to spend Christmas with our daughter and her family who live there, and another daughter traveled to meet us from her home in Memphis. We spent the week together enjoying mild weather, good food, and good conversation. And, although we love our daughters dearly, the highlight of the visit was spending Christmas with our two grandsons, ages 4, and 23 months.
It is always a special time on Christmas morning when the little ones open their gifts. Paper, ribbons, and bows fly everywhere, and as soon as one gift is opened they are on to the next one. I love to see the excitement and the smiles of magical wonder on the children’s faces.
But, this Christmas, I found myself observing the morning mayhem a little differently. As much as I noticed the grandchildren’s amazement at receiving their gifts, I witnessed the joy on my daughters’ and son-in-law’s faces as they watched the little ones open their gifts, gifts that they gave out of love. It brought back beautiful memories of the joy I experienced of giving gifts to my own daughters when they were children. That was always the best part of Christmas for me and I loved seeing my daughters experience that same joy. The old adage, “It’s better to give than it is to receive”, came to mind, and I had to nod in agreement.
This two week old memory came to mind yesterday right after receiving Communion at Mass. As I walked back to my pew I thought about all those who have denied themselves the Blessed Sacrament because of their social distancing fears, or who have, through laissez-faire attitudes, grown comfortable with the habit of not attending Mass. Back at my pew, kneeling and offering a prayer of thanksgiving for having received Christ in the Holy Eucharist, I prayed for those folks by again making my own offering to Him as I do every morning and at every Mass during the presentation of the gifts: “Heavenly Father, I offer You my prayer, work, joy and suffering, and I unite it to Your sacrifice made present in the Mass and I offer it for the conversion of souls. Amen.”
I wondered if they truly know and miss this gift of love that Christ so desires to give us if we just come to Him? I mean, isn’t the reason we go to Mass to receive Him?
And then that’s when Christmas came to mind. I had it wrong. I had it backwards. We go to Mass to give ourselves as a gift to God, to unite our hearts to the heart of Jesus through His sacrifice, to love Him for loving us and sacrificing His life for us. We give ourselves freely to please God, to bring Him joy, to put a smile on His face. And, in return, he gives Himself, and the infinite love of a happy Father which accompanies it, to us.
It’s the joy of giving that we miss when we don’t go to Mass. It’s the missed opportunity to know that we have pleased God, and to show our gratitude for the experience. And, since we know the happiness it brings when we give a loving gift to another, we fail to relate to the happiness we are denying God when He can’t give Himself to us.
Thinking about that adage, “It’s better to give than it is to receive”, I decided there needs to be a corollary to it: “The joy of giving makes the joy of receiving so much better!”
I know there are certain folks for whom it may still be too risky to go to church to worship. But, friends, if at all possible, find a way to return to Mass. Rediscover the feeling of giving yourself to the Father so that He can give Himself to you with unimaginable love. Find your happiness by making Him happy.
“Lord Jesus, I love You. And, like giving gifts to my children and grandchildren whom I love dearly, I know it pleases You and brings You joy when I give myself as a gift to You. Thank You for Your immense love and returning it to me in the Holy Eucharist. Amen.”
(The Joy of Gift Giving was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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Well said my friend.
What Joy He brings us and what Joy we can return to Him.
On Fri, Jan 8, 2021 at 12:18 AM Reflections of a Lay Catholic wrote:
> Jerry Robinson posted: ” “The Last Supper”, Jaume Huguet, c. 1470 It’s > been a while since my last post, before Thanksgiving, in fact. I hope you > had a very merry and blessed Christmas and a peaceful and pleasant New > Year. Christmas 2020 was supposed to be the year that my” >
Jerry Robinson said:
Thank you, Joe. Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Clay Wisser said:
That’s your best one yet! I saw a friend at Ace hardware a while back. We had a short conversation but during that time I asked how he was doing. He evaded the nature of my question so i asked him more directly, “have you been attending mass?” He wouldn’t make eye contact but said “no.” Without any hesitation I invited him back and encouraged him to go. The gift of seeing him each week is his gift to me. Thank you.
Jerry Robinson said:
Thank you, Clay. Wow, that’s a great example of discipleship! It is a gift that’s been given to you. We are all the body of Christ and every person that goes to Mass is a gift to the rest of us. Thank you for sharing that. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Judy Orourke said:
I agree with what you’re saying, everyone should come back to the Lord and the Eucharist. I am back because I sorely missed the Eucharist. I know I’m in the hands of the Lord, whatever he wants to do with me. And although I encourage others to come back to Mass, it is in their heart to do what God wants them to do and when. The fear of COVID that some Catholics have is truly real. I just pray that God will bring them back as well. Our job is to encourage them, not judge them.
Jerry Robinson said:
Thank you, Judy, for reading and commenting. More importantly, thank you for coming back! Everyone who returns to mass is giving a gift to the rest of us, the entire body of Christ. If it seemed as though I was judging, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intention. I truly understand that many people have chosen not to return to Mass out of concern and risk to their personal health or that of others. My real hope was that it would encourage those who perhaps do not have a legitimate reason, but do so because it’s become a habit, to return to weekly communion. Pre-COVID, about 15% of all Catholics attended Sunday Mass. The latest surveys show that number is now at about 4%. That scares me. I think many do not consider what their heart is telling them or, if they do, they turn away and turn towards immediate pleasure. Life is easier when you can sleep later and stay in your pajamas until noon. As an engineer, I think about a couple principles of physics: entropy and inertia. The first, entropy, is the principle that things naturally lose their energy through degradation (for people that can mean laziness). The second, is that a body at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. We all need to be a gentle and encouraging outside force to bring people back to life in Christ. Finally, and people don’t want to hear this, but the lack of desire to seek God falls into the category of Sloth, or Acedia, which is one of the Seven Deadly Sins (CCC 2094 & 2733). The souls of those in this category are in jeopardy.