Advent Angel (Part 2)

Photo by Flickr user Jim, the Photographer

In my previous blog, I described the rich tradition in my parish where families get to be Advent Angels to another family. I also mentioned the neat gift idea of giving a nativity set to a family as small gifts over the four weeks of Advent.

It was the first Sunday in Advent. We had planned to go to the theater for a family movie. We thought we could stop by a store and pick up our nativity set and prepare it for our Advent Angel when we got home.

That was the plan at least.

So, first we head to Walmart. Our whole family pushed our cart all around the store to find the Christmas section. We combed every aisle including the gardening area for a nativity set. Finally, we broke down and asked an employee for help.

My statement, “We are looking for a nativity set,” was received with an expressionless, vacant look.

“You know…..Mary, Baby Jesus, Joseph.”

The Asian Walmart employee again looked blankly at us as we asked where they had a nativity set. I had the same experience the previous year when I asked an Asian employee at Target for a nativity set. I was beginning to think it might be a cultural issue.

It was then when I flashed back to our trip in 2005 to Communist China when adopting our daughter. My husband and I went to the hotel desk where we were staying and asked whether there was a Catholic Church for us to go to in order to attend mass. I knew there was an underground valid Catholic Church in addition to the state sponsored “Catholic Church”. But we thought it would not hurt to make an effort to attend mass, even if the Vatican didn’t recognize the Chinese government’s “Catholic Church”. In response to our question, the hotel employees looked at us with the same blank stare. They talked between themselves that there might be a Catholic Church in Hong Kong, three hours away.

It felt as if a very unfriendly blast of winter cold air blew over me. It is so easy to take for granted how blessed we are for having religious freedom in this country until you consider what it would be like to not be able to go to mass and receive the Eucharist.

I felt like I had steady flow of uncomfortable, unpleasant cool air come over me as we tried store after store after store trying to purchase a nativity set. The pit of my stomach started to burn. Have we really declined this much as a country?

The words of my pastor I heard in the homily earlier in the day as a recommendation for a good Advent was, “Make sure your to have a holy day not just a holiday”. He encouraged us not to let the culture extract Christ from Christmas.

Read how not to let the “holiday” pressures get you away from your Advent “holy day” in the next blog.

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Use your Advent sacrifice to help you keep Jesus the focus this Advent and to show gratitude for the religious freedom you have to celebrate Christmas openly.