"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." James 1: 17
For the last three years now I have faced insistent questioning from my eleven-year-old daughter Sophie about whether or not there is a Santa. Her sense of hopeful wonder has been struggling mightily against the majority of her classmates and their clear certainty about the ruse. And as we talked this through I remembered and told her about a wonderful story I had heard. It was about a similar child who, upon hearing from classmates that Santa was fictional, fled to his matter-of-fact grandmother for the truth. His grandmother never sugar coated anything and he secretly feared that she would support his classmates. Instead, she insisted that Santa did exist and took little David to a general store to prove it. "Buy something for someone who desperately needs it," she said. "I'll wait in the car." And she left him there with ten dollars.
The young boy agonized over whom to pick. Then he remembered a classmate who never took recess because he couldn't afford a winter coat. So David grabbed a warm-looking jacket from the rack and placed it on the counter, explaining to the shop owner that it was for his friend Billy, who was destitute. The shopkeeper paused, and then packaged the $100 coat and placed it in the boy's hands. Needless to say the young boy was thrilled when he saw his friend on the playground wearing the new coat. When he told his grandmother she squeezed his hand and said: "Well done … Santa."
I have always bristled at the commercialization of Christmas, and especially the emphasis on gifts at the clear expense of Jesus who should be the heart of the season. So it is critical to remember, at this extraordinary time of year, that at heart we can all be Santa – if we remember why we give. I'm reminded of this when I look at all the caregiving organizations in Calgary alone. Each year, one of my favourite charities—the Our Lady Queen of Peace Ranch—opens its doors to the most disadvantaged families in Calgary for a remarkable Christmas party. Once at the ranch, children can load up on winter clothes, stuffies, food and Christmas cheer, all provided free of charge by the ranch's owners, and distributed by an army of volunteers. Each year St. Mary's University in Calgary sends scores of students, staff and faculty to this remarkable event. Last year almost one fifth of university students signed up to help!
So although I remain cranky at commercialization, I have no issue at all with the giving culture as long as it's wrapped in the spirit of good and the commitment to all that is the hallmark of Christ's teaching. In that context I remember the unsung Santas: certainly the volunteers, but also people like the shopkeeper or the owners of the ranch. And in that context I can comfortably say, Yes, Virginia and Sophie there really is a Santa!
Written by: Dr. Gerry Turcotte
The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC), published by the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy in 1997, outlines clearly and succinctly the role and mandate of the diocesan Office of Catechesis:
The organization of catechetical pastoral care has as its reference point the Bishop and the Diocese. The diocesan catechetical office (Officium Catechisticum) is "the means which the Bishop as head of the community and teacher of doctrine utilizes to direct and moderate all the catechetical activities of the diocese". (GDC 265)
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Encourage is a support ministry that is dedicated to the spiritual needs of parents, siblings, children and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attraction.
Many of us either know someone or are close to someone with a homosexual or same sex attraction. Encourage is a support ministry within the Catholic Church, which assists people who are not same sex attracted themselves however either have children, friends or family members who have identified themselves as struggling with this issue.
Encourage offers faithful witness to Catholic teaching on sexual morality while meeting the needs of its members with charity and compassion and cultivating a supportive accepting environment in which the more immediate goals of fostering personal chastity and sexual abstinence can be valued.
"You are always my child;
nothing can ever change that,
you are also a child of God, gifted and
called for a purpose in God's design."
- "Always our Children" USCCB
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