This Advent live differently
Although Advent has just begun, I am enjoying the free conference by Parousia Media. Jesus’ genealogy is being traced in short daily videos. Now if I sit down with those scriptures in meditation and wonder what this means to me today, I am sure God will bring it full circle into my life. 😊
Heritage is an important part of who we are. Some researchers claim culture is passed down genetically through the generations. The crux of every culture is their belief in the ‘divine other’, their religion. It is from these beliefs that rituals and rules emerge to govern their society, whether it be a small tribe or a large country. For example, in biblical times people were to marry within their tribe. That is why Joseph’s genealogy is important. Demonstrating that he is of the tribe of David confirms that Mary is too.
Prior to the popular Ancestry.com, people actually shared their heritage person-to-person; imagine that! Stories are an important part of us. These help to explain how we got here and, to some extent, why great-grandpa is a miser and aunt Sally is a nag! Nearly every family can point to that “Holy Grandma” back in their family tree who all agree to be the exemplar. To be holy is to be set aside for God, and so no surprise that these were typically persons of a great lived faith.
The rapid rise in Internet genealogy websites shows we are people seeking a past; a foundation in which to be grounded. Evil forces in our society are attempting to destroy our American and our Catholic heritage. Two generations of American Catholics have been raised without pride in, patriotism for or loyalty to either. With no past to guide the future, we are left to a very one-dimensional present existence. Yet nothing prevents us this Advent season from embracing our own personal heritage, especially coming to know those Holy elders of our past. This is important to strengthening the family culture of the domestic church, our homes. Whether a cradle Catholic or convert, you will find Catholicism in your background. Most countries in the world have had a period of Catholicism in their history. Those that do not did have their Catholic missionaries and martyrs. Even Squanto was Catholic! As God’s adopted children through Jesus Christ, these are our family and our heritage. Find out how far back Catholicism goes in your cultural heritage. Learn of their experience in the circumstances of their time.
Even in these pandemic times, families can be together by some means, and no one should be alone. Typically, however, for many families the holiday gatherings result in re-opening old wounds or trying to prove who is right and wrong on any issue. For decades, research has documented that suicide and depression skyrocket between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Arguments can be as silly as fighting over who is the best football quarterback or as polarizing as politics; the very person one idolizes another demonizes. Talking instead about family history and heritage can build bonds rather than burning bridges between family members. Knowledge of heritage is our bridge to the past, the glue connecting us with one another, and the fuel for pride to carry forward.
As Dr. Edward Sri encouraged…
“Let’s be Catholic. Let’s be really Catholic and celebrate Advent. When people look at your life … do they see that your life is different? Can they tell, ‘oh you must be a Catholic because you’re celebrating Advent’?”[i]
When I was a child, we heard stories about our family and heritage. My dad had to walk two miles through the snow to get to school. My grandfather (mother’s father) was laid off in the Great Depression because he was ‘old’ (age 55) and never worked again—age discrimination. We would sit around boxes of old photos and hear stories of the event or situation taking place. We came to know people in a personal way even though we would never meet them. And we belonged to each other because we were family. We grew to have a sense of solidarity as we felt a share in their struggles even though it happened in the distant past. Our respect for their accomplishments, sheer survival, in overcoming hardships gave us pride because this was our family heritage that we carry forward.
Embracing your Catholic heritage and family cultural backgrounds will help you to better love your own extended family, even the toxic personalities. I encourage you to reflect upon what a family culture is. In prayer with God, as you walk this Advent with the Holy Family, discover your own. Let your life be truly different.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
[i] Dr. Edward Sri Advent Pilgrimage, Parousia Media https://watch.parousiamedia.com/programs/dr-ed-sri-talkmov-6bb57f
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