‘On the Spot’ aims to highlight some of the complex positions, questions and comments experienced by Catechists, teachers and parents. It tries to outline the knowledge necessary to be faithful to Church teaching and which will best help those we teach who call us to account for the hope that is in us. [cf I Peter 3:15] This time we consider the ways in which Advent and Christmas have been diminished in popular thought, both Christian and secular, and suggest that prayer is the true means through which to integrate delight and altruism.
“It’s all about the children really, isn’t it?” Overheard at many a bus stop, this remark, soothing and universal in appeal, establishes a comfortable and unchallenging approach to the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Christmas, obviously, is all about children, their pleasure in the gifts they are given, our own pleasure in giving the gifts, the holiday season with its parties and rest from school, visits to family, friends and places of entertainment, to say nothing of endless sessions in front of various electronic screens.
And if there are no children? Perhaps there never were any in the family, or they have grown and gone. Some will organise the equivalent of childish enjoyment for themselves, with extra food and drink, visiting, parties and pleasure. Others will take refuge in altruism, helping at the parish Christmas lunch for the homeless, or the local soup kitchen or hospital.