There are many ways in which the Church is out of step with our secular culture, but I think in no way more obvious than at this time of year. While the wider culture seeks to rush us towards Christmas (carols on the radio before Halloween? Really?!), the Church asks us to slow down and wait. While lights are strung and increasingly outrageous decorations are mounted on the front lawn, we light candles on the Advent wreath. While television commercials entice us to buy more and bigger, the Church points to a child born in poverty in a manager.
This is a great time of year to remind ourselves — and the families in our Catholic schools and parish catechetical programs — about what is really important.
If I could make a small request, I would ask every catechist and catechetical leader to invite your families to Christmas Mass. Not with a note or Sunday announcement, but a face-to-face invitation. I know not every Catholic family is in the habit of attending Mass every Sunday. But if we could encourage them to start out the Christmas season on the right foot — not by tearing open wrapping paper, but by giving thanks to the God that has blessed them — we just might start a few more on that path. And what a glorious gift that would be.