At the Christmas season, more gifts are exchanged than at any other time. Seeing excited children opening their presents and seeing the warm smile in elders receiving a gift in gratitude are joys to behold. Allow me to give a suggestion for capturing an even greater joy in our season of gifts.
The Italian proverb, “La providdenza di Dio non manca mai” translates, “God’s providence never fails us.”
Christmas season is a time to especially recall God’s providence. It’s a unique opportunity to meditate on moments like the instant God thought of us and we became; to ponder, “Why me and not someone else? Why am I living in this place, not somewhere else? Why am I blessed with supportive friends?”
In the Canticle of Daniel, we’re reminded of God’s providence in helping us through life. For example, we pray that the sun, moon and stars bless the Lord, encouraging us to be grateful for the beauty of the world’s order and how it supports us.
“Seas and rivers, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever. You sea monsters and all water creatures, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever. All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever” — reminds us how God sustains our necessities of life (Daniel 3:78-80).
God’s providence reminds us that even though we think we’re in control of our life, it only exists thanks to God.
The Christmas season of gifts blesses us with an opportunity to recall the ultimate gifts we enjoy daily thanks to God’s providence.
Material gifts are a joy to receive especially when they are given with care, and they warm a love-deserving heart. They turn the moment into ecstatic joy. We can only wonder how much more ecstatic we would be if we used our gifts to deepen the realization that all the goodness and beauty we experience are credited to a loving providential God.
May I suggest that each day during this season we thank God for the necessities of life, the beauty that surrounds us, the companionship of friends, our families and those who went before us and are the reason that we exist today.
Father Hemrick is the director of the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood.