My son was recently asked to write a short talk for a men's retreat at our parish. His topic was to be "Christmas".

Like my husband, my son, who has just turned 15, is a "man of action more than words" and is always quite succinct in his writing; with the ability to be very logical and profound without writing/saying much.

What a gift.

In his short essay, my son shared the following thought:

"As Catholics, we have a greater cause to proclaim December 25… not just as a national holiday, but as a holy day; worthy of remembering; the day that changed the world for every person; no matter who they are or what they believe in. There will be a place set aside just for them later on because of this day in history. As for me, I’m not just going to celebrate Christmas as a “person”, but as a Catholic. "

My son gave me reason to ponder:

Do I celebrate Christmas "like the world" or "like a Catholic"?

It is so easy to get pulled in and drawn to the secular glitz and glamor of the season. Songs like "Santa Baby" often replace the beautiful hymns of the Church if we rely on the radio, rather than personal cd's, as we travel in our cars.

"Get it now! On Sale" becomes the "sign" we are looking for, rather than the star that shone over the tiny city of Bethlehem, so long ago.

Our calendars are filled with party dates and shopping trips; but how often are we attending Mass and the beautiful penance services that so many parishes offer this time of year?

How often too, do I rush out the door after Sunday's Mass, when I could spend time sitting near the lovely Advent Wreath; reflecting upon the words of "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel" that we've just sung together as a congregation?

I am grateful for the wisdom and insight of my son.

Like my daughter did, just a few weeks ago at the Ladies' Retreat, he has shared his heart and in so-doing, has greatly touched my own.

I have resolved to spend this final week of Advent and the coming days of Christmas, celebrating each, not just as "a person", but as "a Catholic".

Our beautiful Faith contains the fullness of God's Truth for the world. The great miracle and mystery of Christmas Day is part of the essence of that Truth.

We are blessed to be free to worship and celebrate and honor our Infant Savior; out in the open, without fear of persecution like so many in the world face today.

We have the Mass. We have the Sacraments. We have Adoration. We have our wonderful Mother Church and Magisterium.

Let us embrace who we are, as Catholics, in order to receive the fullness of the gifts and blessings of the season that our Father in heaven wishes to send.

For those of us who know, love, and serve the Lord through His Holy and Apostolic Church on will truly be a very Merry Christmas.

Copyright 2011 Judy Dudich