The Southern Cross : December 2010
opinion The Southern Cross December 2010 Page 11 www.adelaide.catholic.org.au The Southern Cross Finding peace at Christmas Gift of giving A South Australian Catholic Family Company Proudly S.A. owned Metropolitan & Country 13 Sturt Road, Brighton SA 5048 24-Hour Service Greg O'Neill Steven Farrell Mobile: 0421 654 427 email@example.com 'Excellence without extravagance' 8296 3134 Pre-Paid Funeral Plan available with There is something significant about Christmas that enables it to be expressed and celebrated as a non-Christian, western world event. The concept of peace and goodwill to all, transcends the toughest veneers, and it has become a time where society genuinely creates a space for expressions of love and peace. The coming together of family is a major focus at Christmas, with more of an emphasis of families getting on well and feeling the love, than at any other time of the year. Reconnecting with friends not seen for a while and getting to know work colleagues in a more informal setting through Christmas parties is another way of celebrating this special season. Donations of gifts and food for the less privileged, and the charity drives advertised in the media, draws upon the generosity of others in a climate of gratitude perhaps not experienced throughout the year. So we have created a time on our calendar that is compartmentalised into expressing warm thoughts, buying gifts, gathering for work and social parties, singing particular songs, being with family, along with eating and drinking. It doesn't sound that bad really given there is a genuine undercurrent of goodwill that lifts the mood in the street, coupled with the anticipation of the special day to be shared on the 25th. I am continually in awe of the cleverness of consumerism, which over time has massaged people into a way of being that feels good about Christmas, but has no substance. It is not that difficult to commit to loving Christ, it is not that difficult to live a life focussed on trying to get to know Him more, and it is not that difficult to recognise we have a lot to learn. We are realistic about the challenges that face us in our human struggles. But consumerism has done a better job than we have at selling the meaning of Christmas. Every year is a cause for reflection of how this happened. How did this Christian celebration become so unrecognisable and such a different experience from the simple and meaningful day of remembering Jesus' birth? It is not that the sentiments of peace and love are insincere between people, but the carols in the shops, the glistening trees in the foyers, and the pressure of buying gifts, are all experienced outside of an expression of Christ's love for us. As with all societal challenges that face us, the moment of change always begins with us, as individuals. The season of Christmas is a measure of not just how we as a society is faring in experiencing Christ as a major influence, but how we as individuals are aware of the driving influence that shapes our thinking and behaviour at Christmas. In these busy weeks of Christmas, let us commit to a moment each day to cradle the peace of Christmas in our hearts. A gentle gift to ourselves, that will collectively bring peace to many. pauline connelly CHRISTMAS IN THE MALL: The Catholic School of Evangelisation presented Celebrate Emmanuel, an ecumenical Christmas outreach activity in the Rundle Mall last month. Performers included the Shine Choir, B.A.S.I.C. (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) from the Noarlunga Parish of St Luke, the Tyndale Christian College Choir from Salisbury and the Holy Cross Choir from Goodwood. The Nativity Procession by children from several parishes and schools included Jonathan Siow, the son of the Holy Cross Choir conductor Ar thur Siow, as baby Jesus. A dear friend of mine confided recently that she was dreading the arduous task of putting up the Christmas tree, only to have to take it down a few weeks later, and that it all seemed a bit senseless, particularly now that her children were teenagers. She quickly added that of course she would have a tree -- and that her sons would be horrified if there wasn't one -- but she also expressed a hint of admiration for a mutual friend who just covered the tree -- complete with decorations -- rather than dismantling it when she put it away in the cupboard each year, to make life easier for herself. Like other aspects of Christmas, the tree is an important tradition for most families and a sign that the festive season is well and truly upon us -- hence our need to delay its appearance some years! The presents that lie underneath it are also an important part of the celebration of Christmas and can be cause for stress as we rush around trying to find the perfect gift for each recipient. I well remember panicking when my children were little about whether they would be suitably impressed with their surprises on Christmas morning, which sometimes led to some strange choices like a real drum set for the first-born when he was only three! It certainly had the wow factor, but fortunately it was short-lived, and by the third child we were quite comfortable with second-hand bikes in disguise. As the children grew up I was relieved to discover that often they were just as excited to see what their siblings received as they were about their own presents and now they are in their teens, they seem to get a lot of enjoyment from thinking of something special to give mum and dad or relatives. Similarly, people's generosity in donating to charities at Christmas time is evidence that there is much to be gained from giving. So while it's easy to be cynical about the commercialism of Christmas, we can still use the traditional symbols of the occasion, such as the act of giving presents or giving to charities, as a reminder that at the heart of the matter is the birth of Christ and his message to love one another. Here in Adelaide we have started our own traditions, such as the annual blessing of the cribs and the involvement of migrant communities in this practice, which will also help to keep Christ in His rightful place at the forefront of Christmas. -- Jenny Brinkworth In parピcular, we thank our sponsors/partners: Catholic Church Insurances Wa─le Range Council South Australian Tourism Commission Rosemary Milisits OAM Vili Milisits OAM City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peter's David Wong Limestone Coast Tourism Department of Premier and Cabinet SA Water Rann Communicaピon DBusiness Events Event Managers Australia Novatech Also special thanks to: Sisters of St Joseph Marshalls and other volunteers for Adelaide and Penola Clergy and other religious orders Knights of the Southern Cross SA Police Media Adelaide Entertainment Centre Mary MacKillop College Mary MacKillop Memorial School, Penola Chrisピan Brothers College St Johns Ambulance State Emergency Services Mary MacKillop Centre, Penola Mary MacKillop Exhibiピon Centre, Kensington, and Sr Patricia Keane Arピsts and performers in Adelaide and Penola Catholic Educaピon SA and Catholic schools Brighton Secondary School Choir Catholic migrant communiピes and parishes Canonisaピon Commi─ee Procession Commi─ee InJoy Internaピonal Funk Café Pauline Books Chrisピan Supplies Food vendors The Adelaide Archdiocese would like to thank the following businesses, organisaピons and individuals for helping to make the canonisaピon celebraピons for Australia's grst saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, such a great success.