Father Tirso

Once again we have come upon the holiday season. For many of us the next two holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas are among the highlights of our year. These are perhaps two holidays that are anticipated by so many and fill many hearts with joy and excitement.

Indeed, a life of gratitude ought to be a central part of who we are as Catholic Christians. We gather with our families this week to “count our blessings.” In the act of gratitude, we recognize the grace of God that is at work at every moment of our lives. Aware of that grace that is constantly present, we respond to the call of God to share the blessings by becoming a blessing to the world.

Of course, that grace could not come to us without the other big holiday that we anticipate at this time of the year. Christmas is the celebration of the greatest of God’s gifts to us which is none other than Jesus himself, the one who is God-with-us. Jesus truly is the “reason for the season” because he is the font of all blessings and he is God’s greatest gift to the world.

As we again remember the blessings that we have been given in our own lives, I would like us to remember especially that call to become ourselves a blessing to others. For too many people, the struggles of life, whether they be financial, physical or emotional, make it close to impossible to see the many ways that they, too, have been blessed by God. While it is true that we all have our struggles and difficulties, for many people those struggles have become an endless cycle out of which there seems to be no escape. Even though generosity and charity ought to be a daily part of our lives as followers of Jesus, this time of year is a good opportunity to rededicate our selves to the works of mercy which are essential to who we are as disciples of our Lord.

As we prepare for the coming holidays, here are just a few ways we might be able to use as outlets for our acts of charity and generosity to those who are in need:

  1. The Giving Tree - This year we are focusing more on local families (Catholic and non-Catholic) who are struggling financially and may not be able to afford gifts for themselves this Christmas. We are a little behind in our plans, but we should have cards available soon with the information on families in the area that are in need of help with gifts for the holidays. As we had mentioned previously, we are focusing our efforts more on families who are members of SMM or live in the immediate vicinity of the parish. Our former SVDP conference is putting together a list of families it used to serve that we might be able to assist through the Giving Tree. In addition to that, I also spoke with the principal of St. Thomas of Canterbury School were I was prior to SMM. A good majority of the families who are part of STC School are refugees and recent immigrants from various African countries. Most of those families actually live in the Rogers Park area so I asked the principal if she could provide us with about five families that we might be able to assist through the Giving Tree.

  2. Angel Hair Ministries - On Saturday, December 9th, a friend of mine and I are once again putting together a service project which will take place at St. Thomas of Canterbury Parish. In this event, we will provide free basic haircuts to those who are poor or homeless in the Uptown area of Chicago. We started this ministry about three years ago and we are happy once again to host it for those in Uptown which is still a very depressed area of our city. As part of this event, we will also provide lunch, personal sized toiletries, and clothing for those who will need it. If you would like to volunteer or donate any items, you can let me know as soon as possible. We are especially in need of anyone who might know how to cut hair. No professional experience is necessary, but if there are people willing to help with the actual hair cutting, we would greatly appreciate it.

There are, of course, so many other ways to be a blessing to others at this time of year. It does not matter what we choose to do. It only matters that we take seriously the call to live our lives in such a way that those who are burdened by the struggles of life will know the gift of God’s love through our charity and generosity.

Fr. Tirso S. Villaverde, Jr.

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