This Christmas Give Hope


What does it mean to give a meaningful present? One that is a true expression of our love… can we truly take our hearts and wrap them in shiny paper, and give them in a way that affirms the worth of the recipient, the very value in their existence? This is a great challenge.

When I was shopping recently for my kids, seeing so many rows upon rows of plastic nonsense toys in the huge box stores left me feeling empty. All this abundance seemed a bit pointless, when so much of it was soon to be destined for the dump. It’s not that I hate toys. I still have stuffed animals and doll house furniture from when I was a kid, not to mention my stamp collection and books.

I think what bothered me was all these unnecessary things being consumed so voraciously, when so many other children in the world don’t even have a bed, or clean water, or a home to call their own. No one has given them gifts to affirm the very worth of their existence. Perhaps they don’t even have parents to kiss them goodnight and tell them how much they are loved. But instead of simply being grinchy and depressed by this, I wanted to do something, even if it was something tiny.

So I found a way to take some of these little broken pieces of my heart, wrap them with love, and send them overseas. The kids and I did it together, because it is so important that they learn to give, and not just to expect gifts from life. They will be happier this way; moreover, they will be more truly human. What did we do then? I usually hate spending money but this was my absolute favourite shopping of this year! We visited charity websites like Doctors Without Borders and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

We read about the impoverished and displaced people they help, and chose the gifts that spoke most to our hearts, like a sturdy tent to shelter a homeless family, blankets and mats to sleep on, and a water filter to provide clean water and help prevent disease. Another that tugged my heart strings was a Kangaroo Care Wrap that can double the chances of survival for a premie baby, by keeping her skin to skin and close to her mother’s heart. Having lost a full term baby girl five years ago, the idea of being able to help another baby survive was irresistible. For a mere $15, I could reach across the ocean and give a baby a chance at life, and a mother freedom from the tragedy of loss. My kids were really excited, too. They felt true joy at doing something so good for others.


Another wonderful charity is Chalice, which sponsors poor children, helps their parents learn to plan their finances carefully, and gives them support and tools with which to earn a more stable livelihood. So if you want to empower families in need to become more independent by giving gifts like livestock, seeds, farming tools, a sewing machine or bicycle, etc, this might be a great charity for you.

I hope you’ve found inspiration in the great work that many people are doing around the world. If there’s anyone left on your list this Christmas Eve, consider giving them a gift that truly affirms their humanity and your own. The charities will send a nice e-card describing the important gift that was given in your loved one’s name.

Remember, we are not mere consumers! We are not robots who can run on money and possessions alone. We are all, each and everyone of every race and background, children of God who are strengthened by loving each other more deeply. This is what the Incarnation is about. The God who loves us all so tenderly that he wanted to affirm our intrinsic worth and erase all fear or doubt of our worthiness of being loved from our minds. He wrapped his divine heart in the frail paper of humanity and came to live among us, as a shepherd smelling of his sheep. He brought all the light and glory and splendour and magic of Heaven down to earth, to share it with us through his creation, if we would only reach out our hands to touch his and embrace this precious gift of life.

I hope you can find him this Christmas. In all the organizational Olympics of preparing your home for Christmas, may you see God at each turn…in the smiling face of your children and guests, in the beautiful colours of your Christmas meal, in the sparkling colours of lights on your tree…but also in moments of loneliness, sadness or rejection, and in the poor faces of humanity across the world, who need affirmation that they, too, are truly beautiful and loved.


God bless you all this Christmas, and as my favourite radio man Archishop Fulton Sheen used to say, “God love you!”

coals of divine love

Do we realize our immense dignity

as children of God? 

That we are

with the coals of divine love 

burning in our souls

as walking tabernacles

of the Holy Spirit?

Every touch, every gesture

should be one of love

as done by one bearing an immense treasure,

a wealth of gleaming gold

inside a simple earthen vessel.

How then our work can be an act of worship

done in union with God within us

with the delicacy of one in love.

May we glow with this warmth

bringing affection to all we encounter

and the joy of being children of God

ever in His presence. 


merciful covering of cuteness

As we do our prayer tonight,

the baby stands up in my arms

quivering with curiosity

as he stares at his elephant blankie.

His little sweet self—

neath those pudgy cheeks and bright eyes—

filled with the radiance of eternity…

How is it that we are not blinded 

by its brightness?

Merciful covering of cuteness!

Of course as I pray and write this poem,

baby works very hard to fill his diaper

and sends a mustard streak up his back.

Oh, the comedy of being children of God

and also, oh, so very human!


Some Things the Broken Heart Knows

There are some things the broken heart knows. It knows them in a way not unreasonable, but beyond reason, deeper than it. I know that love is not limited. We don’t run out. There are people who would say that because the baby I lost was my sixth, she didn’t matter as much. That it wasn’t such a terrible tragedy, because I have the others. That perhaps I didn’t need to love her all that much, because I already had enough.

But I can tell you something, from the depths of my soul, that each child is worth all the love the universe can contain. And they do not earn it. Do not need to. A mother’s heart loves her child because that’s what it was created to do, because that’s what it must do, the way we must breathe in order to live.

I love Josephine even though she never took a breath. I love Josephine even though she never once had the chance to smile at me. I love Josephine even though she will never say “Mama,”until I reach the pearly gates. I love her simply because she is my daughter and always will be.

And I want to share with you through my tears, what came to me in prayer: that each one of you, each one of us, myself included, is one of those precious children who is infinitely and unconditionally loved by God.

Perhaps many of us find this hard to except. We think we need to earn love, we think we need to deserve it. But our Father God loves each one of us with all the madness of the heart in love, with all the tender awe of a father holding his newborn child. He loves you simply because you exist. He loves you because he created you and you are his own, and he will love you forever. No matter what. Despite everything. Because the nature of Love is to love.

Every child is a universe unto themselves, it is said, and every child is a unique creation with a unique mission. We should have such reverence and respect for every single person. Created by God they are sacred; loved by God they are precious. In fact so precious that God, just like a human father, so willingly gives his life for each one of them.

I understand this better now. If there is anything I could have done to save my daughter, even at the cost of my own life, I would do it. A parent’s love doesn’t count the cost. God’s love doesn’t need to be earned because a parent’s love doesn’t need to be earned. All it wants is to be returned. And across time and space, from the throne of grace where she sits curled up on our Father God’s lap, my little daughter’s love reaches me.