December 5, 1985 – “Dear children! I am calling you to prepare yourselves for Christmas by means of penance, prayer and works of charity. Dear children, do not look toward material things, because then you will not be able to experience Christmas. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
First off, for those Stateside, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Secondly, yesterday marked the official start of the Christmas shopping season. Brace yourself, folks. I give you… Black Friday!
Yes, Black Friday. The day following Thanksgiving where modern man goes from a civil human being to wild beast. All for tupperware, kids’ toys, towels, discount electronics, and toilet paper.
Yes, toilet paper. I know. I wish it were a bad joke, too.
(Seriously, thank God for online shopping. Makes Christmas shopping easy and painless!)
A simple search on Youtube, or even glancing at local news, you’ll probably find all kinds of footage of the unbridled avarice of many Black Friday shoppers. So much so that it’s been known to get quite ugly at times; fist fights, temper tantrums, stealing, swearing, vandalism, and utter mayhem. Some may find it amusing, but over the years I’ve come to find it quite disheartening.
Not only does it start off the Christmas season on a bad note, but it begs the question: What have we become? Has humanity stooped this low where the possession of an iPhone is worth more than their neighbors’ life? Or even their own life?!
I sometimes joke rather wryly that if some of these folks behave this way over unimportant material items, I absolutely dread the thought of how they’d behave over a food shortage, God forbid.
Now, let me be clear. It’s okay to purchase gifts for your loved ones this time of year. And there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to get a good bargain. We all do it. Myself included. But how do we react to these material items? How do we approach the heavy marketing of the Christmas shopping craze? Do you buy and desire these items just for the sake of possessing them?
How important is it, really, for us to get that perfect item? Important enough to kill or attack someone? Is the focus of Christmas solely on materialism, or is it about celebrating the birth of our Savior with the people we love the most? Is it about family, peace on earth and goodwill toward man? Or is it about worldliness?
Furthermore, are we buying certain items just for the mere thrill of it? Are some caught up in the whole shopping-craze? Spending and spending, and spiraling us deeper into debt? All too often some of us may find people buying brand new expensive laptops, tablets, and TVs to replace perfectly functional ones at home. Is it emotional spending? Retail therapy? Desire? Greed? Boredom? Whether it’s vying for a Smart TV or an average bath towel on discount (which you can get anywhere, anytime of the year including on the internet) it always seems to me as if some shoppers are unknowingly searching for something far greater than what any of these items could ever give them.
Our Lady has spoken about materialism more than once in her messages. I’ve counted nine so far including the one above. She is well aware of the dangers of materialism; how it can turn into idolatry, blinding us from so many graces and blessings, and draw us farther away from her Son.
She wants our hearts to be open to Jesus, His mercy, grace and love. She wants us to be simple, humble, and detached from the world and its vanities. Everything we could ever need can be found in He Who redeemed us. Jesus loves us so much He gave His life for you and I on the Cross so that we could live united with Him, giving thanks to Him, and living according to His will, not to attack each other over MacBooks and Barbie dolls.
Buying our peace and joy through material items is insanely futile. It’s like playing a losing game. Everything in this world is fleeting. Easy come, easy go. That designer handbag or flatscreen TV cannot give you lasting joy and peace. It could never bring meaning to your life or fulfillment. Eventually those things lose their luster and excitement, becoming no different than anything else you keep around the house. And most of all, we cannot take it with us when our time here comes to an end.
Let’s not forget that our Blessed Lord Himself also warned us about materialism as well:
A man in the crowd said to him, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ He said to him, ‘My friend, who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs.’
Then he told them a parable, ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” So it is when someone stores up treasures for himself, instead of becoming rich in the sight of God.” [Luke 12:13-21]
There’s more to life than how much we can buy. We should be storing our treasures in Heaven; practicing virtue, doing good works that is pleasing to God, loving Him and trusting in Him. And whatever material goods we do have, give thanks to God for them, but remain unattached to them. If we feel we might start to get carried away then stopping and reflecting is in order. Knowing our limits is necessary. Prayer serves as a big help for that.
We live for, and belong to God, not to the world. If we forget this then we will be unable to truly experience Christmas, just as Our Lady said, or even fully be able to experience the joy of life for that matter.
Honestly, if we should be running anywhere, it should be to Jesus in Holy Communion! He is alive, there, in the Holy Eucharist waiting for us! Waiting to give us everything we’ve been searching for! All while in the presence of the Holy Angels!
Out of the nine messages Our Lady gave on materialism, here’s five we could use during the Rosary or for meditation as a way to better prepare us for this Christmas season. Let’s take the words of Jesus and Mary to heart, and use them to help us better focus on the true meaning of this joyous season!
1) September 25, 1993 – “Dear children! I am your Mother and I invite you to come closer to God through prayer because only He is your peace, your savior. Therefore, little children, do not seek comfort in material things, but rather seek God. I am praying for you and I intercede before God for each individual. I am looking for your prayers that you accept me and accept my messages as in the first days of the apparitions and only then when you open your hearts and pray will miracles happen. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
2) April 17, 1986 – “Dear children! You are absorbed with material things, but in the material you lose everything that God wishes to give you. I call you, dear children, to pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are necessary for you now in order to be able to give witness to my presence here and to all that I am giving you. Dear children, let go to me so I can lead you completely. Don’t be absorbed with material things. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
3) November 2, 2009 – “Dear children, Also today I am among you to point you to the way that will help you to come to know God’s love, the love of God Who permitted you to call Him Father and to perceive Him as Father. I ask of you to sincerely look into your hearts and to see how much you love Him. Is He the last to be loved? Surrounded by material goods, how many times have you betrayed, denied and forgotten Him? My children, do not deceive yourselves with wordly goods. Think of your soul because it is more important than the body, cleanse it. Invoke the Father, He is waiting for you. Come back to Him. I am with you because He, in His mercy, sends me. Thank you.”
4) August 25, 2001 – “Dear children! Today I call all of you to decide for holiness. May for you, little children, always in your thoughts and in each situation holiness be in the first place, in work and in speech. In this way, you will also put it into practice; little by little, step by step, prayer and a decision for holiness will enter into your family. Be real with yourselves and do not bind yourselves to material things but to God. And do not forget, little children, that your life is as passing as a flower. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
5) March 25, 1996 – “Dear children! I invite you to decide again to love God above all else. In this time when due to the spirit of consumerism one forgets what it means to love and to cherish true values, I invite you again, little children, to put God in the first place in your life. Do not let Satan attract you through material things but, little children, decide for God who is freedom and love. Choose life and not death of the soul, little children, and in this time when you meditate upon the suffering and death of Jesus I invite you to decide for life which blossomed through the Resurrection, and that your life may be renewed today through conversion that shall lead you to eternal life. Thank you for having responded to my call.”