To My Family in Haiti Celebrating Christmas

To My Family in Haiti Celebrating Christmas

Oh, how my heart yearns to celebrate Christmas the way my Cercady family does.
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As I sit here preparing for the holidays, I can't help but stop and think about my family I visited in Haiti last summer. I can't help but wonder what their Christmas looks like. Is it anything like mine? My Christmases are filled with visiting family and friends, decorating the tree, hanging lights up, unwrapping presents, and peeking at all the goodies that Santa left in my stocking.

I highly doubt that in Cercady, Haiti, they celebrate Christmas with trees, Christmas lights, holiday parties, presents, and hoping that Santa will come sliding down their chimney. I really do not know how they celebrate their Christmas, but at times I wish my Christmas looked like theirs. I like to think that the meaning of Christmas has not become lost in translation, but looking at the world today, it has. The world needs to adjust its view of Christmas and learn where the importance lies, not on tangible gifts, but on the great gift above.

Instead of a Christmas tree, they might look to the wooden cross like the one that Christ was nailed to. Instead of Christmas lights, they look to the Light that shines upon them and protects them day to day. Instead of hoping that Santa will come down the chimney and fill their houses with presents, they wait for the coming of Christ. Instead of holiday parties, they have celebrations and delight in the Lord and Savior. Instead of any Christmas desserts, they are filled with the bread of Christ. Instead of holiday cocktails and wine, they remember his blood and drink from their cup to honor him. Instead of presents wrapped with elaborate wrapping paper, they are reminded that the greatest gift was the one that came from a manger. Instead of Christmas carols and holiday songs, they shout from the mountaintop praises of our Savior. Instead of Christmas wish lists, they write lists of prayers, delights, and struggles. Instead of dreaming of gifts that parish and one day rust away, they dream of the gift that lasts an eternity.

My Christmas looks very different to the Christmases that are celebrated across the world. Often times, I wish that my Christmas looked a little simpler like the way Christmas looks in Haiti. I wish that the world could see how different and special Christmas is the way my family in Haiti sees Christmas.

Luke 2: 9-14 of the NIV "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praying God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven an on earth peace to those whom his favor rests."

Cover Image Credit: Bert Parker

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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5 Reasons Jesuit Teachings Apply To Your Life

How we can all apply Jesuit values to the modern world.

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Oh, the acclaimed Jesuits. The Catholic order renowned for their emphasis on education and their attention to social justice. Jesuits (or the Society of Jesus), however, also promote specific values that are applicable in the changing times we live in. After four years at a Jesuit high school, I took away these lessons from what I learned in the Jesuit tradition.

1. Discernment

It is so necessary for everyone - children, teens, and adults - to have a solid foundation for a decision-making process. Today, we are faced with more choices than ever and can become so caught up in the short-term results that we lose sight of important factors along the way. The Jesuit value of discernment aims to take into consideration each possibility and to truly reflect on each option as honestly as possible. This decision-making process of recognizing and reflecting is an essential step that not only advocates for Ignatian spirituality, but also for a healthier mindset.

2. Finding God in all things

Often, we become so lost in our media-centered world that we disregard the good that is all around us. In the United States, it is so divided that, many times, it is difficult to see any good in others who disagree with us, but it is so crucial to recognize the need for love in every community. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, we can take this value and use it to remind ourselves to always acknowledge this necessity. To even attempt to find God in all things can go a long way in solving issues that plague our society today.

3. Magis

"More." To be magis is to be above the status quo - which may be hard, especially for young people in the social media age we are in, however it is so heavily pushed in the Jesuit tradition because it is a call to not only be more, but to love more. It is so easy to find fault with others, but the Jesuit idea of magis pushes for us to look past our differences and reflect on our own need for love. We must keep in mind this mission to love more in all that we do.

4. Cura personalis

"Care for the Whole Person." In the society we live in, we often forget to keep in mind our need for health - and not just physical. We forget that our mental, emotional, and spiritual health are just as important. In our social media and political-focused society, it is important to remember that we must, first and foremost, take into consideration our personal health in mind, body, and spirit in order to fully engage in our world.

5. Men and women with and for others

Most, if not all, organized religions strive for this concept: serving the less fortunate. The way Jesuits differ in this ideal is that even though we are called to serve those who are less fortunate and give to those who need it, we are also called, at the same time, to stand with these people in their struggles. And while many religious orders present this common theme of solidarity, Jesuits make it a point that it is not enough to give to charity and look at "the poor" as people to throw money and volunteering time at, it is imperative that, by standing with these groups, we reflect on our own lives and how we can fix social structures to make life better for everyone.

"Go forth and set the world on fire." - St. Ignatius of Loyola

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