Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of Catie’s followers,

As I sat in church this morning the memories of last Christmas Eve came flooding back.  Last year at this time we were putting the finishing touches on packing 8 people including one in a wheelchair and scrambling to get to the airport so that we could make our way to South Carolina for my dad’s 80th birthday.  I can remember Catie calling poppy and asking, “can we come and celebrate your birthday because I am not going to be here for mine?’  She was right, however what we were able to experience in the last 31 days of Catie’s life is a testament to your love, support and prayers as well as God’s amazing grace.  A year ago today began the odyssey of Catie’s 2 First Communions on the 25th and 28th with a wonderfully exciting 5am arrival home on the morning of the 28th after a 7 hour drive through the fog when our flight home was cancelled.  I can remember that night in the airport as Catie looked at Christine and me and asked us to please not cancel the Communion and party and our immediate decision to do whatever Catie asked of us.  We all say “no” to our kids and most times there are compelling reasons for our negative response.  As I look back on Catie’s last month, what I remember most are the times when we said “yes” to her and how thankful I am that we did.  I also realize what a blessing it is to be Christine’s husband and to be on the same page in our parenting.

A dear friend met us at church this morning and the kids all hugged and squeezed him as they always do and I again thought back to last Christmas Eve when as we were walking to communion he asked if he could carry Catie.  I was pleasantly surprised when Catie said yes to him and allowed him to carry her, it was not a privilege Catie extended to anyone except Christine and myself, (and sometimes not even me).  As he approached the altar he asked the priest to bless Catie and at first, the priest refused, it is just not something he normally does.  Dom, Catie, and the Holy Spirit prevailed however and Father extended his hands and blessed her, preparing her for her journey and for her First Communion the next day.  Today, I know that Catie was in that church with our family, with Dom, and with that same priest and extended a blessing to all of us to prepare us for whatever comes our way today.

This afternoon, we will go to mass again and celebrate with our parish family at St. Joseph’s the birth of Jesus.  Mia and Maggie will be in the choir loft singing their hearts out and I will again be blessed to be holding the hand of the woman that I was created to love.  We will remember poppy and hope that his birthday is all that he could hope it to be, we will remember Catie and hope to be open enough to feel her presence, and we will remember that over 2000 years ago a child was born to a loving and selfless couple who simply and consistently said yes to God’s plan for their lives.  Whatever your faith, the Christmas story is both timeless and compelling.  It is a story of choices and that is why it resonates in all of us because our lives are all about choices as well.  When God blessed us with free will, He allowed us to have a hand in determining not only what our life would be like here on earth, but where and how we would spend eternity.  That same free will that we possess was shared by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  Mary could have said no to Gabriel and God instead of yes, Joseph could have said no as well.  And what about Jesus?  Can you imagine when God laid out the plan to Jesus; 1.leave heaven and go to earth as a single cell.  2.grow inside Mary’s womb for 9 months and then be born in a stable.  3.leave home in the middle of the night and flee to a foreign land and live in hiding.  4.return home years later and grow up as the only boy your age because all of the other boys were slaughtered.  5.become a carpenter like your father.  6.become an itinerant preacher who is so beloved by the crowds that they want to make you a king.  7.become such a threat to the establishment that you are tortured and killed almost all of those that you shepherded abandon you.  Who could have blamed Jesus if He said “no, I think I’ll just stay here in heaven.”  Thank God that He made the choice that He did.  That is what I will be celebrating beginning this afternoon.  This Christmas, I will be concentrating to hear all of the little messages of choices where people said yes to God and His plan.  Hopefully the more I hear the more I will be able to follow their example and do the same in my life.

That is also what Catie taught me in her last month, consistently responding affirmatively to God’s will.  My father taught me that as well and I am proud to be his son.  For 81 years, he has been an example of acceptance.  I have never known him to worry, I am sure he believes that God has cared for him for 81 years and has a good track record, no reason to start second guessing God now.  For me, trusting in God’s plan is easy at times and downright impossible at others; but again, it is a choice.  My prayer for all of us this year is that Christmas sparks a renewal of absolute trust and surrender to God’s plan for our lives.  May this Christmas season be filled with countless blessings and numberless opportunities to say yes to God and yes to one another.

May you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas and if you are traveling, please travel safely,

Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Mia, Molly, M.E., and always Catie

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