Friday, November 26, 2010

To Make My Christmas Shopping Reflect a Revolution of the Heart

As Christians prepare for the First Sunday of Advent, we also are heading into the Christmas shopping season. It's important we consider where our dollars are going. My friend Judy and I had the opportunity the other night to attend a Fair Trade Christmas Sale sponsored by the Diocese of Metuchen. The diocese didn't charge a dime to the fledgling entrepreneurs from the Intersect Fund who had set up tables at the fair. Judy and I were both delighted to buy handmade bracelets created by Zakiyia Forbes, (pictured here) the homeschooling mother of two young children. Buying local and supporting fair trade are trendy ideas. And these ideas also have a long, noble history in the Church.

Disclaimer here: most of the food and clothing our family buys comes from big-box stores and national chains. I am prayerfully reconsidering  that and deliberately seeking some alternatives. For Thanksgiving, we bought our pies from a family farm I frequent on my commute home from work. And the wine we served came from a family-owned store in our town. For years, we have tried to nurture an understanding in our sons that Christmas is not about stuff, but about celebrating the birth of Our Savior. Dear readers: How do you shop? Do you have ideas or websites to share?

As we buy gifts for our loved ones, let's consider doing so in a socially conscious manner. Buy gifts that were produced without child or slave labor. Catholic teaching demands we do.

More than a century ago in what many consider the most fruitful and effective principle of industrial justice,  Pope Leo XIII told us: "The chief and most excellent rule for the right use of money is one the heathen philosophers hinted at, but which the Church has traced out clearly, and has not only made known to men's minds, but has impressed upon their lives. It rests on the principle that it is one thing to have a right to the possession of money and another to have a right to use money as one wills."

The St. Vincent Pallotti Center has a wonderful page on their web listing websites you can check out. I love the Dorothy Day quote they include on their website. "The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each of us."

So please, share ideas for shopping in a socially conscious way. How do you shop so that Christ remains the center of the celebration?