A joyfully Franciscan view of Catholic life, inspired by St. Clare (Santa Chiara) of Assisi!

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Chiara Offreduccio (St. Clare) was born in 1194. It is said that when her mother had Chiara in her womb, an angel appeared to her and said, "your child will be a light that will illuminate the world!" Hence, her mother named the child Chiara, which means "light. As G.K. Chesterton put it, St. Clare was a romantic figure just like Juliet was. However, instead of running away from her family in order to be with an earthly man, Clare gave up everything and ran away from her family for the love of her Savior!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kristkindl: An Advent Tradition

My friend Lucy is organizing an "e-Kristkindl" for me and a group of my friends. Lucy is an expert on Catholic family traditions that celebrate different parts of the Catholic year. This particular tradition of "Kristkindl" was recorded by a woman close to my own heart, Maria von Trapp (the real one...not Julie Andrews). Below is Maria's description of the "Kristkindl" tradition:

"And then comes another exciting moment. Once more the mother appears with the bowl, which she passes around. This time the pieces contain the names of the members of the family and are neatly rolled up, because the drawing has to be done in great secrecy. The person whose name one has drawn is now in one's special care. From this day until Christmas, one has to do as many little favors for him or her as one can... without being caught. This creates a wonderful atmosphere of joyful suspense, kindness, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps you will find someone has made your bed or shined your shoes or has informed you in a disguised writing on a holy card, that "A rosary has been said for you today" or a number of sacrifices have been offered up. This new relationship is called the Kristkindl [Christ child] in the old country, where children believe that the Christmas tree and gifts under it are brought down by the Christ Child Himself.

The beautiful thing about this particular custom is that the relationship is a reciprocal one. The person whose name I have drawn and who is under my care becomes for me the helpless little Christ Child in the manger; and as I am performing these many little acts of love & consideration for someone in the family, I am really doing them for the Infant of Bethlehem, according to the word that 'And he that shall recieve one such little child in my name, recieveth me.' At the same time, I am the Kristkindl also for the one I am caring for, because I want to imitate the Holy Child and render all those little services in the same spirit as He did in the small house of Nazareth, when as a child, He served His Mother and His foster father with a similar love and devotion." [Around the Year with the Trapp Family, p 27-28]."

This is a beautiful tradition for all Catholics, whether they be members of a family, a monastery, or an e-community!


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