They say that stuff like this only happens in the movies. I will confess it felt like I was in a Walton’s Christmas Story, but this is very real. I am that father in this Christmas Story.
If you have followed my crying, woe is me blogs, you know that I am truly learning to know what it means to place my faith, my whole trust in Jesus Christ. This is something that has been taught since my childhood in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and during my time at Holmes College of the Bible in Greenville, SC, where the training was stressed to place your trust in Jesus.
“Living by faith in Jesus above,
trust and confiding in His great love.
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms.
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.”
To be honest, I am a spoiled brat, which is why I love St. Therese of Lisieux. The only difference is that her crisis moment of understanding that she must live by faith in King Jesus was far sooner according to her age than my crisis moment of understanding faith in Jesus. By the way, another thing that St. Therese and I have in common is that we want to spread the Gospel of Jesus to the masses, maybe in different formats. Her desire to be a missionary. My desire is more as an evangelist in Christian Entertainment.
Now back to my “Christmas Story”….
As a father who is doing his best to build a Christian Entertainment non-profit Corporation, you understand I have no money to buy my 13 year old son a Christmas present. I was at my wit’s end. No money coming in, no support for PDCP, you, fathers who have been in similar situations, you know what I am feeling.
It was like a light bulb that went off into my head. When I find myself in this type of frustration, and not to go into a long added story, which is why I almost had a nervous breakdown during Communion at my parish this past, Sunday, I got into my car and drove to Kingstree, for two reasons. The very first and far most important reason is always to pray at the Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope, South Carolina. The second reason was to visit my new brother in Christ and his family, a master carpenter, Patrick Campbell.
I was thinking of all the past gifts that I was able to lavish upon my son over the years. By now at his age, he should understand the true meaning of Christmas. So, the gift that I was thinking was that of a small heart shape piece with a Benedictine Medal in the center. A nice piece that does not cost too much. When I got to Kingstree, and to Patrick’s home, he and his wife, Joy, were out helping St. Nickolas get the needed items for a special elf at home with his two much older brothers. Though I was invited to stay for awhile, I declined and went to McDonald’s to get a sandwich and drink, and go spend time with Mother Mary at the Shrine in prayer.
As time past, and I have concluded my visit with Mother Mary, I returned to Patrick’s home. The sons were there but Patrick and Joy were still receiving gifts from St. Nick, must have been a lot. So, I spent my time on the porch in a rocking chair talking to the sons. Tallon who is the oldest, 17, showed me the latest Benedictine Crucifix project. It was huge, and awesome. Just by listening to Tallon and watching at how delicate he was holding the Benedictine Crucifix, you knew without a shadow of a doubt, he is a proud young man being able to work with his father in a Benedictine Wood Shop.
Since, time was marching on, and I was determined not to leave until I spoke to Patrick, well, remember I am a father stressed out over a gift for his son, Tallon suggested to try to call his father. He could be in an area to receive calls. I did, and of course Patrick was glad that I was at his new home, but sorry for the timing. Of course, being the unannounced, and uninvited guest, I apologized and went through the father’s need for a gift for his son. Patrick understanding the situation assured me not to worry, however what I was hoping for which I knew was at a much lower price, the hearts were at his old home he is moving from. He told Tallon to go pull out Benedictine Crosses and allow me to choose. When I entered the home and saw the display, I was at awe, and disbelief.
Because my son is not Catholic and there is concern about him excepting a Crucifix, Tallon had this beautiful Benedictine Christmas Cross in the front. I was riveted to the Christmas Cross. What happened next took me by total shock and surprise. Before Tallon handed me the Christmas Cross, he had a small metal cross in his hand touching the Christmas Cross and praying over it. I knew he was asking Jesus to bless the Cross. Now, what I learned next is awesome.
The small metal cross that Tallon held in his hand had a glass case in the center of the cross, and in that glass case was a splinter of wood. Tallon shared with me how this relic came into the possession of the Campbells, which I believe it is because of Patrick being a master carpenter, and the type of ministry he is doing. That relic is a splinter of wood from St. Helen’s Cross of Jesus. For those who understand the story of who St. Helen is and how she was responsible for the finding of the Cross of Jesus, will understand my feelings of great awe, wonderment, and respect.
After receiving the Christmas Cross from Tallon, I returned home. The following day, I went to my parish hoping that one of the priests were present there. Father J P was present, and he blessed the Christmas Cross.
Still worried about my son’s reactions in receiving such an awesome gift that is highly meaningful, and is the ultimate reason for Jesus’ First Advent, I was skeptical about giving this gift to my son. I prayed, yes, and could have just left it at that, but no, I had to go a step further. I texted my former wife, the mother of our son, and explained about the gift, adding that if he is disappointed in anyway, and there is any type of resentment, return the Christmas Cross back to me. That was Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Day, after I attended Christmas Mass, I went to see my son, and he was waiting for me outside on a warm Christmas day. He spotted me driving up, ran to me and greeted me with a hug when I got out of the car. I had his Christmas Gift in my hands. Patiently, just like many of you who have read this far, my son listened to me as I told him the story of this Benedictine Christmas Cross. I held onto it so long that he asked, “can I have it?” I handed my son the Christmas Cross, still worried, but later to learn from his mother that he placed the Christmas Cross in a special place on the wall in his room. A Christmas season that will be etched forever in our hearts.
And who says that only things like this happens in the movies?