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Patrick O’Shea: Gifts to grow faith without breaking the bank

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The Adoration of the Magi is depicted in this 17th-century painting by French artist Claude Vignon. Photo: CNS/Bridgeman Images
The Adoration of the Magi is depicted in this 17th-century painting by French artist Claude Vignon. Photo: CNS/Bridgeman Images

It’s that time of the year again when we’re called to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. But in our fast-paced, consumerist culture, we need to prepare our gifts for our loved ones well ahead of time.

Many Catholics are trying to buck the culture trends and focus more on faith and family over the Christmas season. Finding that delicate balance can be difficult while scavenging the ideal gift. Perhaps these ideas can point you in the right direction:

Alcohol: while not for the kids, it can serve as an entry point to discuss medieval monastic traditions. Is your recipient a fan of liqueurs? Perhaps you can sit down with them over their newly opened bottle of Frangelico (Dan Murphy’s, $37.75). It even comes with its own cincture. It doesn’t get more Franciscan than that.

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Want to share something that they can enjoy over a summer barbecue? You can always offer them Trappist beer from the monasteries of Belgium such as Leffe ($24.99/4 pack) and Netherlands such as La Trappe ($28.99/4 pack). Just remember to always drink in moderation.

Mantilla: Veiling in Church has undergone a resurgence in recent years. Maybe it’s time to put a mantilla into your online cart? If you have a woman in your life who is considering veiling during Mass, there’s always Sydney supplier Filia Dei Veils ($50-100).

Board games: Anyone with a large family or who is keen to have a group of friends around can enjoy this suggestion. Be it Settlers of Catan (Games Paradise, $55), or Monopoly ($35) a board game could be a good option to bring family and friends together over the Christmas break.

Rosary: If you have a friend who is still timid about their faith, or a non-Catholic friend who is curious about our devotions, a pair of rosary beads could go a long way. Maybe your significant other would prefer a rosary bracelet (Mustard Seed Bookshop, $8.95) so she can pray on the run, or a Beaded Armour rosary to use when he attends the men’s rosary at the Cathedral. These, or a piece of Catholic jewellery (medallion, necklace, etc.) could make for a memorable gift.

Books: I’m a fan of Baronius Press. Their hardcover, sometimes leatherbound, books are amazing quality (eg. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma,, $150) and their range are the great classics of spiritual reading. Maybe you’re a fan of Tan Classics—they’ve got a fantastic collection too (eg. their 12-book set of Catholic classics, $300 from St Paul’s books).

Or, if you’re after something more for some casual reading, have they read any of JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis’ works? Many have seen the movies but fewer, especially these days, have read the books. This Christmas break might just be the time to step through the wardrobe into Narnia (Mustard Seed bookshop, $45), or sit down with Bilbo, Gandalf, and Balin and enjoy a tea while reminiscing over the journey to and from the Lonely Mountain (The Hobbit hardcover 75 anniversary edition, $45.)

Statues: I have too many holy images at home and I don’t have the wall space to hang them all. Statues, on the other hand, can be placed on a bookshelf and admired from a distance, or placed on your home altar for private devotion. If your family or friends have patron saints that they don’t have a statue of, Christmas is a good opportunity to help deepen their devotion (Church Stores in the Dymocks building in the CBD have quite the selection). It’s the perfect gift for the devoted and lukewarm alike.

Christmas is a time about coming together in fraternity and as a family. Let’s take the chance to revel in each other’s company with food, drink, and, above all, love of the newborn Lord.

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