By Sedonna Prater, Director, Curriculum and Instruction for the Knoxville Diocese Catholic Schools
As we enter the holiday season, we enter into a period of expectancy, longing, and preparation. This season is a journey of faith and hope that asks for our patience, as we await the arrival of that which we so dearly long for: The Christ child, the arrival of the lamp oil, the purification of the temple, or just that one morning where family members, once scattered to the four corners can all be together, sharing in the warmth of their love for one another.
To children, this waiting can seem impossible. And for us adults, sometimes we forget to wait, because we are so focused on the many tasks that must be done along the way, but an important lesson for the season is the value of patience. Pope St. Gregory in the sixth century stated that “patience is the root and guardian of all the virtues.” St. Francis de Sales also commented on the virtue of patience when he said that “the virtue of patience is the one which most assures us of perfection.”
Patience is not a virtue easily embraced in our culture. So, taking a little time to recall the virtue of patience allows us to slow down a bit, creating that space that allows us to acknowledge and cherish the simple things we might otherwise overlook. This, requires us to quiet our souls and still ourselves. It requires us to garner our faith and remain steadfast in the quiet, calm of hope. St. Therese of Lisieux stated, “I am a very little soul, who can offer only little things to our Lord.” Through her genuine humility, she reminds us even the simplest actions can be a great act that brings glory to God and infinite joy to our hearts.
The virtue of patience is the one which most assures us of perfection. -St. Francis de Sales
I don’t remember all the Christmas presents through the years, even the ones that were so important on my list, but my recollections of family meals, Christmas gatherings, and time spent with family are precious and irreplaceable. My fondest memories of Christmas holidays are those times sitting in the warmth of the iron stove fire in my grandparents living room with all my family, cousins, aunts, and uncles sitting around. My grandmother always hid Christmas ribbon candy. I remember thinking it was so special to get that candy, because it was Christmas candy. My grandfather was a fabulous storyteller and musician, and I recall the stories shared in that familiar scene. When the moment was right, the banjos and guitars were brought out. My grandfather and my uncles would lead us all in songs late into the night. Like most of the females in my family, I cannot carry a tune, but I sure do love to dance. The chairs would be moved back, and we would transform that small living room into a magnificent dancing hall.
This holiday season, take time to enjoy those precious moments (some perhaps quite small and simple) with loved ones, friends and those precious little ones; Remember that time marches on for them too! While gifts may fade or be forgotten, the virtue of patience can help us to pay attention to those moments spent with loved ones. These moments will become lifelong and cherished memories.
Sedonna Prater is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Diocese of Knoxville Catholic Schools. Mrs. Prater joined Sacred Heart Cathedral School as principal in 2004. She began at SHCS as an eighth-grade teacher in 1997, moving to vice principal in 1999 and serving in that role through 2003. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Tennessee.