Column: Beware: Only 41 shopping days till Christmas

Mark my words
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

A few months ago as I was signing a baptismal certificate, the proud mom remarked, “Gee, I haven’t seen one of those in years!”

She was referring to my pen. No, it wasn’t a fancy Mont Blanc. Rather, it’s a type of writing instrument that I’ve cherished since I was a kid, because the pen has four colors in it to choose from: black, blue, red and green. Although I started out using one made by Bic, I’ve now switched to the Paper Mate InkJoy Quatro retractable medium point advanced ink pen. Sounds pretty impressive for something that costs just $3.11.

I’ve always been fascinated by things that have multiple uses: one pen, but four colors! Perhaps that’s why at this time of year — with just 41 shopping days until Christmas — my attention is on buying things that produce multiple results.

Let me explain: A couple of months ago, I was in Sam’s Club. One of the things on my shopping list was liquid hand soap. As I reached for my usual brand, a box containing three dispensers caught my eye. On the top of the box were the words: soap=hope. Its front said: This purchase donates 3 bars of soap to a person in need. Wow. Not only was the soap reasonably priced, I was thrilled that it did double duty and supported the needy as well.

The soaps — which have great names like açaí berry, coconut oil and argan oil — come from an organization in Alexandria, Virginia, called SoapBox, whose mission is “to empower customers to change the world through everyday, quality purchases.” On each of the containers of liquid soap was a “Hope Code,” which, when typed into the website, told me exactly where my donated bars of soap were going: One went to India; another to global emergency relief; and the last to Baltimore. It was a win-win situation.

Let’s face it: There’s always going to be pressure at the holidays to buy, buy, buy. And most of us are going to give into it. But what if our purchases could do double duty? What if they could not only make the recipient happy, but also support a worthwhile organization?

Many Catholic religious orders support themselves by offering products for sale. For example, for over 30 years now, I’ve made it a point to buy my Christmas cards from The Printery House, which helps the Benedictine monks of Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri. But they don’t just sell beautiful cards. In my last order, I added some of their Abbey Oven granola (orchard blend and honey nut blend). Take it from me — please — it’s too tasty! They also offer scented soaps, “infused with a bit of Holy Water and a prayer,” handmade by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri. And it doesn’t stop there: The catalog is filled with everything from Advent wreaths and faith-filled ornaments to jewelry and statues. You can check out their products online at: www.printeryhouse.org, or call 1 (800) 322-2737 for a catalog.

If you’re hungry for peanut brittle, our own Benedictine monks in Atchison can fix you up with some. Judging from the tins that we’ve had over the years here at The Leaven, it should come with a warning that reads: “Absolutely delicious and highly addictive.” But Benedict’s Brittle is just one product; the abbey’s website — www.kansasmonks.org — also offers books, music, calendars and rosaries.

A great one-stop place to see the incredibly wide selection of products offered by religious orders is found online at: www.monasterygreetings.com. You’re probably aware that some religious orders sell fruitcakes, coffee or preserves. But I’ll bet you didn’t know they also offer balsamic vinegar, mustards, hot sauces and marinades. Other religious orders tempt your sweet tooth with truffles, caramel, fudge, pralines and a “butter nut munch.” (Who knows? They may also pray that the caloric content of these treats is reduced.)

One religious order produces natural dog treats; another, cookie stamps. You can also find mugs, candles, blankets, aprons and even popcorn. In fact, the website boasts 1,567 products. That should certainly cover everyone on your gift list. Request a printed copy of the catalog online or call 1 (800) 472-0425

And don’t forget that subscriptions to Catholic publications — like America magazine, U.S. Catholic, Catholic Digest, Liguorian or the St. Anthony Messenger — can deepen someone’s understanding of the faith. You can even give a gift subscription to The Leaven to someone who lives outside the archdiocese but likes to keep up with happenings here at home. There are also excellent monthly prayer resources like Give Us This Day or Magnificat that will enrich a recipient’s prayer life all through the year.

Holy cow, with so many excellent products from these religious orders, I bet I use up all four inks in my favorite pen, just filling out my gift list!

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