It’s the gift-giving season! As Christmas approaches, we’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy for loved ones, friends and coworkers. But sometimes, throwing money at the latest tech gadget, toy or fashion trend can seem a little hollow and meaningless.
Why not combine your faith with gift buying this year and consider some ways to share the true meaning of the season — the birth of Christ — with those you care about?
Give gifts for the soul
Instead of wracking your brain for gift ideas, consider shopping for spiritual presents that will help strengthen faith, offer encouragement during difficult times, or just bring a smile for God’s love.
Pauline Books & Media
243 King Street, Charleston
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday
A good place to browse is Pauline Books & Media. Run by the Daughters of St. Paul, the store is full of gift ideas such as books, CDs and DVDs for adults and children, plus a wide selection of other religious presents.
Sister Margaret Kerry of the Daughters of St. Paul said one particularly popular book this Christmas season is “Jesus Speaking: Heart to Heart with the King”, written by Gabrielle Bossis. The daily devotional offers readers Scripture verses and spiritual exercises to help form a deeper relationship with Christ.
Sister Margaret also recommends “Brother John: A Monk, A Pilgrim and the Purpose of Life”, by August Turak. It is the story of the author’s Christmas Eve encounter with a Trappist monk who taught him how to live a Christ-filled, purposeful life.
St. Francis Catholic Shop
Open Tuesday through Saturday
803-561-9733 | www.stfrancisshop.com
St. Francis Catholic Shop in Columbia is another place to look for all things Catholic, including books, CDs, Bibles, study guides, statues, crucifixes, T-shirts, medals, and rosaries.
Parish gift shops
Churches with gift shops include St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach, Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach, St. Michael in Murrells Inlet, and St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken.
Shoppers can also find religious items at parish gift shops, which offer everything from books and artwork to holy cards and special gifts for children. They are usually open after Masses on weekends and sometimes on other days of the week.
1093 Mepkin Abbey Road, Moncks Corner
Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-3 p.m. Sunday
Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner is South Carolina’s only Trappist monastery. It offers a wonderful haven for retreat and spiritual reflection, and also a one-of-a-kind shop with a wide variety of books, religious objects, food and handcrafted gifts. Shoppers can also purchase dried and powdered mushrooms that are cultivated by the monks as a way of supporting themselves.
Reach out to others
Another way to give is to set aside part of your gifting budget to help organizations that serve people in need around the state and world. Consider making your donation in honor of a friend or loved one.
Donations can help this agency provide assistance to those in need around the country through Catholic Charities USA, www.catholiccharitiesusa.org. In South Carolina, your gift can help Catholic Charities run a wide variety of programs including food pantries, clothing closets, immigration services, disaster relief, and Clean of Heart, which offers laundry services for the homeless.
Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services helps poor and vulnerable people in more than 100 countries. The agency’s array of programs includes disaster relief, assistance for refugees and victims of human trafficking, helping mothers and children get health care, and teaching farmers new ways of growing crops. People can make a donation directly at www.crs.org. To purchase a gift item that also promotes ethical trade and helps small businesses around the world, visit https://ethicaltrade.crs.org and shop their selection of jewelry, home decor, chocolate, coffee, tea, and other items.
Sponsor a child
International Ministries of the Diocese of Charleston offers the opportunity to sponsor a child through Project San Pedro, which helps children in Guatemala receive nutrition, medical care, clothing and education. Learn more at www.missions-doc.org.
Cross Catholic Outreach
Cross Catholic Outreach is a relief and development ministry that provides food, shelter, medical supplies and treatment, care for orphans, self-help programs, and other assistance for the poor around the world. Read about the many programs available.
Food for the Poor
Food for the Poor is an interdenominational Christian ministry that serves those living in poverty in 17 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America by offering assistance with food, housing, fresh water, health care and other needs.