The Institute for Christian Formation
The Evangelizing “Presents”:
Sharing the “Gift” of Faith
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Gift-giving opportunities are scattered throughout the year.  Some are connected with the liturgical year, such as Christmas and Easter.  Others are more “personal”, such as birthdays and anniversaries.  Some are more in tune with the greeting card industry, such as Boss's Day or Administrative Professionals’ Week.  And of course we can always give a gift just because we want to do so, with no special occasion attached.
So the next time you are faced with purchasing a gift, think in terms of “gifts” of faith!  While Cathy and Andrew might receive four toasters for their wedding, chances are you will be the only one giving them icons of Saint Catherine and Saint Andrew!  See how easy it is to be an evangelist?
An icon makes a lovely gift.  For a wedding, consider two icons – one each for the patron saint of the bride and groom.  If it happens neither has a name derived from a saint’s name, then you might consider an icon of the Wedding Feast at Cana or the Holy Family.  The same idea applies to choosing an icon for a birth, baptism, First Communion, confirmation, or ordination.  Are you going to a baby shower?  If you don’t know the name of the child, or it is not a saint’s name, a Guardian Angel icon is a good choice.  If you have many gifts to purchase, you could choose an icon holy card and/or greeting card, and include a lovely personal note.  There are many sources for icons, such as Bridge Building Images, Monastery Icons, Printery House, Orthodox Byzantine Icons/St.
Fostering prayer in the home is a wonderful way to share faith!  There are several wonderful gifts that also become keepsakes/heirlooms that would be appropriate for most any gift-giving occasion, especially the celebration of sacraments and milestones such as high school or college graduation.  Below are a few suggestions from The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Franciscan Media.  Again, just click on the image to access more information about the item and how to place an order.
Holy Family Icon
Annunciation of the BVM Parish
Cincinnati, Ohio
Isaac of Syria Skete, and Liette's Prayer Icons.  Some sites sell holy cards and greeting cards, in addition to mounted icons, and some even offer the opportunity to send a free icon e-mail greeting through their site.  This is a great way to celebrate feast days and special occasions of multiple friends and relatives without “breaking the bank.”

Children and teens will also enjoy a good book about the Saints and Christian Heroes.  There are many to choose from, including the following from Loyola Press and The Liturgical Press. Just click on the image for more information about the book and how to order it.
Each time we choose to give a gift, we are faced with selecting a gift.  Perhaps we might make a gift for someone.  Other times we select a gift for someone because we know their likes and hobbies.  Perhaps we know there is an item someone needs, so we purchase that item for him/her.  And at times the intended recipient does most of the work for us by registering for items at a gift registry.

In our life of faith, at times our gift-giving is directly linked to a sacramental moment: baptism, First Communion, confirmation, wedding, ordination, or a feast day celebration.  Or perhaps the gift is for a different type of milestone such as a graduation. 

As baptized Christians, we are called to share our faith with others.  This is what evangelization is all about.  And today there is much talk about the “New Evangelization,” and awakening once again the fervor for our faith that may have dwindled amongst some of the baptized in our secular culture.  Many times we become nervous when we think that we are called to evangelize, as we have a picture in our mind of what this might mean.  But what if an evangelizing “presence” included something as simple as evangelizing “presents”?  What if sharing our gift of faith began with sharing a faith-based gift?

Recently someone asked a group of second graders about their First Communion.  A common first response from the children centered on the amount of money each had received for his/her First Communion and a comparison as to who had received the greatest dollar total.  This is a sad commentary on a milestone in our faith life, but not an unusual one. 

The next time you need to choose a gift for an occasion such as a sacramental celebration, a holiday, birthday, graduation, etc., consider the possibility of a faith-based gift.  While Bibles and rosaries are popular choices, here are a few other suggestions as well.