Angels for Christmas

Editing a Christmas contest

How many angels can dance on the page of a website?

If you look at The Compass’ website this Christmas, you will see lots of angels dancing on our annual Just for Kids Christmas challenge for children.

This is the 28th year that I have had the pleasure of handling the annual Christmas contest for students in elementary schools (and now middle schools) around the diocese. The contest was, for many years, an essay contest. Last year, we added a call for artwork as well.

And this year, The Compass paired with World Mission Services of the Green Bay Diocese to include “Just for Kids’ art entries in the Missionary Childhood Association’s (MCA) National Christmas Card contest. The 11 artwork winners from The Compass will be forwarded as entries to the national contest. We had many wonderful entries, and judges from other departments in the diocesan curia chose 11 winners to send on to Washington. So we hope that at least one of them will be recognized nationally as well. As they say, “Stay tuned.”

What do you imagine about the angels at Bethlehem? Do you ever envision the Archangel Gabriel among them?

I can’t say that I know how I would draw an angel. All the images we are familiar with only symbolize the angelic nature, since angels are pure spirit. Certainly angels are beautiful, since they look upon God. Certainly wings in art represent how quickly angels can execute any command from God. The gold haloes represent the shining splendor of heaven.

Our young artists drew Gabriel as brightly dressed, with wings of glitter or colors ranging from yellow to silver to multi-colored. The great angel shone like a star in many pictures, and even seemed like fire in others.

The essay writers envisioned Gabriel announcing the Good News to shepherds and townspeople and even the sheep themselves. Gabriel praised the baby, praised Mary and Joseph, offered advice to the new infant, such as third grader Caleb Derenne: “You will suffer but you will rise on the third day and before that you die on the cross.” Second grade student Gage Bartel has Gabriel assuring Jesus, “You will be a nice man.”

And another second grader, Max Jablonski, told Mary, “you need some rest.”

I’ve been writing for many years now and I have learned that there is always a new perspective to what we might think are stories that we now inside and out. This is true with the Christmas story, especially when it’s told from the perspective of children.

I hope you get a chance, over the holiday, to read the essays and enjoy the slideshow of the artworks.

Merry Christmas!

About Patricia Kasten

Kasten is the author of “Linking Your Beads, The Rosary’s History, Mysteries and Prayers,” published by Our Sunday Visitor Press.  Her newest book, on sainthood – “Making Sense of Saints. Fascinating Facts about Relics, Patrons, Saint-Making and More“, was published by OSV in Spring 2014.  She is also a puzzle-smith. Her weekly Scripture Search puzzle (see The Compass) and bi-weekly The Cross Word, both based on the Sunday readings, appear in Catholic newspapers and parish bulletins around the country.