It’s that time of year again. The cultural observance of Christmas gets earlier and earlier. Already, even before Thanksgiving, we see the holiday decorations, hear the seasonal songs, and are confronted with the marketing promotions and the reminders to shop until we drop. And so, this is our cultural Christmas.

As believers, however, our observance is much different for higher reasons. For we Christians, this is the time to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus. We have a preparatory season of Advent to mark and then, when the time is right, we are celebrating the glorious birth of the eternal Son of God as a human being like us. It is a celebration of love. It is the beginning of our salvation.

With this in mind, we need to come to greater realizations about our faith. We need to look at the figurines or the decorations we place around our home and seek to better understand them. In contrast to the cultural Christmas around us, we have a deep and rich spiritual treasure in Jesus Christ.

From the richness of Jesus Christ, the Church has her own immense culture. It is a culture that reflects many lands and peoples, customs and traditions. Its resources are abundant and overflowing. It’s our task as believers to dive into this ecclesial culture and allow its spiritual wealth to bear fruit in our lives and in our homes.

In the early Church, many of the great teachers of our faith were concerned that Christian parents were still teaching their children the myths of Greece and Rome. They challenged parents to abandon such myths and to creatively tell their children the stories of salvation history.

Saint John Chrysostom teaches parents: “Do not say, the Bible is for monks; am I turning my child into a monk? No! It is not necessary for him to be a monk. Make him into a Christian! Why are you afraid of something so good? It is necessary for everyone to know Scriptural teachings, and this is especially true for children.” The saint continues by giving examples of how to teach biblical stories to children. He describes a type of method now called composition of place, where a child uses their imagination to place themselves in a biblical scene and realize its significance.

While we may not struggle with Greek and Roman myths today, we do have to compete with Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, and many other cultural myths of the season. It is disconcerting when a Christian child knows all of Santa’s reindeer by name, but does not know the importance of Bethlehem, the Tribe of Judah, King David, the Archangel Gabriel, and other parts of the biblical account of Christmas.

As a response, we need to heed again the words of the early teachers of our faith. In contrast to the cultural onslaught of secular myths, we Christians need to tell the sacred narrative. In particular, we need to tell the narrative to children.

One contemporary example of such an effort is the book, The Wise Men Who Found Christmas. In addition to its colorful and bright illustrations, the book creatively retells the story of the Magi coming to find and adore the Christ Child.

Author Raymond Arroyo states that he does not write “children’s book,” but rather books for parents and families. The story is meant to help parents in the task of sharing the faith and the biblical accounts of God’s words and deeds among us.

The value of good stories is their ability to reach people where they are and lift them to the heights of where they are called to be. The story of the Magi, as retold by The Wise Men Who Found Christmas, helps us to ask about our own journey of faith. Where are we with the Lord and where are we called to be?

The book is meant to excite families and pull them into the amazing adventure of the Magi and root them in its reality. It’s an invitation to follow the lead of the Magi and to initiate our own deeper search for the Lord.

Such a book is only one example of the work that’s before us. If we do not share the sacred stories of our faith, no one else will. If we do not make great strides to engage the minds and hearts of families and children to divine realities, then the secular myths will triumph and the true beauty and grace of these holy days will be lost to our culture today. The work before us is not easy, but its fruits are eternal.