Resist commercialism and turn your gaze toward Christ this Christmas

As 2020 comes to an end, you might be tempted to rush into the new year and leave this one far behind. But doing so risks missing one of the most beautiful seasons on the liturgical calendar.

While this year has been challenging, it has also provided us with opportunities to lean into our faith in creative and beautiful ways. We invite you to apply these lessons to the Advent and Christmas season, as Christian stewards.

Keeping our eyes on Christ will allow us to resist the heightened consumerism and consumption that surrounds Christmas in our secular society. Increasing this commercialism will not erase the last nine months. The latest video game cannot make up for a child not seeing friends each day in the classroom, nor will a pile of presents take away the sting of spending the second holiday in as many months away from close family and friends, and our parish families.

But we can lean into this holy season and celebrate how we navigated these past nine months. Perhaps honoring the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in its truest sense is more important this year than ever before — He showed us the way and gave us the strength we needed to persevere when we might have been tempted to give up.

Keeping our faith in the face of adversity is a frequent conversation among Catholic businesspeople throughout southeast Michigan, who gather every autumn for the Mass for Commerce. We join together to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in both our personal and commercial dealings.

As you have probably guessed, the 27th Mass for Commerce looked a bit different from those in the past. Still, our livestreamed celebration from the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit rooted us as a people of faith. 

A group of us on the steering committee continue to meet throughout the year. Not only do we plan the Mass and brainstorm how to engage more of our colleagues, but we also contemplate our roles in the business community as Christian stewards.

This year, the steering committee engaged local business leaders to record reflections on the impact of their faith on workplace issues, in hopes of inspiring those in similar situations. While socially distanced at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, our panelists talked about inviting the Holy Spirit into our businesses, networking as Catholics in 2020, and allowing our faith to guide us during work conflicts.

These panelists also reflected on the theme of “no bystanders” as businesspeople as well as parents and community members during these challenging times. (You can view these reflections at

Benedetta Morley, executive director of the Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township, spoke eloquently about being fearless during this year of overwhelming fear throughout the world. “It’s just an important time for us to be completely fearless with our faith,” she said. “Still reach out to people — don’t go inward, but reach out and really share your faith like you’ve never done it before.”

The pandemic is an opportunity to rid your life of “noise” and “reset your priorities,” according to Deacon John Manera, who is a retired field chief technology officer with Dell Technologies.

“Everything we’re engaged in, trying to be successful in business, can overshadow the core of the things that can really make you happy,” he said. “Things fall in place when God is at the center.”

He has encountered many people who realized they were taking their faith practice for granted. “Now, they’re discovering it anew,” he said. “You can really see God’s work, even through all of this mess that we’re going through … taking advantage of the situation to lift people up and bring them closer to Him.”

The coronavirus pandemic has helped W. Emery Matthews, co-founder and managing principal of Real Estate Interests LLC, realize that “Mass is more than a worship service … it’s where we encounter Christ.”

Not having the opportunity to attend Mass in person forced him to reflect on what was missing and ask other questions, such as, “How do you become that light that allows Christ’s light to shine through?”

That is a question we hope you will consider asking as you celebrate our Savior’s birth. May this Christmas be different in many ways, and especially free from the commercialism that distracts from its true meaning.

Angela Moloney, president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, and Tom Scholler, manager of stewardship and grants management for the Archdiocese of Detroit, serve on the Mass for Commerce steering committee. For more information about the Mass for Commerce, or to view more videos featuring panelists’ reflections, please visit