Before the Christmas Gallery I wanted to share with you an update on Esther as I know some of you have prayed for her and some continue to pray for her.
Esther was admitted into Children’s Mercy Hospital over a week ago. She was not sick but Mike and Jeanette went there hoping they would get admitted and very grateful that she was.
Esther has been put through many tests and her diagnosis so far is NEHI (“Knee High” Lung Disease) but there are some other things going on that they are concerned about. Her carbon dioxide level is high even with the CPAP. So they are still running tests and there will be many follow-ups once they go home.
Jeanette has been sleep-deprived. Here they are at the hospital.
The Sleep-Study Test was not a walk in the park…
Esther will have to wear a CPAP each night and during her naps to help her breathe
Thank you for your continued prayers! We are all grateful to be getting answers!
The Following is a Christmas Gallery….Normally I like to do captions but not this time.
This season, as Catholics, gives us so much opportunity to live the Liturgy within the home. It gives joy and is what makes life worth living.
I hope you enjoy perusing.
The first pictures are of the stable and its construction.
St. Nicholas Day followed with much fun.
We then set up our booth for the local Christkindl Market. It was cold!
Next, Christmas pictures. And I included Theresa’s Family Pictures at the end as they were late getting them done.
Since the Gospel reports the fact of Christ’s circumcision on the eighth day after His birth (Matthew 2, 21), a feast of the liturgy in commemoration of that event might have suggested itself as soon as Christmas was established on December 25.
It took four centuries, however, until this feast was actually introduced into the Roman liturgy, and then it came from the outside, from the churches in France that had already celebrated it for two hundred years.
In the East, too, the Feast of the Circumcision is not mentioned in any calendar before the eighth century. This reluctance to introduce a feast the object and date of which were so clearly given in the Bible might have been due in some degree to the fact that circumcision had been replaced by the Sacrament of Baptism in the New Testament.
The main reason, however, doubtlessly was the secular New Year’s celebration that took place in the whole Roman Empire on January 1, and which contained so many objectionable elements that the Church authorities did not want to make that day an official feast and thereby encourage the holiday mood of the faithful.
This is indicated by the fact that in the early centuries January 1 was kept as a day of fasting and penance. “During these days, when they [the pagans] revel, we observe a fast in order to cry and pray for them,” said Saint Augustine in a sermon on New Year’s Day.
Not only in Rome, but also in Gaul, Spain, and Greece the calends of January presented great problems of religious discipline to the authorities of the Church.
During the sixth and seventh centuries various councils in France strictly forbade participation in those revels. Such prohibitions had to be repeated many times by the bishops in their respective dioceses.
The faithful were told to hold private penitential processions (litaniae) in penance and atonement for the excesses and sins committed by so many.
In Spain, the fourth Council of Toledo ( 633 ) prescribed a strict fast and abstinence for January 1, and the Alleluia was omitted from the liturgical texts in token of penance.
As late as the eighth century, the people in Rome spent New Year’s night reveling and dancing in the streets, thereby scandalizing the pious pilgrims from northern countries.
If so much public rejoicing happened at a time when Rome was completely Christian, it is no wonder that in earlier centuries the popes would not hold a solemn feast, with its customary Station processions, on January 1 when crowds of pagans, and some irresponsible Christians, roamed the city with frivolous dancing, wild carousing, and indecorous masquerades.
OCTAVE OF THE NATIVITY
While the popes and bishops in the Christian empire of Rome abstained from introducing a solemn feast on the calends of January, there was a strong inclination to distinguish the day not only by fasting but also by a prayerful and official celebration in church.
Since the people by tradition were in a festive mood, it seemed appropriate to gather them for a special service in the house of God to direct their hearts and minds to the Lord in a devout and quiet, but impressive, way.
Saint Augustine had already felt this when he beheld a large congregation gathered in church on January 1: “I see that you have come here as if we had a feast today.”
When the last remnants of paganism had disappeared, January 1 was made a ranking liturgical feast, shortly after the beginning of the seventh century, probably under Pope Boniface IV.
In imitation of the Easter, and Epiphany Octave it became the “Octave Day” of Christmas. This distinction, however, was applied in a lesser degree, since the eighth day as such, and not the whole week, as at Easter, received the liturgical character of the main feast.
Of the ancient liturgical books, the Sacramentarium Gelasianum (seventh century) contains the first entry of this feast under the simple title Octava Domini (Octave Day of the Lord).
FEAST OF MARY
Soon after the Octave of Christmas had been introduced, the celebration of January 1 assumed a Marian character. This was due to the Station of the papal service, which was the church of St. Mary beyond the Tiber, the oldest Roman church dedicated to the Mother of God.
Thus New Year’s Day became a special memorial of Mary. In the old Roman calendars it is called Natale Sanctae Mariae. ( The word natale here means simply “feast”.) In a certain sense this was the earliest feast of our Lady in the Latin Church.
Interesting is the emphasis placed on Mary’s maternity, that she is truly the Mother of Him Who was made flesh for our salvation. The character of January 1 as a feast of Mary is still preserved in the Station title; the Mass prayers, too, and the texts of the Divine Office reflect the Marian note of the feast up to this day.
The celebration of our Lord’s circumcision started in the Church of Gaul, where we find the earliest records of this feast about the middle of the sixth century.
From Gaul it spread to Spain and into the Frankish empire, and from there to Rome in the ninth century.
In the Greek Church it had already been introduced during the eighth century. Today all Eastern Rites celebrating the Nativity on December 25 also keep a Feast of the Circumcision on January 1.
The new celebration soon overshadowed the Octave of Christmas in the Roman liturgy, but did not entirely supplant it. Up to this day the official title (in the Latin Church) is a combination of both liturgical festivals: “The Circumcision of Our Lord and Octave of the Nativity.”
Because the Divine Child received the name Jesus at the circumcision, this day was also connected in the Middle Ages with special devotions in honor of the Holy Name.
Saint Bernard (1444), by both word and example, promoted the veneration of the sacred name of Jesus with great zeal. The famous hymn Jesu Dulcis Memoria (How sweet the thought of Jesus ), which he composed, is still used in the Divine Office.
In 1721 Pope Innocent III established a separate feast in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus. Pope Saint Pius X (1914) fixed its present date: on Sunday between January 1 and 6, or on January 2 if no Sunday occurs.
The Catholics of the Greek-Slavonic and Armenian Rites have kept January 1 as the Feast of the Holy Name in addition to the Circumcision.
The liturgical texts take no notice at all of January 1 as the beginning of a new civic year. This is probably due to the pagan and objectionable character of the ancient Roman New Year’s celebration, which prevented the authorities of the Church from even mentioning that aspect in the sacred service of divine worship.
In the Diocese of Toledo, Spain, however, January 1 bore the official title Caput Anni (Beginning of the Year) in the liturgical books of the seventh century.
FOLKLORE RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE
The end of the old and the beginning of a new year was, and still is, marked by popular devotional exercises. Special services are held in many churches on the eve of New Year’s to thank God for all His favors in the past year and to implore His blessings for the new one.
In rural sections of central Europe many families spend the minutes around midnight saying the rosary or other prayers, and all the church bells peal “to ring out the old and ring in the new year.”
In France and French Canada a custom coming down from medieval times is the blessing of the family. The father makes the sign of the cross on the foreheads of his kneeling family, wife and children, in token of God’s blessing for the new year.
In other Catholic sections of Europe parents bless their children with the sign of the cross at midnight. This custom of parental blessing, which is practiced also on many other occasions during the year, was a universal tradition in all countries before the Reformation.
In the towns of the Alpine sections of Austria and Germany it is a widespread custom for a little brass band to play Christmas carols and other religious hymns from the tower of the local church, or for groups of carol singers to go from street to street and “sing in the new year.”
In some places these carol singers are mounted on horses, riding from farm to farm during New Year’s night.
The popular festival on New Year’s Eve is called “Sylvester” in many countries. The word is derived, of course, from the liturgical observance of December 31, the Feast of Saint Sylvester.
Besides the traditional and familiar reveling celebration in our modern cities, many ancient customs are still practiced in European countries.
In Spanish-speaking sections it is an old tradition to eat twelve grapes at midnight, one at each stroke of the tower bell.
In central Europe the new year is greeted with the cracking of whips, shooting of rifles and mortars, and with banging and clanging noises in the home. This is a relic of the pre-Christian ritual of “driving demons away”; its original significance, however, has been forgotten, and it is now practiced as a salute to the new year.
Sylvester Night is one of the great nights for all kinds of traditional oracle games to find out what the year will bring. Tea leaves are read in many places. In central Europe spoonfuls of molten lead are poured into water, and the fantastic shapes of the congealing metal are supposed to reveal or symbolize events of the coming year.
Girls especially are looking for apparitions and oracles disclosing the young man who will come to love and marry them. Superstitions claim that his likeness will show through the mirror in the darkened room at midnight, or that he will appear to them in a dream.
These oracles are usually connected with Saint Sylvester, thus giving them the character of a devotional practice rather than a mere superstition.
The saint is asked in traditional rhyme prayers to exercise his patronage and provide a husband. And it is from his kindly favor that girls expect to see the picture in their dreams or in the mirror.
The old Roman practice of giving presents at the beginning of a new year (strenae) has survived in all Latin countries, and so has the name (etrennes in France, estrenas in Spain ).
The date, however, is now January 6 in Italy and in Spanish-speaking countries; only in France has January 1 been retained as the day of giving presents to children.
A general custom in many countries is the giving of money or presents on, or after, New Year’s Day to persons who make regular deliveries to the home ( such as the milkman, letter carrier, and paper boy ) .
A recent practice, which started spontaneously some years ago and may be found in many cities of Europe, is the custom among motorists of leaving presents at the stands of traffic policemen. These packages are then taken to the police station and distributed among the families of all traffic policemen within the precinct.
Happy Eighth Day of Christmas! “A true wife makes a man’s life nobler, stronger, grander, by the omnipotence of her love, turning all the forces of manhood upward and heavenward. While she clings to him in holy confidence and loving dependence, she brings out in him whatever is noblest and richest in his being. She inspires him with courage and earnestness. She beautifies his life. She softens whatever is crude and harsh in his habits or his spirit. She clothes him with the gentler graces of refined and cultured manhood. While she yields to him and never disregards his lightest wish, she is really his queen, ruling his whole life and leading him onward and upward in every proper path.” – J.R. Miller
On feasting & the difference on how saints feasted vs how we do today….
The rosary, scapulars, formal prayers and blessings, holy water, incense, altar candles. . . . The sacramentals of the Holy Catholic Church express the supreme beauty and goodness of Almighty God. The words and language of the blessings are beautiful; the form and art of statues and pictures inspire the best in us. The sacramentals of themselves do not save souls, but they are the means for securing heavenly help for those who use them properly. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to help devotion, and thus secure grace and take away venial sin or the temporal punishment due to sin. This beautiful compendium of Catholic sacramentals contains more than 60,000 words and over 50 full color illustrations that make the time-tested sacramental traditions of the Church – many of which have been forgotten since Vatican II – readily available to every believer.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Published 80 years ago, this Catholic classic focuses on the Christian family and uses as its foundation the1929 encyclical “On Christian Education of Youth” coupled with the “sense of Faith.” Addressing family topics and issues that remain as timely now as they were when the guide was first published, “The Christian Home” succinctly offers sound priestly reminders and advice in six major areas…
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Perhaps you think I’ve made a mistake in spelling. Or you may decide I’m indulging in a play on words. But there is no mistake in spelling, and my play on words is based solely on a desire to play down the kind of Christmas frequently associated with the word merry and to play up the kind of Christmas inevitably associated with the name Mary. In other words, I wish you the kind of Christmas Mary, the mother of Christ, would wish you.
But first let me assure you that it is normal to be merry at Christmas, for Christmas is the happiest of all birthdays. It commemorates not only the birth of Christ, the beginning of His life on earth, but also the rebirth of every man in Christ.
Angels celebrated the occasion with celestial music which was for man the opening movement of a symphony of divine love, marking God’s fulfillment of His promise to send man a Savior. Little wonder, then, that the whole season surrounding Christmas has become synonymous with jubilation.
But too often the merriment in evidence at Christmas is far from being an excess of joy or an overflow of happiness. For the ruthless exploitation and the over-commercialism of Love’s anniversary have dulled the edge of the season’s happiness for millions of people.
True Christmas joy can be born only of hope, but the anxieties, the tensions, and the stresses involved in today’s preparations for the Feast more often resemble a flight from hope, a journey into frustration.
The tragedy of all this becomes evident when we consider that the soul of Christmas joy is the thrilling fact recorded in Sacred Scripture, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord.” These are the divinely-inspired words which at Christmas quicken in the human heart an ecstasy unknown at any other time.
ANXIETIES AND TENSIONS
But when he is the victim of a hundred pressures, it is hard for modern man to be ecstatic. With his peace of mind assailed on every side, he finds it difficult to recall that true peace of soul, the promised peace of Christmas, can be possessed only by one who stands before God with a conscience free from serious sin.
Modern advertising has brain-washed him into forgetting that true joy does not result from the selection of an ideal gift for everyone on his shopping list; rather is it a quality of a heart in love with God. Yes, in our day the stresses and strains of the festive season have affected almost everyone to a greater or less degree.
They have even penetrated the family circle. And though Christmas is and always was the feast of home and family, and men go to great lengths to keep it so, the frenzy of the season makes the modern family despair of recapturing a measure of the rapture experienced by the Holy Family in Bethlehem. And their efforts to have a Merry Christmas are largely to blame.
One phase of this trend is seen in the over-emphasis on Christmas shopping. As December 25 approaches, greater and greater crowds throng the stores, struggling and shoving, examining goods, making purchases.
Harried clerks rush about waiting on customers, displaying and demonstrating merchandise, wrapping and tying packages, trying to maintain their composure against losing odds.
No doubt many people will be made merry by the gifts they receive. But what a travesty of Christmas if any gift is given from an empty heart. On the first Christmas God gave His only-begotten Son because “He so loved the world,” but this Christmas Helen will give Sally a gift because she hopes for one in return, and Jim will yield to social pressure and exchange gifts with a fellow-worker he hardly knows.
One man became so weary of the frustration of giving a shirt and getting a shirt, of giving cigars and getting cigars, that one Christmas he sent cards to his friends saying that he planned to give to charity in their name the amount he formerly spent on gifts for them. His friends liked the idea. They liked it so much, in fact, that they adopted it themselves. From that man’s gesture almost $1,500 is now given each Christmas to orphans, the sick, the hungry, and the needy.
Though this man was comfortable in his own home, he did not let his curtains drawn against the cold deaden the cry of suffering from the outside world. While enjoying the warmth of his fire on winter nights, he did not forget that many people were denied that comfort.
He had so hated the commercialism of the Christmas season, the terrific pressures and the insane methods of making it merry that he had grown to dislike the Feast itself. But when he stopped to think about it, he readily realized that what he really hated was the way it was celebrated by so many people.
They were, in fact, being manipulated like puppets on the strings of big business, social custom and human respect. This man cut the strings and set out to observe a Mary Christmas.
A MERRY CHRISTMAS?
But even when we have said all this, we have not said the worst about the modern concept of a Merry Christmas. In many so-called sophisticated circles there is the inevitable “office party” at which business executives and their staff celebrate the Feast. No reasonable person is opposed to parties, and employees especially appreciate an annual display of warmth and friendliness from their employers.
Didn’t the Infant Savior come to earth to save all men, and didn’t He welcome to Bethlehem both Kings and Shepherds? Nothing could be more fitting, therefore, than for the kings of modern business and the shepherds from their offices to come together and celebrate His birthday. But the ordinary Christmas office party is hardly reminiscent of Bethlehem, and the type of pagan entertainment provided at some such parties may do honor to Bacchus and Venus, but it is an insult to Christ, a blasphemy and a sacrilege.
Those who thus dishonor the sacred Christmas season have lost all concept of the meaning of the divine love that wrought Bethlehem’s miracle; indeed, for them celebrating Christmas is a mockery of that love.
Even apart from the wrong kind of office party, an increasing number of people associate a Merry Christmas with the exhilaration and intoxication that the excessive use of liquor produces. The only Christmas spirit they know is in bottles, and throughout the Holy Season they are likely to be to a greater or less extent under its influence.
On the first Christmas God came among men to elevate them to a share in His own divine life; and now on its anniversary many of them degrade themselves lower than the brutes. When a father or mother, a son or daughter spends Christmas in a drunken stupor and disrupts the peace and harmony of the home, the happiest day of the year is made one of the saddest for the other members of the family. Such arrogant selfishness and supreme self-indulgence defile and desecrate Christ’s birthday. A Merry Christmas? For whom?
THE BIRTHDAY WITH A DIFFERENCE
But we need not describe further the world’s distorted notion of a Merry Christmas. Rather, do I want to describe God’s notion of a Mary Christmas.
Let us not forget that Christmas is the anniversary of the day on which God came into the world as man, the day on which time and eternity met and heaven and earth joined hands.
Christmas is the birthday with a difference. When we celebrate a friend’s birthday, we rejoice with him because he has lived another year, because he has attained the age of forty-six or fifty-eight. We seldom think of the day on which he was born forty-six or fifty-eight years ago. We do not think of him as he was then, as a new-born babe. We think of him as he is here and now, as a man of forty-six or fifty-eight.
In this respect Christmas is very different, even unique. Christmas is the birthday of Christ, the anniversary of the day on which the Savior of the world was born. And now, almost 2,000 years after His birth, Christmas evokes an image not of a Young Man in the thirties who died on a cross, but of a newborn Infant lying in a manger.
It is thus that He is pictured in Christmas art and represented in Christmas song and story. In other words, in celebrating Christmas, we are concerned not with the anniversary of the day of Christ’s birth, but with the very day itself.
God’s love was so beautifully expressed by coming to earth as the Babe of Bethlehem that we want to retain that expression; at least we want to recapture it once each year.
And there is another point of difference between our observance of a friend’s birthday and our celebration of Christ’s. A person can have a birthday only because someone gave him birth, and nothing should be more natural at a birthday party than that reference be made to the mother of the guest of honor, the one who made it possible for him to have a birthday. But such reference is seldom made.
That is where Christmas differs again from other birthdays. An infant is normally associated with his mother, and we cannot separate the Infant Savior from Mary. In our representations of the Christmas story in art and in our retelling of it in words Mary is always present; she either holds the Infant Savior in her arms or kneels beside His manger-crib. The world would not have it otherwise.
The most beautiful and most perfect Christmas anyone ever celebrated was a Mary Christmas, the first Christmas in which Mary played so prominent a role, the first Christmas when Mary herself celebrated the day of days.
For a Mary Christmas is the kind of Christmas God Himself arranged, and He then inspired the Evangelists to tell the world about it in simple but sublime language.
I hope that during this Christmas season you will take down your family Bible and read the second chapter of St. Luke and the first two chapters of St. Matthew. You will notice that in both accounts of Christ’s infancy Mary is prominently mentioned. In other words, God’s own first Christmas on earth was a Mary Christmas.
GOD MADE THE CHOICE
There is another point that we are inclined to overlook. God was the only son in the history of the human race who had the privilege and the opportunity of choosing His own mother, and Mary was the object of His divine choice. That privilege was the prerogative of the Creator alone.
God’s plan for the redemption of the human race, a plan made from all eternity, involved His own coming into the world as man, and He needed a human mother to give Him birth. He would choose her, fashion and form her according to His own specifications, and then ask her to accept the sublime dignity.
As any of us would do, God gave her a soul that was spotless, a heart completely in tune with His, a will in perfect conformity to His own. In fact, He made her the embodiment of beauty, grace, understanding, perfection. God’s choice was made in eternity, and in the fullness of time it was announced to the one who had been chosen.
It is now almost 2,000 years since, in preparation for the first Mary Christmas, God sent His great Archangel Gabriel speeding to earth with His greeting and His message to Mary of Nazareth. “Hail, full of grace,” the Angel spoke in God’s words. “The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.”
When Mary had somewhat recovered from her initial fear and astonishment, a brief dialogue followed in which Gabriel outlined the divine plan. The Messiah was to be the Son of God, and Mary had been chosen to be His mother. She would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and, though becoming a mother, she would remain a virgin.
Seeing the only obstacle removed and recognizing the Angel’s message as the manifest will of God, Mary humbly consented, “Behold the hand-maid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” The Incarnation took place, and the Son of God and His mother waited in anticipation of the first Mary Christmas.
Nine months later Mary gave birth to her Divine Son in the little town of Bethlehem. Though the world was unconcerned and indifferent to His coming, God sent a celestial choir to the nearby hillside to chant the most beautiful and melodious of all Christmas carols, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.”
A few Shepherds invited by the Angel and a few Wise Men directed by the star hastened to Bethlehem to greet and worship the Savior of the world. Certainly the Infant appreciated the sentiments of both Shepherds and Wise Men, but above all He delighted in the love of His own mother.
In heaven He had had the adoration of legions of angels, but now on earth He experienced a mother’s love for the first time. And no one loved this Child as His mother did. No one understood Him so completely.
Every other mother who caresses the young life that has been born to her looks up to heaven to thank God for His gift, but Mary looked down for she had heaven nestling in her arms—her Son and her God.
WHAT A MARY CHRISTMAS MEANS
St. Luke implies that on the night of Christ’s birth the Shepherds related the events to everyone they met. “All who heard marveled at the things told them by the shepherds.”
In contrast, the same sacred writer records that “Mary kept in mind all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
We will have a Mary Christmas if, like Mary, we ponder the meaning and the mystery of God made man. Such thoughts will stir in our hearts a greater response to God’s love. And we will more fully realize that it was the greatest possible gift that God gave us on the first Christmas. We will learn that the song of the angels was no mere cradle song, but a call to action to all men of good will.
For we will naturally express our love in action, in service of God and of our fellowmen. We will have a Mary Christmas if we radiate the warmth of charity. Christmas gift-giving is traditional, of course, for it dates back to the first Christmas when God the Father gave His Son to the world and the Magi gave their treasures to the newborn King.
But we too often give gifts to those who have everything, not often enough to those who have nothing.
I was delighted with the reply of a five-year-old son of fairly well-to-do parents when asked what he wanted for Christmas, “Don’t give me nothing. I got too much already.”
Most of us will visit our friends and make them welcome in our homes, but in memory of the helplessness of the Infant Savior we must include in our visits those who are helpless—the shut-ins, the sick and the aged.
It is frequently said by adults that Christmas is only for children. I repeat that sentiment here, and when I wish you a Mary Christmas I wish you the love and joy with which the season fills the hearts of children.
For we are all God’s children, and at Christmas in a special way we are all Mary’s children. You see, Mary, being the mother of Christ, is also the mother of Christmas.
THE MOST HOLY FAMILY
Representation of the first Tabernacle (The Blessed Virgin Mary) with the Most Blessed Sacrament (Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ). Protecting them both is the Tabernacle Veil (St Joseph).
Join me as I read to you the beautiful meditations of the Christmas Child written by Father Daniel Lord in the 1950’s…
Just in time for those New Year’s Resolutions!… The Catholic Boy’s and Girl’s Traditional 30-Day Journals! Let’s keep our youth engaged in the Faith! Let’s teach them how to be organized, how to prioritize, how to keep on top of, first, the Spiritual things in their lives, and then the other daily duties that God requires of them… Available here.
In With God in Russia, Ciszek reflects on his daily life as a prisoner, the labor he endured while working in the mines and on construction gangs, his unwavering faith in God, and his firm devotion to his vows and vocation. Enduring brutal conditions, Ciszek risked his life to offer spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners who could easily have exposed him for their own gains. He chronicles these experiences with grace, humility, and candor, from his secret work leading mass and hearing confessions within the prison grounds, to his participation in a major gulag uprising, to his own “resurrection”—his eventual release in a prisoner exchange in October 1963 which astonished all who had feared he was dead.
Powerful and inspirational, With God in Russia captures the heroic patience, endurance, and religious conviction of a man whose life embodied the Christian ideals that sustained him…..
Captured by a Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a “Vatican spy,” Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. Only through an utter reliance on God’s will did he manage to endure the extreme hardship. He tells of the courage he found in prayer–a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustration, the anguish, the fears, the despair. For, as Ciszek relates, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amidst the “arrogance of evil” that surrounded him. Ciszek learns to accept the inhuman work in the infamous Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God. And through that experience, he was able to turn the adverse forces of circumstance into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit.
He Leadeth Me is a book to inspire all Christians to greater faith and trust in God–even in their darkest hour. As the author asks, “What can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of every day as a gift from the hands of God and strives always to do his will?” This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Finer Femininity!
Our family still at home:
Back: Hannah, Rosie, Angelo and Gemma
Front: Leane & Vincent
Vin and Gin’s Family:
Back: Johnathan, Antonio, Edward, Benjamin,
Middle:Emma, Vincent, David (Baby), Virginia, Nathan
Front: Annie, Peter, Juliette
Mike and Jeanette’s Family:
Back: Esther, Jeanette, Mike
Front: Elias, Tobias, Magdalene & Agnes
Dominic & Sarah’s Family:
Left to Right:
Augustine, Sarah, Baby Adele, Rita, Dominic, Lucy
Some of the couples didn’t take official Christmas pictures. We have had a lot of sickness raging among the grandchildren which has slowed some things down and other things came to a halt….like Christmas pictures. So I snagged a few to include.
Devin and Theresa’s Family:
Sophia, Brendan, Sienna, Adam, Avila and Adrian. In their PJ’s about to take a nap before Midnight Mass…
David and Margy have 2 little ones now. We were able to get this picture on Christmas Day…
Colin and Z’s Family:
Left to Right, Front to Back:
Isaac, Grace, Jacob, Charlotte, Colin, Ethan and Zaelie
Z is in the second photo….
Sep and Molly with their family:
Left to Right, Back to Front:
Molly & Marian (Baby), Dad, Sep, Mom, Sebastian, Fabian, Cyprian, Gracian, Killian, Marcellian and Lillian
It is easy to understand how enraptured children can become at the contemplation of a tiny Babe in a manger.
To have God reduce Himself to their own status, to become a child like them, to need a mother, what more could they desire!They feel on a footing with Him. The Almighty is of their stature!
We are told that on Christmas Eve, Saint John of the Cross used to carry a statue of the Infant Jesus in procession about the monastery. The procession would stop before each monk’s cell asking hospitality for the Divine Babe.
The cells, like the hearts of the monks, would open to faith and to love. Only then would the statue be carried to the Crib and the Divine Office begin.
Children share the simplicity of these holy monks. Nothing attracts them more than the Crib. This very attraction makes it imperative that they learn about it correctly.
Care must be taken not to mix in with the gospel mystery any details which the child will later come to recognize as false.
What good can come of representing Santa Claus almost as God the Father who has given us His Son?
Why let children believe that it is the Infant Jesus Himself who comes down the chimney to bring them presents . . . only to hear some day, “You know, Mama, this is the last time I’m going to believe in Little Jesus who comes down the chimney with presents.”
If we mix the false with the true, it is no wonder the child will not be able to separate legend from doctrine later on.
The Gospel is sufficiently extraordinary in itself without our adding any of our own creations to it. If we do, we may well fear the child will become disgusted later at being deceived and reject everything.
Any charming legend or pious little story we may want to tell them when they are very little should be kept quite distinct and handled very differently from the dogmatic truths and authentic historical facts we teach them.
Let us not introduce fairies into the story of Jeanne of Arc’s childhood, nor put the legend of Saint Nicholas rescuing little children on a level with the realities of the Redemption, with the facts of Our Lord’s saving us from hell.
If, therefore, we are to capitalize on the child’s attraction for the marvelous, let us avoid abusing his credulity; above all when dealing with the lives of the saints, with the Blessed Virgin and with Christ, let us not mix the false with the true.
Let us always keep on a plane apart those truths which are to be forever the object of ineradicable belief.
There is, however, a positive suggestion to offer: Explain to the child how Baptism has made him a living Crib; not a wooden manger padded with straw, but a living Crib; not a crib where only little Jesus lives but a Crib where the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity dwell, the Three Divine Persons.
Here, too, is splendid opportunity to show the child the difference between the two presences—the presence of God in the soul through grace and the presence of Jesus in the stable through the Incarnation.
Never weary in cheering your family with your smile. It is not enough to avoid depressing them; you must brighten them up and let their spirits expand. Be especially vigilant when the little ones are around. Give them the alms of a smile, hard though it be at times. What a pity when children have to say, “I don’t like it at home.” -Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, 1950’s
Do you want an idea for a simple Christmas activity? Join Angelo for a night of fun building a simple Christmas nativity scene with his nieces and nephews…
Lovely gifts! Beautiful and graceful, these Religious necklaces can be worn to show your devotion to your Heavenly Friends! Get it blessed and wear it as a sacramental! Available here.
Women historically have been denigrated as lower than men or viewed as privileged. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand characterizes the difference between such views as based on whether man’s vision is secularistic or steeped in the supernatural. She shows that feminism’s attempts to gain equality with men by imitation of men is unnatural, foolish, destructive, and self-defeating. The Blessed Mother’s role in the Incarnation points to the true privilege of being a woman. Both virginity and maternity meet in Mary who exhibits the feminine gifts of purity, receptivity to God’s word, and life-giving nurturance at their highest.
You’ll learn how to grow in wisdom and in love as you encounter the unglamorous, everyday problems that threaten all marriages. As the author says: If someone were to give me many short bits of wool, most likely I would throw them away. A carpet weaver thinks differently. He knows the marvels we can achieve by using small things artfully and lovingly. Like the carpet weaver, the good wife must be an artist of love. She must remember her mission and never waste the little deeds that fill her day the precious bits of wool she s been given to weave the majestic tapestry of married love.
This remarkable book will show you how to start weaving love into the tapestry of your marriage today, as it leads you more deeply into the joys of love.
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