Writing

Make Haste for the Things of God

As the Holy Season of Advent winds down, I’ve been pondering the role of Saint Joseph in the life of Jesus. After reading a post today from Father Jason Vidrine (A classmate of mine from the Angelicum), I asked if I might share his homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent. He states so well what has been on my mind in the last few days, that I thought it would be good for you to read too. Enjoy!

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, all four candles of the wreath are lit…the feast of Our Lord Jesus’ birth – Christmas – is very near! The Church began to pray her annual Christmas novena on Tuesday of this past week…each day the great “O” antiphons were sung – the cry of the nations throughout the Old Covenant: O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Dayspring, O King of the Nations, O Emmanuel…come and set us free! And in these Scriptures on this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear how those long-awaited hopes were finally fulfilled, which we’ll celebrate again in two days!

So hopefully by now, nearly all the gifts are wrapped. The Christmas cards are mostly sent and received. Some family members and cousins have arrived. The students’ break from school has begun. The children are looking up the chimney or toward the sky, waiting for the big arrival. With the children, we’re all filled with anticipation.

Could there anything more exciting in our world than children waiting for Santa Claus? While there may not be many…there is one: a pregnant woman waiting for her little love to be born.  The Gospel today shows us a central one! We hear that St. Joseph, not yet understanding God’s plan – finds his wife pregnant even though they had no marital relations – and prepares to send her away quietly. The Angel Gabriel comes to him saying:“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:20-21)The Blessed Virgin Mary is overflowing with anticipation…with expectation ever since the Angel Gabriel departed from her. She knew that the baby in her womb would change not only their lives…but the world and all of human history too. St. Joseph is invited to see and embrace this great mystery.

St. Matthew tells us: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home” (Mt 1:24). Here we see St. Joseph fulfilling the mission God gives him. How? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity…even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time he was betrothed to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the husband of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; during the drama of the flight into Egypt and at the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his work to Jesus. Always present…always faithful…always doing God’s will with haste.

As we gather on the cusp of Christmas, perhaps there’s a final preparation we can make for it…maybe spending a few moments thinking about the great Gift God has given us… and focus on the gratitude we owe Him. The great gift of Christmas, of course, is the gift of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In his third book on the life of Christ published last year, “Jesus of Nazareth, the Infancy Narratives” Pope Benedict prayerfully considers the stories about Jesus’ birth. He considers these questions: “Is what I read true? Does it concern me? If so, how?”

Pope Benedict notes how St. Joseph does what the Angel of the Lord commanded him (as we hear today) with haste. Of course, Our Lady goes to her relative Elizabeth’s home with haste…and the shepherds also made haste when they heard about Jesus’ birth. So he asks: “How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned? Surely if anything merits haste – so the evangelist is discreetly telling us – then it is the things of God.”  A good thought for us today.

Here Pope Benedict put his finger on one of the biggest problems of our modern world. We’re busy – even frantically busy – but when it comes to God and the “things of God”, we tend to be lazy and slothful. Right now…right before Christmas, we’re busy about manythings, but do we stop and ask, “What is Christmas, anyway?”

There’s nothing wrong with Christmas shopping and preparing family gatherings in themselves. Those things are good and they require a lot of work and sacrifice. They are very important in terms of building and strengthening the family. But in light of the Gospel, Pope Benedict’s question becomes so important: “How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned?” There’s lots of anticipation and excitement…but for what exactly?

I think the letters of children are very revealing here. Last year, the Catholic News Agency reported about a Christmas letter to Baby Jesus written by Pope Benedict in 1934 when he was 7 years old; it had been recently discovered during a renovation of a house he used to live in. This is what the letter said: “Dear Baby Jesus, come quickly down to earth.You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy. I would like a Volks-Schott, green clothing for Mass and a heart of Jesus. I will always be good. Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger.”

At this time, newspapers often publish children’s Christmas letters as the Gazette did today. They write to Santa asking for all kinds of things…from a baby doll, tea set, bike, basket ball, Halo man, X box, 4-wheeler, I-Pad, scooter, fire truck, ferret, I-Pad mini, to a monkey, trampoline, gun, dog, computer, clothes, etc.

Writing

But notice the great difference there is between these letters! One is to Jesus…the others to Santa. One asks for joy, clothes to play Mass, and the heart of Jesus…the others for every sort of material thing you can think of. (Don’t get me wrong…I’m not condemning Santa or material things for Christmas!) But I think the difference is much more than simply a “different time”. Once again, I think we can put our finger on one of the biggest struggles of our modern world: not only are we busy about everything but God and the “things of God”…but our very excitement, anticipation, and desires are based on something radically different…Again, “What is Christmas, anyway?”

What were Pope Benedict’s Christmas requests as a child? The first thing he asked Jesus for was joy. It’s one of the themes he returned to again and again his homilies and writings as Pope. Joy is like God Himself…difficult for us to describe. We can understand it more by what it’s not. Joy is the opposite of misery, sadness, grief, sorrow…the literal state of depression and despair that fills the hearts of so many folks in our world today…even though they have everything they want and more! “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us!” (Blessed Columba Marmion, OSB). That’s what little Joey Ratzinger wanted.

The second request for Christmas Pope Benedict had as a 7 year old was a Schott…one of the first prayer books for Mass for children – with the German next to the Latin texts. The little Joseph also asked for “green clothing for Mass.” The Pope and his brothers used to play Mass and their mom, who was a seamstress, would make clothes similar to Mass vestments for them to use. What this shows us was the devotion of their family. The worship of God was a central part of their lives. Even as a young boy, Pope Benedict knew that God is present and that we truly encounter Him here in the Sacred Liturgy.

Finally, Pope Benedict as a boy asked for a heart of Jesus. He was referring to an image of the Sacred Heart, which his family had a great devotion to. But he didn’t just want an image…he also wanted a heart that loved…that could be loved and could give love. (By 1934, the rise of Hitler was in full swing, and surely his hatred and evil was well known.)

Why do I point out this great difference in these Christmas letters of children? Because again, I think the difference is much more than simply one of a “different time”. Christmas brings great excitement, anticipation, haste…but about what?? For what??

As we gather on this Fourth Sunday of Advent, let us ponder the question of the 86-year-old Joseph…now Pope Emeritus spending his last days in quiet and prayer for us: “How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned? Surely if anything merits haste – as the Gospel writer is discreetly telling us – then it is the things of God.” Let us follow the example of St. Joseph. He does the will of God with haste. Let us draw near to him and the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking their prayers for us that this Christmas we might experience a grace: regarding God and the things of God, we might overcome all sloth and laziness…that we might make haste and open our hearts to encounter the only One who can and does give us true life: the newborn King, Jesus Christ the Lord (John 10:10). Amen.

Original Post here.

Fr. Jason Vidrine

 Rev. Fr. Jason Vidrine was appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in November 2013. He was ordained Deacon at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on October 6, 2005 and then as a Priest for the Diocese of Lafayette, LA, on July 8, 2006. Fr. Vidrine is a native of Ville Platte and entered the seminary after graduating from Bayou Chicot High School, completing a B.A. in Arts and Philosophy from St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, LA in 2002. Following college seminary, he was sent to Rome for theological formation at the Pontifical North American College and earned an S.T.B. and M.A. in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Fr. Vidrine’s previous assignments have been as Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center on the campus of UL and Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Scott, as well as, most recently, as Pastor of St. Peter Church and Principal of St. Peter School in Gueydan, LA. He also currently serves as a professor of Mariology for the Aquinas Institute of Theology in the Diocese of Lafayette, the spiritual director of Our Lady of Grace Comitium of the Legion of Mary in the Diocese of Lafayette, and assistant Diocesan Master of Ceremonies.

Patient Waiting, Undying Hope

Each year when we begin our preparation for Christmas with the season of Advent, we listen to an instruction by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem:

“We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.

In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects. There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time. There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and a coming before all eyes, still in the future.

At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels. We look then beyond the first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

– Office of Readings, 1st Sunday of Advent

These words mark the anticipation of the Christian life. We sit between two comings of Christ, and, St Cyril reminds us, when the Lord comes again, it will not be clothed in silence in a manger. At the second coming, there will be no mistake that the Lord is here. But in our waiting for that day that only the Father knows, what is our attitude of waiting?

Jesus tells us what our attitude should be like. When the disciples questioned him about the signs that the end was near, Jesus responded, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come…whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:32-33, 35-37)

vigilance copyThe first disciples of Jesus thought that the Lord would return in their lifetime. They committed all their resources to getting the word out, proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. As one Disciple after another began to die, it made them wonder, where is the Messiah? Isn’t He coming back soon? Urgency turned to hesitancy. Many possibly returned to their previous lives. Their vigilance turned its energies to ordinary tasks.

To think, we’ve been waiting for the Messiah’s return for not quite two thousand years. And, a general pattern follows that after a period of complacency, believers find themselves persecuted and must choose whether what they believe is worth dying for. We see many signs that any hope for the return of Christ is fading from our cultural memory. The memory is clouded with a sense of urgency for what is not eternal. Eternal seems so far a way, like an old fairy tale. But it is not a fairy tale and the words of Jesus are words for our generation:

“Be watchful! Be alert!…Watch!”

To have such a capacity comes from a life formed by prayer and worship. For these require discipline which also prepares the heart for hardship and difficult choices. Do we have such an attitude that will sustain our waiting? Are we willing to wait in patience and vigilance, without letting hope of His coming die in our hearts?

Come Lord Jesus! Come soon!

A New Day Dawns

Look at the horizon,
from his slumber wakes
wrapped in the warmth
of his mother’s arms,

She holds him up,
presenting her Son this day,
‘He is with you always…
obey my son.’

In morning twilight,
her mantle flowing
with countless stars,
unveiling her protective cloak,
the Savior Child responds

Bringing brightness and hope
into a darkened world
the dawn of a new day,
the Lord has come!

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“For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:5

A very Blessed and Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

The Cross from the Creche

 

We received a very curious Christmas card.

Mary is tenderly holding the sleeping Christ child, her veil a crimson red. Behind her is the cross, and an owl peering out from over her shoulder.

It is not unusual to have Mary caressing her newborn infant Son in greeting cards at Christmas time. However, the imagery around the Mother and Child seem all wrong.

Mary is dressed in red. Red often stands for the Holy Spirit, but it also represents blood and suffering,  of Christ’s passion and of martyrdom. Placed in the context of the nativity, it reminds us that this is no ordinary child being held by a mother. Her garment is a foretaste of the sword that will pierce her heart.

The Cross.  Philippians 2:7-8 remind us:

“He emptied himself…coming in human likeness;

and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,

becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

Our Christmas celebrations sometimes conveniently leave us to stay at the manger scene, while to understand the full meaning of the Incarnation, we must reach beyond the tenderness of the creche to the Cross. Some of Christmas’ finest songs still remind us of the ‘why’ of the Word made flesh:

Nails, spear shall pierce him through

The cross be borne for me, for you.

Hail, hail the Word made Flesh,

The Babe, the Son of Mary!

– What Child is This, verse 2

=> Read More at Ignitum Today

Related:

Advent – A Call to Wait

Passion of Cross and Mary’s Role

Three Reasons for Mary

The Promise Eternal

These words from the First Letter of John remind us of the reason for our celebrating:

“What was from the beginning,

what we have heard,

what we have seen with our eyes,

what we looked upon and touched with our hands

concerns the Word of life…

God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.”

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“Let what you’ve heard from the beginning remain in you.”

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“This is the promise He made to us…Eternal Life.”

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May our Lord fill our hearts with His Divine Light – the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

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Related Posts:

Midnight Mass with the Pope in Rome – Be There

Peg Demitris on The Gift Set Aside

The Lord’s Hidden Message

Br. Billy Isenor – St Francis’ Christmas Prayer

The Anchoress added a podcast of the Nativity Story and the post Behold the Bridegroom Comes

Sophia at Always Catholic gives a nostalgic look at Christmas – Buon Natale – or “Where did Our Catholic Stories Go?”

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Thanks, Sofia, for the cross-post at Always Catholic!

The Lord’s Hidden Message

As a little girl, I loved puzzles. The more difficult they were, the more I loved them. And how I remember my anticipation at Christmas to see if  ‘Santa’ would deliver the puzzle I hoped for.

So, it comes as no surprise that I found the following an interesting and exciting Christmas message!

The much loved Christmas hymn, Veni, Veni Emmanuel – or ‘O Come, o Come Emmanuel’ – is sung at Evening Prayer during the octave before Christmas (December 17 – 23). Each night highlights one of the seven “O” Antiphons, each a different name for the Christ: Sapientia (wisdom), Adonai (Lord of Might), Radix Jesse (Stump/Rod of Jesse), Clavis David (Key of David), Oriens (Dayspring), Rex Gentium (King of the Nations), Emmanuel (God with Us).

These names in themselves give us something to ponder, as we marvel each year at the wonder that God became flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:14). As we ponder this anew, in anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth, these antiphons together have another message for us. A very timely message as we – on the eighth night (23rd) – sing the refrain for the last time:

Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!

If we pause to look back at those seven names of Christ, in reverse order:

Emmanuel

Rex Gentium

Oriens

Clavis David

Radix Jesse

Adonai

Sapientia

we find an acrostic through which the Lord responds, “ERO CRAS!”, which can be translated, “Tomorrow, I will come!”

And so it is! Tomorrow night we begin our celebration of the Christ Child.

Maranatha! Come, Emmanuel!

And the Lord responds, “Behold, I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:12.

The Gift Set Aside

A dear friend of mine, Peg Demetris, wrote the following reflection and graciously agreed to let me post it to my blog. As we prepare our hearts to make room for the Christ-Child, let us not miss out on the greatest gift of all:

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For my birthday this year, my husband bought me my first crucifix pendant. I had been pondering getting one for some time. I had been given many crosses throughout my lifetime but never had a crucifix to wear around my neck.

When I was born, as a gift to me, my namesake from Slovakia, Great Auntie Margaret, sent a cross and chain to my mother for me. It was beautiful. I was only allowed to wear it for pictures and on Easter and special holidays. It was 18 carat gold. It was a very special reminder to me that someone, whom I was named after, thought of my soul.

One day in my rebellious teens, when wearing gold was the in thing to do, I asked my mother if I could wear it all the time because after all, It was MINE! She gave it to me and said be careful, you can’t replace that one. It wasn’t long after that, I lost it while running across a busy street and the chain it was on broke. The chain and the cross on it, gone do to the weight of the other items around my neck that accompanied it. Items today, I consider junk.

While growing out of the rebellious teens, I had been given gifts of many crosses from various people. Some nice, some expensive but looking back, never a crucifix. Strange really, since I was Catholic, but never thought about it until this year. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the gifts given, but something was missing.

While walking through the Exchange at MCAS Miramar, a few days before my birthday, passing the jewelery counter, I stopped. Mind you, I’m not a “Bling” girl. What captured my eye, was a tiny little gold crucifix. I smiled, looked at my husband and told him, please buy this for me for my birthday. And he did. When the women took it out of the glass display case, I felt a sense of finality. I finally had my crucifix. Which couldn’t be further from the truth when you read on. She then told me that it was 18 carat gold. My jaw hit the ground in amazement. I was immediately brought back to the first cross I received at birth. The one that could not be replaced. After all, 18 carat gold is not easy to find here in the US. I smiled and knew, this was the one.

Several days after my birthday, I still had not put on that tiny little crucifix. I wanted to have it blessed before I put it on an older chain to wear it. Finally, on Sunday December 12, the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, I was able to have my tiny little crucifix blessed. “Rejoice in the Lord always”

Today, just a day before Christmas Eve, I received another gift because of the gift of that tiny little gold crucifix. As I ponder the thought of Christmas and our Lord’s birth. I find myself lately only able to ponder His life in regards to the full circle. The reason He was born and the fullness of that ultimate gift to each soul on earth.

The “Material Crucifix” I now have, I am reminded of the reason I never had one before hanging around my neck. I always had the real one. I was just to blind to see it. The day I was baptized, I received it. The day we are all baptized, we receive it. Its a gift I had taken for granted for so many years. A gift I tossed aside, digging to see if there was more. Not fully comprehending this gift I can only now embrace His gift, under His tree and thank Him for it.

Every gift we receive, everything is a gift,has a meaning and the meaning behind it is the true gift.

This year and for all the years to come, I ask everyone to ponder the real reason for this ultimate gift. I beg you to not set it aside. Treasure the gift of our Lord. He can never be replaced.

God Bless and Merry Christmas.

Advent for Little Ones

I just came across this series thanks to a friend of mine, and I liked it so much I thought I’d share it as a resource to all my readers with children (and, for all you adults out there – like me – who are children at heart!).

The Series entitled ‘Advent Adventure’, put together by Holy Heroes, guides families through daily activities of the Jesse Tree. It is a way of helping children to prepare for Jesus, while learning about his lineage and the scriptural basis for the celebration of his birth (and salvific mission). I like the fact that the stories are told – and designed by – children, for children. For example, this cute clip on sacrifice (from Day Three), explains how the small things we do for others prepares a place for the baby Jesus (just as doing good prepares our hearts):

The preparation began this last weekend, but it’s still not too late to start this Advent project with your little ones.

Day One – Explanation of the Jesse Tree Project and Resources.

Day Two – Monday the 29th: gives a good explanation of why we need to prepare, and how to help our children understand this:

To my children, preparing for the coming of Jesus always seemed like a wonderful game, until one day when my eldest child said to me, “I really don’t get this, because Jesus has already come.”

Then I realized that I had never explained that we are preparing not only for Jesus’ coming at Christmas, but for when He comes again…In fact, our whole lives should be a preparation to meet Jesus, but the Church gives us this wonderful time of Advent to really focus us on the coming of Jesus at Christmas…”

Day Three – Tuesday the 30th: the sacrifice manger (above) and the second part of the story of creation.

Day Four – Wednesday – December 1 – more about sacrifice, and the Jesse Tree – and the Fall of Man:

“Because battle is pretty rough sometimes, we have had to develop a sturdy set of sacrifice beads and a way to secure them reliably.”

Day Five – Thursday – December 2 – Noah and the Flood is explained:

“The Jesse Tree video is all about Noah and the Flood, which is a motif that re-echoes throughout Salvation History. Think of all the times that God rescues His Chosen Ones through water or with water! Have your children think about all the times they hear about this in their catechism, and how much water plays a part in our Faith.”

Day Six – Friday – December 3 – discusses the role of St John the Baptist in salvation history:

“John the Baptist is trying to get our attention.  He is saying, “Wake up! He is coming!  Prepare yourselves for the coming of the King of Kings!”  And that is what Advent is all about.”

Day Seven – Saturday – December 4 – An introduction to St Nicholas and his feast day (Monday), and the Jesse Tree figure of the day – Isaac:

“St Nicholas is the patron saint of children. So Sunday night my children will put their shoes out by the fireplace, and overnight St. Nicholas will place in them some small token, or candy, or money…They are happy with the smallest token and that makes me realize it is not the stuff, but the celebration that they love.”

Day Eight – Monday – December 6 – Feast of St Nicholas and the praying of the Angelus:

“This practice is all but lost, but many have begun to revive it in their families before meals. We pray it before lunch every day. It is a beautiful and simple prayer, and a perfect prayer to contemplate during Advent.”

Day Nine – Tuesday – December 7 – About liturgical colors and for the Jesse Tree, Joseph, Son of Jacob:

“Today the video is about liturgical colors, something my children are always interested in because it is visual, symbolic, and they can learn it easily.  It helps them to understand the meaning of the season before they can even understand the meaning of words like “penitential.””

Day Ten – Wednesday – December 8 – On the Immaculate Conception of Mary and for the Jesse Tree, Moses:

“There is one way in which Mary is not just like any other woman: she was conceived without Original Sin. She is a human person, just like the rest of us, except that we are all conceived with Original Sin.  She was protected from Original Sin as a way to prepare her to be the Mother of God.”

Day Eleven – Thursday – December 9 – On Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego and for the Jesse Tree, Moses (continued):

“Today is a great feast day for Saint Juan Diego, the man who saw Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our first video gives you the basics about her miraculous appearances to St Juan Diego, a Mexican Indian, nearly 500 years ago…” (go to the page for the day to read more!)

Day Twelve – Friday – December 10 – Some ideas on what to do for Gaudate Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent), and for the Jesse Tree, Samuel:

“This third Sunday is called “Gaudete Sunday.”  “Gaudete” means rejoice, so this is the Sunday when we can lighten up a little on the penitential aspect of Advent and rejoice that the Savior of the World is almost here…If your children have been doing some sacrifices, they can really feel the difference today if you do some fun Christmas preparation.

Need some ideas?  Here’s one: We often invite friends over to play and sing songs, and the older girls like to make this “Christmas cookie baking day” with their friends.” (video in today’s lesson)

Day Thirteen – Saturday – December 11 – Looking at the life of St Lucy, Gaudate Sunday, and for the Jesse Tree, Jesse:

“Today the video is about St. Lucy. We also mention “Gaudete Sunday” and a bit about this Sunday’s Gospel, which again centers on John the Baptist. Let me comment a bit on both the above.

First, John’s baptism is different from the sacrament instituted by Christ, which we are heirs of today. Ask your older kids—in light of the Immaculate Conception video—how our current baptism is different from John’s.” (Go to link for more)

Day Fourteen – Monday – December 13 – A little history about the Nativity, and for the Jesse Tree, David:

“Today the video is about the Nativity or manger scene. Our son is going to show all the different parts of our Nativity dressed as St. Francis, because he is the Saint who popularized the Nativity.”

Day Fifteen – Tuesday – December 14 – A look at the Three Kings, and for the Jesse Tree, Solomon:

“It was a star that led them (the wise men), and while that in itself is miraculous, it is a physical thing.  While our children have never seen a real angel, they have seen a star.  And the gifts they brought were physical things, too, which we may not have seen—but we can.”

Day Sixteen – Wednesday – December 15 – What are the ‘O’ Antiphons, and for the Jesse Tree, Elijah:

“During the last seven days of Advent the antiphons are called the “Great O Antiphons,” because they each begin with the exclamation “O” and then a plea for the Messiah to come. Each “O Antiphon” invokes the coming of Christ by titles derived from Old Testament prophecies.” Click the link for more interesting information.

Day Seventeen – Thursday – December 16 – What gift should I give to Jesus?, and for the Jesse Tree, Elisha:

“Today our Advent Adventure video is about giving a gift to Jesus for Christmas.  After all, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Since love is shown by actions, I try to encourage my children to give something to Jesus that will really help them develop their character, but also something they can actually complete for a set period of time.”

Day Eighteen – Friday – December 17 – the Blessing of a Christmas Tree, and for the Jesse Tree, Isaiah:

“When we arrange the gifts around the Christmas tree, the tree becomes a symbol of the Tree of Life, a figure of Christ, God’s greatest gift to all man.” P. John Paul II By blessing the tree, it ceases to be a pagan symbol, but a symbol of Christ.

Day Nineteen – Saturday – December 18 – the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, and for the Jesse Tree, Jeremiah:

“Because at Mass tomorrow (Sunday), you’ll hear what by now is a familiar story: the Visitation as recorded by St Luke. I hope your children recognize it and relish it, whether it is something new they’ve learned this Advent or something they are seeing new insights into.”

Day Twenty – Monday – December 20 – what are the 12 Days of Christmas, and for the Jesse Tree, Zechariah and Elizabeth:

“For Catholics, Christmas begins the night of Christmas Eve and continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when Jesus’ public ministry begins.  (Yes, when you count all the days up, that’s more than 12 days!)” Click the link to find out more.

Day Twenty-One – Tuesday – December 21 – The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Annunciation:

“Today the Jesse Tree video is about the Annunciation and the Visitation.  We are almost finished with Advent!  Just a couple more days.  Remember that the celebration of Christmas begins on Christmas and continues until the Baptism of our Lord.”

Day Twenty-Two – Wednesday – December 22 – For the Jesse Tree: St Joseph

“St Joseph played an extremely important part in not just the Christmas story, but also the life of Christ…We tend to project modern times with our (unfortunate) norms of engagement and marriage onto this story…”

Day Twenty-Three – Thursday – December 23 – Feast Days of the Christmas Season, and for the Jesse Tree: Angels:

Here are the feast days of the Christmas season:

* Octave of Christmas: Dec 25 – Jan 1 —every day is celebrated as a Solemnity! It’s all just like Christmas Day!

* Dec 26: Feast of the Holy Family.

* Dec 27: Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.

* Dec 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs.

* Jan 1: Octave of Christmas – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Holy Day of Obligation).

* Jan 2: Epiphany celebrated in the United States (Epiphany traditionally is Jan 6, after the 12 Days of Christmas).

* Jan 3: Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

* Jan 9: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (end of the Christmas season).

Day Twenty-Four – December 24 (Christmas Eve) – The Nativity:

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

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Also, there are a lot of other catechetical resources at the site, including a daily rosary: you can click the green arrow and participate in the daily rosary with the children.

As we enter into this season of wonder, let us pray our children come to know the deep reason for the gift giving is because of the eternal gift we have in our Lord Jesus.