And the Light shines in the darkness…

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O Holy Night….words so precious, so sublime that it seems they must be whispered.  Jesus has come!  The Light has come into the world.  The Son of God has been born, and nothing will ever be the same.

I give thanks to the Lord with all of my heart that I was chosen to live after the coming of Jesus.  I cannot imagine a world without Jesus; a life without the sweet and consoling Presence of His Love.

He is truly the Light of the world.  How dark those places are where He is shut out, where His Beauty, Truth and Love are unknown or rejected.

Imagine….living in the era before the birth of Jesus.  How hopeless life must have seemed, for Jesus is our Hope, our Joy, our Everything!

O Heavenly Father, thank You for the Gift of Your Son, Whose birth we celebrate on this Holy Night.  We are astonished that Your Love would deign to send Him to us, to live among us, to give His Life that we might have eternal life.  Jesus, the inestimable Gift!

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness grasped it not.

It was the true light that enlightens every man who comes into the world.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.  And we saw his glory…glory as of the only-begotten of the Father..full of grace and of truth.

(John 1: 4, 9, 14)

(from the archives)

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A lullaby for Jesus…

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Hello again! I’ve been absent from my blog for several weeks for the loveliest of reasons. My family and I were blessed to spend a few weeks in Italy during the Christmas season. We returned about a week ago, and I’ve been trying to catch up at home, as well as adjust to the time change. I don’t do the latter very well, and suddenly get overwhelmed by sleep at the most inconvenient times. I’m doing better now though.

I had hoped to tell you all about our Christmas in Italy, and to share some of their customs, etc. But, since I was busy sleeping ;), I didn’t get it done in time. Now we are past the Christmas season, so maybe I will share my memories next year.

But, I thought it would be okay to mention one sweet surprise that occurred at midnight Mass in a beautiful little church near the Vatican. Well, actually it was one great gift and then the sweet surprise.

We arrived at the church about 10:45pm, hoping to get seats. Well, it wasn’t crowded at all, so we easily found places across from a statue of Our Lady of Fatima which had the most beautiful smile I have ever seen on a statue of Mary.

As we were getting settled in our pew, I noticed to my surprise and great joy that Eucharistic Adoration was underway. So, in this silent church, in a darkness illuminated only by flickering trays of candles in front of the side chapels lining both sides of the walls, we knelt in adoration of the King of kings whose birth we were preparing to celebrate.

“What a perfect way to welcome Him,” I thought.

At midnight, soft lights were turned on, and as the priest celebrant carried the image of the Infant Jesus down the aisle to lay him in the crèche, the congregation began to sing…not a Christmas carol, but a lullaby. Softly and sweetly, they sang in Italian. But it was a familiar melody, so I was able to sing along in English, a lullaby I had often sung to my own baby son.  Surely, Mary had sung lullabies to the newborn Son of God…her Son.

So there is a glimpse of my Christmas.  I hope that yours was most blessed and beautiful too!

Lullaby and goodnight, go to sleep now and sleep tight, sweet Baby Jesus….

From my house to yours…Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends, wish that we could visit for real, but since we can’t, I’m sharing a bit of my Christmas with you…

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We love this painting by Diana Mendoza, and keep it on the mantel all year long, but it makes a great Christmas decoration as well!

Christmas2012 026 I didn’t have time to make my crèche very elaborate this year. Sometimes I stack boxes covered with “snow” and make different levels surrounding the stable. I also like to add greenery, and lots of miniature birds (I used to collect them.) Often I will hang all the angel ornaments right above the crib…but this year, it was very simple.
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I love the curly blond hair and “comfy” smile on the face of the Child Jesus on this statue…and the tenderness of Mary, as she gazes upon her little Son.

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My husband and I bought this tinsel star on our first Christmas together. We couldn’t afford much, and we found it for two dollars in the discount bin at a Winn Dixie market. We have enjoyed much prettier trees, and collected some beautiful ornaments throughout decades of Christmases together. But we have never replaced our tinsel star. Each year when we unpack it, it’s like welcoming an old friend, one that has been with us through good times and bad, and has shone on both Christmas laughter and Christmas tears. And, I like having something so simple and inexpensive to remind me of the poverty of that First Christmas.

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Years ago, when my son grew up, I began replacing the ornaments of his childhood with religiously themed ornaments…like Madonna and Child, angels, crosses, etc.  Probably half of our ornaments are now of this genre.  This makes me especially happy in this era of such secularization of Christmas.

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Benedict and me, relaxing by the fire on one of the very few cold nights we have had this winter. Yes, there really is a fire in front of us…trust me 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS, DEAR FRIENDS! AND A MOST BLESSED NEW YEAR TO COME!

Light of the world…..

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 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men: and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave great power to become the sons of God: to them that believe in His name: who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Christmas along the way….

 

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 My husband and I recently spent ten days in mid-December visiting friends in North Carolina.  On our journey, I found glimpses of Christmas, and I want to share these three with you:

Enroute

The first thing I noticed was the rain, a slow drizzle falling from a gloomy sky.  Sitting near the window at the boarding gate in Atlanta’s airport, I stared out at our waiting plane.  Then I noticed him…a soldier in  Army dress, standing in the rain near the plane’s loading door.  And I knew. 

A few moments later, the pilot walked up and spoke briefly to the solider. Then I saw it. A flag draped coffin was slowly and carefully brought forward while the soldier snapped to attention and saluted, as did the pilot. And it rained on them and the coffin, which slowly disappeared into the bowels of the plane.

Once everyone had boarded, the pilot came out to address the passengers. He explained that our plane was privlieged to bring a fallen hero home to his family in Raleigh, NC. Then he introduced the young soldier I had seen, explaining that he was the “best buddy” of the deceased. Finally, he explained that we would have to wait on the plane while the escort soldier exited and went down to receive the casket.

The passengers broke into applause. There were no complaints as we quietly waited until we were free to deplane. As we walked toward  baggage claim, I noticed people gathering at the windows overlooking our plane. We had been told there would be a brief military service there, and that our baggage would be delayed until it was completed.

I felt gratified to know that our fallen soldiers were treated with the respect and gratitude that they deserve. And yes, we all waited again, an extra 15 minutes or so for our baggage.

And I thought of the family whose wait was over. The family out there in the dark night, receiving their son home at last. And I thought of their Christmas tears…like the rain.

Christmas at the Cross.

 

Destination

It was late when we drove into Greenville, NC, so we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed directly to the 6pm Mass. We knew ahead of time that it would be a youth choir with guitars and keyboard, but they were actually good, so I didn’t really mind.

We sat behind a young couple who had an infant son, not more than two months old. He was dressed all in green, and wearing what appeared to be a handmade crocheted cap. As usual when seated near children, my eyes kept wandering over to him. I thought of this lovely young couple soon to celebrate their first Christmas with their baby. Remembering our first Christmas with our son, I felt happy anticipation for them.

After receiving Our Lord, I knelt behind the young mother who was now seated and rocking her son gently in her arms. She had removed his cap, and his soft brown hair was visible. The choir began singing the thanksgiving song after Holy Communion: Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

And I found myself carried back to that night so long ago, when another Mother cradled her Infant Son. Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

I wondered it the young mom before me was struck by her identity with Mary, as mother loving son…so touchingly portrayed in the lyrics of this song. To me, the young mom and her baby were an icon which drew me into a tender glimpse of Christmas….
Mary, did you know…that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

Christmas in Bethlehem.

 

Returning Home

The woman seated to my husband’s left on the plane noticed when I reached into my purse for the aspirin bottle.

“Well, you won’t get a blood clot while flying, will you?”

I laughed and told her that I actually had a headache, and never worried about blood clots since I was always taking aspirin.

We exchanged a few other pleasant words, and then the plane began to land.  As I gathered my things and prepared to enter the aisle, I wished her a Merry Christmas. 

“We celebrate Yule,” she told me.  Seeing my surprise, she explained further, “Winter Solstice.  We celebrate on the 22nd.”

“Oh, well have fun,”  I said, like an idiot. 

 But I prayed for this lady as I exited the plane.  And I have prayed for her since, and will pray for her each time the Lord brings her to mind.  I will especially pray for her at Mass on Christmas.  I believe God puts such people in my path and yours, just to gather prayers for them.  He is so Merciful!  I hope that this lady will one day find her Savior. 

Would you say a prayer for her too?

Jesus, it was for such as this woman that you were born…for all of us who are lost or who have been lost, that Your Love might find and save us.   She, most of all, reminded me why You came.  You are Savior!  May You be forever praised!

Christmas hope…..