To Christmas and Easter Catholics

Some of you reading this may not be regulars around the altar on Sundays. And when you get there this Christmas, you may feel underdressed or confused by responses that don’t feel familiar. You may feel crowded and out of place. There may even be people at Mass who deliberately make you feel unwelcome. I’m so sorry if coming home makes you feel even more alone. Since I can’t be at every parish this Sunday, I’m going to tell you what I’d say to you if I met you outside the church or had a chance to speak from a pulpit knowing that you hadn’t been to Mass in a while.

12401021_1027549963932712_1339430546719916337_nWelcome, friends! I am thrilled that you’re here. Really–whatever you’re wearing, whatever ink and piercings you’ve got, however long it’s been, whatever brought you here and whoever you’re with, I’m delighted!

You see, you’re the reason we’re here. Truly. The very reason Christmas exists, the reason this church exists, is that the God who made you was desperate to save you. He wanted more than anything to know you and be known by you. Not y’all, but you–just you. And so he came.

But he knew that some of you would feel ashamed of your weakness. So he became weak. He knew that some would feel judged. So he was born under shadow of scandal. He knew that some would feel unwelcome. So he was turned away from the inn. You are not an afterthought. You’re the reason for the season. Oh, Jesus is the reason for the season. We all know that. But you are the reason the Christ child was born 2000 years ago–to seek and save the lost.

So of course I’m excited to see you! Because as glad as I am that you’re here, nothing could match the joy that the Father takes in seeing you here tonight. Heaven is rejoicing right now because you’ve come home.

I know some of you have been away for a long time. It doesn’t matter. This is still your home. Maybe life just got busy and you drifted away; I get that. Maybe there’s some teaching of the Church that you don’t feel you can accept; believe me, I’ve been there. Maybe you’ve suffered too much to believe in a loving God; you are not alone. Whatever’s kept you away, the Lord is inviting you tonight: let this Christmas be the beginning of a new life. Come home.

But I know there are others among us tonight who’ve been hurt, terribly hurt by the Church or her representatives. And I want to speak to you right now:

I am so sorry.

Whatever was done to you, whatever was said, however you were attacked or ignored, I am so sorry. On behalf of Christ’s Church, I beg your forgiveness. You did not deserve to be hurt and the Lord wept with you. But please don’t let the sins of fallen people keep you from the endless love of the Father. This is always your home. Come home.

Now you may not be aware, but we do this every week. True story–every Sunday, same time, same place. We won’t look as nice and the music might not be as good, but the same God comes down in the Eucharist, handing himself over for you again just as he did that first Christmas, and we’d love it if you’d join us.

When we come to that part of Mass tonight, to communion, I want to invite everyone here to ask yourself if you’re ready to give yourself completely to him. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been to Mass, maybe you’ve got some serious sin on your heart, maybe you haven’t been to confession in a long time–regulars and visitors, if you’re not prepared to receive him, we’re going to ask you to stay in your pew and pray with your whole heart that the Lord would come into your life and transform you. It’s called a spiritual communion and it’s incredibly powerful.1 But whether you’re coming up or staying where you are, there is no judgment. We’re all just rejoicing that you’ve come home.

You may not remember the words to some of the prayers, or you may not have been here since we got our new translation. There’s no judgment–we’re all just glad you’re here. So sing along to the familiar hymns and let the sights and smells remind you that you belong here. Christmas is a celebration of a God who came down to save those who had wandered from him. It’s your feast day. Joy to the world and welcome home.

  1. In some churches, it’s customary to receive a blessing if you’re not receiving communion. In those churches, I’d say, “We’re going to ask you to come forward to receive a blessing instead.” []

Nothing to Offer

Once upon a time there was a village that was just like every other village, but not in every way. Like everywhere else, there were wonderful people and also people who weren’t always wonderful. Like everywhere else, there were hard-working people and not-so-hard-working people. Like everywhere else there were school days and holidays and everyone wished there were fewer of the one and more of the other.

But unlike everywhere else, this little village had a great big king, king over all the other villages and towns and even cities, who came and walked in its streets. He wasn’t a usual sort of king, fancy and important on his faraway throne. No, this king knew his people. He could tell when Agata had let her bread rise longer than usual and when Polly’s tooth was hurting. He brought Frankie scraps to feed to his dog and always seemed to have a new color of paint for Angelo to try. Hardly a day went by that he couldn’t be seen playing dice with Matt or reading with Catherine.

And of course, the villagers loved their king—when they weren’t too busy for him, that is. Because even a king can become commonplace if he’s always around. So while most of the children could be seen running to him every time he strolled down the lane, many of the adults kept about their business, glancing up when he greeted them and murmuring a few words in appreciation of the gifts he’d brought them and their children. Most of them, it seems, took their king for granted.

But not all the time. Every year, as the ground began to freeze and the skies seemed to be gray more often than they were blue, the villagers’ thoughts would turn to their king. His birthday fell in the deep of winter and it was the custom in that place for each of the villagers to take him a gift, given straight into his own hands at the feast that celebrated his birth. It was a very solemn occasion, a time for best clothes and best manners with best gifts on display.

And there amid all the good and better and best was Cora. Cora lived in a small house at the edge of town, one of those homes that never had quite enough wood for the fire or potatoes for the pot. There was more yelling than was quite pleasant and it wouldn’t be fair to blame it all on the adults who lived there. Certainly they would have done well to speak more sweetly, but little Cora did quite a lot of yelling herself. Often she could be seen with her face, smudged with day-old dirt, screwed up in a scowl, walking down the lane kicking at stones and small children. Cora had a temper, and even her gentle king had felt her wrath when he’d crossed her path at the wrong time.

But Cora wasn’t all bad. And as the air turned chill and the first flakes began to fall from the heavy sky, Cora’s mind turned to the king’s birthday just like everyone else’s. The trouble was, she had nothing to give.

“Why don’t you write him a song?” asked little David, trying out a few notes on the flute the king had given him that spring.

“I don’t know how,” muttered Cora, wishing she could sing like David.

“I’m making him a painting,” Angelo said. “Why don’t you do something with the colored pencils he gave you?”

“I broke them when I couldn’t get my pictures to look right.”

When Cora walked past the well, Teresa was practicing her pirouettes. “I do think the king is going to love my dance. Probably best of all his gifts. Are you going to dance for him?”

But Cora had worn her dancing shoes to jump in mud puddles and they were quite ruined.

John was going to juggle, but whenever Cora tried she ended up throwing his balls into a ditch in frustration. Tom was writing a list of his favorite things about the king but Cora was sure her writing was too ugly. Clara was hard at work embroidering for the king but Cora’s just turned into a knotted mess.

“Just tell him how much you love him,” Cora’s grandmother suggested.

“That won’t be enough! I have nothing I can give him. Nothing at all! And everyone else will do something lovely and I’ll just stand there looking stupid. I hate this.”

As the days got shorter, the villagers spent more and more time perfecting their gifts. Bread was baked, wood whittled, and heads held high as projects turned out just as planned, until finally the day arrived. Children’s faces were scrubbed to shining before they were marched in their Sunday best to the palace. And when everyone was gathered, the ceremony began. One by one, the villagers walked forward to present their gifts to the king. Seated on his throne with his mother beside him, the king smiled with real pleasure as he saw the handiwork of his friends.

The village children stood tall and proud as they waited their turn—all but Cora, who shrank down in the crowd, hoping to be passed over. Finally, the king’s steward called out, “Are there any more gifts to be offered?” Silence, as Cora crossed all of her fingers and stared at the ground. Then:

“Cora. Dear heart, I don’t think you’ve had a chance yet.” It was the king’s mother, looking down at her with gentle, hopeful eyes. Cora couldn’t hide any more, so she dragged herself up to the front and pulled out a worn cardboard box.

“Here,” she muttered, and put it in the king’s hands before turning to walk away as quickly as she could.

“Well, wait a moment!” he laughed. “I want to see what’s inside.”

A sick feeling crept into Cora’s stomach as she turned to wait for what would surely be the worst moment of her life. The queen mother’s sudden gasp was all Cora needed to start her tears rolling, and the murmurs and snickers of the crowd only made it worse.

“Muddy dancing slippers? Whyever would he want those?”

“What is that charred mess? Is it a half-burned book?”

“Oh, dear, the stupid thing has given him an old dead flower. What was she thinking?”

Cora stood there alone, feeling as ugly and foolish as ever a child has felt, until she heard her king silence his people.

“Hush,” he said, as soft as it was stern. “Cora, love, come here.”

Slowly, sullenly, Cora stepped from the disdainful crowd, ready to be ridiculed by the king, too.

“Look at me, dearest.” Pulling her eyes away from their safe spot on her feet, she looked at her king and saw no anger in his eyes, not even amusement. There were tears there, though Cora couldn’t think why. “What is all this?”

“It’s everything. It’s the pieces of the bowl I broke and the book I threw in the fire when I couldn’t read all the words. I knew you wanted me to learn to dance but I couldn’t dance for you because I ruined my shoes playing in the mud, so I put those in, too. I would have given you back the ring you gave me but I traded it to Colette so she’d do my chores for me for a week.”

“And the rose?”

“I stole it.” Cora’s voice was so soft only the king and his mother could hear. “I stole it from your garden and I wanted to give it back.”

“Oh, Cora. Cora, it’s beautiful.”

“What? The rose?” Cora felt sure she must have heard wrong.

“All of it. It’s the most beautiful gift of them all. You see, everyone else gave me something lovely, and I was very pleased by the cakes and books and poems and such. But you gave me your heart. You had nothing to give and so you gave me your nothingness. I love it.”

Cora’s heart thrilled to hear the king’s words, but she couldn’t understand them. How could he like her gift of ugly brokenness? No, he was just being kind. Cora managed half a smile before disappearing back into the crowd. She pushed past her curious neighbors, all asking what the king had said and why she hadn’t found something better, until she found a door that led her outside. Cora pulled her shawl tight around her shoulders, sat against the wall, and wondered. “You gave me your heart,” he had said. What did he mean?

She was still thinking some time later, her teeth chattering and her fingers blue with cold, when she heard a familiar voice call her name. Looking up, she saw the king and wondered how he’d managed to sneak away from the crowds.

“Cora, come with me. I have something to show you.” He took her hand and led her through a gate she hadn’t noticed, down passageway after passageway, until they found themselves in a long hall.

“Look,” the king said, and led her to the far wall.

2014-10-22 16.40.00There, Cora saw her village, not as it was but as it should be, without ruts in the lanes or broken fence posts. The flowers were in bloom, the creek glistening, and the faces radiant. As Cora approached, she saw that the image was made of a thousand little things—scraps of fabric, bits of paper, stones, even—

“My bowl!” Cora cried. “Those pieces in the creek—the shiny blue bits. Those are from my broken bowl!”

“They are,” the king agreed.

“And there, that book lying open on the bench. That has pages from my burnt book!”

“It does.”


“I make ugly things new. I make broken things beautiful. Everything you offer me, even the ugly and broken—especially the ugly and broken—can become something beautiful.”

“But everyone laughed. They said it was stupid!”

“They don’t know, Cora. They don’t know that my power is made perfect in weakness. They don’t understand that the most beautiful thing they can offer me is their hearts, even when it seems there’s nothing there to give.”

“But you haven’t used it all, have you? Where’s my rose?”

“I haven’t used that yet. Maybe one day I’ll show you where I put it. But you don’t need to know how I use it, do you? Isn’t it enough to know that I will?”

“I guess so. And my muddy shoes?”

“Ah, those are in the palace treasury.”

Cora’s heart sank again. She knew not everything could be made right. “The palace trash heap? I guess that’s only fair.”

“No, dearest, not the trash heap. The treasury! Those I will not use. I want to keep them. They are very dear to me because I know how much it cost you to give them. You will have new dancing shoes again—some day—but those shoes will stay here. And every time I see them I will be grateful once again that you gave them to me.”

“Even though they’re dirty and ugly?”

Because they’re dirty and ugly. I am, you know, in the business of making things new.”

After that day, Cora’s life was different. Except when it wasn’t. Some years she had a lovely gift to offer the king. Other years she brought a box of brokenness. And either way, the king smiled. Because, as it turned out, he didn’t want Cora’s gift. He wanted her heart. And Cora was glad to give it to him.

15 Ways to Keep Christmas in Christmas

Batman ChristmasA very well-meaning person wished me a “belated merry Christmas” the other day. Now, I hate to be pedantic1 but there’s nothing belated about Christmas wishes right now unless you’re talking about last Christmas. I’m sure you all know this, but Christmas has only just begun. In fact, it’s still Christmas day until tomorrow night!2 The octave of Christmas is an eight-day celebration of Christmas day, complete with the Gloria at every Mass and the same psalms in the Office for over a week. Then the season continues past Epiphany (even the Twelve Days of Christmas aren’t enough for us Catholic party animals) until Ordinary Time begins with the Baptism of the Lord (this year, January 12). If you like, you can even go old-school and stretch it to February 2nd for the more traditional Christmas feasting. That gives you at least another week and a half of Christmas, friends, and as much as another month–let’s live it up!

But the Christmas carols went off the air before the 25th was even over. Christmas merchandise is 70% off by now and if you tell people you’re taking a Christmas vacation until mid-January, they’ll think you’re nuts. How do we keep Christmas alive in this world of post-12/25 Scrooges? As always, I’ve got a few thoughts.

  1. Wish everyone a merry Christmas. When they (inevitably) tell you you’re “a little late,” just say cheerfully, “Actually, Christmas doesn’t end until January 12th this year!” Who knows? Maybe it’ll give you an opportunity to witness a little.
  2. Especially keep your nativity sets up! This beautiful (and reasonably-priced) children's set is going to be available soon, along with any Saint you can imagine, on wooden blocks perfect for play. I'll tell you guys all about it soon!
    Especially keep your nativity sets up! How beautiful is this one?

    Keep your Christmas decorations up. When people (inevitably) point out that you’re “a little behind”…see above.

  3. Celebrate Epiphany with a party and king cake and crowns and a rousing rendition of We Three Kings. “Little Christmas” should be a big deal.
  4. Spend some time at a nursing home or helping at a soup kitchen–anywhere they had tons of volunteers last week but are wanting for help after the holiday glow has worn off. That made-for-TV “Spirit of Christmas” you’ve been hearing so much about is, in fact, the Holy Spirit and he prompts you to do works of mercy all year round.
  5. Keep listening to Christmas music. But don’t just listen to it–really meditate on the power of some of those hymns. Try “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” (especially verses 4 and 5), “What Child is This” (verse 2 breaks me every time) and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for starters.
  6. Read a book about the Christ Child, the Blessed Mother, or St. Joseph. Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives is a great choice while Caryll Houselander’s The Reed of God is much my favorite about the Blessed Mother.
  7. Buy all the discounted white-chocolate-peppermint candy. Eat “birthday cake” after (or for) every meal. Go out to dinner in your tacky Christmas sweater. Feast!
  8. Send out your Christmas cards really, really late. Point out in your letter that your “late” cards are liturgically appropriate while all those overachievers are practically heretics–Christmas cards in Advent? I mean, really!3
  9. Ask parents of young children if you can bring dinner over one evening and/or watch the kids while they go out. If you’re really brave, offer to take the kids out during the day so the parents can nap. Think of it as a favor to the Holy Family.
  10. Keep the Mass in Christmas–add an extra Mass each week to wish Jesus a happy birthday. While you’re at it, throw in a rosary (joyful mysteries, of course) to honor Mary and meditate more on the Incarnation.
  11. Volunteer with an organization that serves homeless families or immigrants. Remember that from the slaughter of the innocents until his return to Nazareth, Jesus was a homeless refugee.
  12. Pretty much all we do around here is pretend to be Jesus and Mary (or the dolphins in the "Bethwehem water!") or play with nativity sets.
    Pretty much all we do around here is pretend to be Jesus and Mary (or the dolphins in the “Bethwehem water!”) or play with nativity sets.

    Spend time playing with your children and their nativity sets. Today, I watched my 2-year-old niece put St. Joseph down for a nap. Then the angel came and woke him: “Joseph! Joseph! FWEEE!!!”4 My nephew keeps gasping and wishing various babies Jesus a breathless “Happy birthday!” These kids know it’s Christmas.

  13. Use social media to share some quotations from Saints and popes on Christmas and the Christ Child. If you’re at a loss, try the Office of Readings–it’s full of them. Or visit Christina over at The Evangelista for beautiful images and meditations.
  14. Have family prayer time that focuses on the infant Jesus. Kneel before your nativity set, let your children hold the baby Jesus, sing Christmas carols, read parts of the Christmas story and discuss how you would have felt in different people’s positions, and find prayers to the Holy Infant. The longer you celebrate Christ and Christmas, the more your child’s happy memories of childhood will be tied to a joyful, lived faith.
  15. Host a Christmas party on January 11th. Seriously, I would be your best friend.

How else will you keep the Christmas in Christmas this season? I’d love to hear your season-long traditions!

Happy New Year, friends, but mostly MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

  1. This is patently untrue. I am a hopeless pedant. []
  2. When I grow up, I want to be such a big deal that the world celebrates my birthday for eight days every year. []
  3. I’m kidding. Don’t be a jerk. []
  4. That’s “flee” for those of you who don’t speak toddler. []

Recycling My Way Through Advent

I’m pretty much just keeping my head above water this Advent. I mean, emotionally I’m doing really well, and I may even write about why one of these days. (Long story short: 1 Corinthians 15:55) And I’m so grateful for all the support and especially the prayers y’all have been pouring my way. But when you add all the funeral planning and helping people process to traveling and speaking and then OH WAIT it’s almost Christmas better crochet all the presents—well, y’all aren’t gonna get a lot of blogging this Advent. But I did a lot last year, when many of you weren’t yet reading, so I thought maybe I’d point you over that way.

If you’re stressing about not chanting enough Latin or owning enough Nativity sets or cross-stitching your own Jesse Tree ornaments, here’s a reassurance: you’re doing it right.

If you haven’t yet bought all your Christmas presents (I’ve never yet bought all my presents before Christmas itself, let alone ten days out) and you’re looking for inspiration, I’ve got some recommendations for you:

Last year, I decided that on top of baby-wrangling and crocheting presents for everybody at the last minute, I should also write a reflection on each of the great Advent antiphons. It was a great exercise but it’s definitely not happening this year, so if you want to meditate on the antiphon each day, click back through to last year’s:

I hope your Advent is filled with silence and longing and undeserved joy. I hope you recognize your sin and the God who would stop at nothing to save you from it. I hope you run to the confessional and rest in the promise of Isaiah and listen to the deep theology in the Christmas hymns. Skip the presents and the baking if that’s what it takes–tell your family to blame me. Prepare for the Christ Child–and then celebrate till at least Epiphany. If it’s worth a month of preparation, it deserves at least two weeks of celebration, right? Happy Advent, friends. Be holy.


On Christmas morning,1 Father gave a homily that focused on the weakness of the infant Christ. Since I had custody of a 3-year-old and an infant at the time, I didn’t hear much, but I’ve been meditating on the weakness of the omnipotent one a lot since then.

I tend to focus on Christ’s weakness and poverty as a manifestation of his desperate love for us, that he was willing to suffer anything to be united to us. And certainly that’s true–he wanted to be like us in every way but sin2 and so he began with that most basic of human conditions: weakness. And yet I think there’s so much more than that to learn from a God who can’t hold up his head–in the manger or on the cross.

Now isn’t that just the prettiest vicious instrument of torture and execution you’ve ever seen? By the way, go shop at Hobby Lobby, especially this Saturday January 5th–they’re really fighting the good fight with this HHS business.

There’s something about the helpless baby Jesus that draws us, something about his very weakness that appeals to what is good in our humanity. We turn from Christ stripped and beaten, take him off our crucifixes or at least wash off the blood, but we can’t help but approach the little God-child in the manger. In his weakness, he calls to us as his strength never could.

You see, our God is terrifying. He’s anything but approachable. In the moment of the Fall, Adam and Eve saw God through the eyes of sin and hid from him. And in spite of everything God sent to our ancestors to draw them back to him, in spite of floods and plagues and prophets, in spite of the Song of Songs and the temple restored, still they hid. The only god worth worshiping is a God who holds galaxies in his hands, a God who rends mountains and smites nations. But who would dare love that God? So the Israelites did what was logical–they worshiped the true God with incense and sacrifices and then went home to pour their hearts out to their weak little household idols.

Because a god who can do nothing is at least a shoulder to cry on but a real God, one with real power? That’s not something to be trifled with.

Our God would not be distant from the hearts he so loved, though, and so he fought for us. The entire Old Testament is a history of God’s attempt at wooing man. But whatever he did, still we hid and cowered and held him at arm’s length. Despite our need for him, we ran from him.

Cicely Mary Barker: Madonna and Child
Cicely Mary Barker: Madonna and Child

And so the almighty, immortal, all-knowing God chose to need us. Not in any real sense of the word, of course. But he became that most needy of creatures: a human infant.3 Because we would not approach his majesty, he became supremely approachable in the form of a soft, sweet, chicken-legged little baby who needs to be held and rocked and loved. Through his weakness, he draws us to himself. We would not love him reigning in heaven, so he asks us to love him powerless on earth. Our beloved Holy Father spoke about this at Midnight Mass this year:4

Again and again it astonishes us that God makes himself a child so that we may love him, so that we may dare to love him, and as a child trustingly lets himself be taken into our arms. It is as if God were saying: I know that my glory frightens you, and that you are trying to assert yourself in the face of my grandeur. So now I am coming to you as a child, so that you can accept me and love me.

And in becoming weak to draw us close, he dignifies weakness. He teaches us that suffering and poverty and even shame have value and meaning. He teaches us that the weak are not despised by God who himself became weak.

Jesus loved the outcastsAnd if we are Christ-lovers, then we must become lovers of the weak, the scorned, the poor, the abused. We must love him in them not simply because he told us to (Mt 25) but because in the womb of the 13-year-old girl waiting for her bus with swollen ankles and a more swollen belly we see our Savior, threatened from the moment of his conception by a world that thought he had no right to exist. In the little boy whose daddy is being deported, we see our God in exile with no legal right to safety from the terrors of what should have been his home. In the little girl who’s three years behind in school, we see the Word illiterate, learning to read at his mother’s knee. In the losers and the freaks sitting alone in the cafeteria, we see Love rejected and despised. In the homeless, the unemployed, the terminally ill, the criminal we see Christ. And if we’re serious about this Jesus thing, we fight to love them not despite their weakness but because of it.

Still it gets harder–further up and further in, after all. We love God in his weakness and so we love people in their weakness and so we must love ourselves in our weakness as well. We refuse to be discouraged when we are lonely because, after all, Christ was lonely. We weep beside him, hunger beside him, long to be loved beside him. The God of power and might did what seemed impossible–became weak–not only to show his love or call out for ours, not only to dignify weakness or teach us how to love others. He shivered and cried and toddled and fell and lisped and stank and suffered and died in order that we might not grow weary and lose hope.5 To give us patience with ourselves, to remind us that he’s not done with us yet. Tonight, I am weak and a little discouraged. And maybe as the world makes lists of resolutions, what we need isn’t more gym memberships or book lists but the simple promise that when we fail, it will be okay.

God became weak for us. Maybe weakness isn’t something to be ashamed of after all.


If you’re in the Mobile, Alabama area, make sure to check out Vino and Values, a women’s evening with speaker Hallie Lord. Free wine, cheese, door prizes, fellowship, and a fabulous speaker–what’s not to like? (And if you’re not in Mobile, at least check out this great article by Hallie on how being hard is what makes marriage great.)

  1. Merry Christmas! It’s not Christmas day anymore, but it’s still Christmas. []
  2. Hebrews 4:15–did anybody hear me talking about Hebrews on the radio the other day? []
  3. Believe me–we’re dealing with two right now and we’re all just a little bit crazy from all their neediness. []
  4. Thanks to Christina for helping me find this quotation! []
  5. Hebrews again–12:3 this time. []

“Come Closer to Me”

Jessie Willcox Smith: Madonna and Child

Last night, I left my poor sister alone with the fussy twins because there is very little that can keep me from Midnight Mass. I knelt before Mass soaking in the last chapters of Isaiah. My soul was stilled as the Christmas Proclamation cut through the silence and my heart echoed with joy when the choir sang out “Adeste Fidelis.” I smiled as a little girl with leggings under her Christmas dress laid the baby Jesus in the manger and ached at the beauty of “What Child Is This.” I fell to my knees as I professed my faith in the incarnation and meditated on life as a pilgrim, an outsider conforming to the Center of all being who became an outcast for me.

And then I approached the altar. I bowed before Christ incarnate and went forward to receive my God. As usual, I closed my eyes and opened my mouth to receive the kiss of my Lord. As usual, his touch was gentle. And then I heard him say, “Come closer to me.”

Not a locution, though for a moment I thought it was. Father, having given me communion, was telling the altar server to move closer to him with the patten. But with my eyes closed and Jesus on my tongue, I heard it as I think the Lord intended it:

“I have come close to you. I have taken on flesh that you might know me more fully. I have embraced your weakness and your poverty. I have wept for your consolation, been stripped and beaten and killed that I might win back your heart. I have returned and come for you, waiting for you day and night, calling to you from the tabernacle. I have subjected myself to indignities beyond belief to be close to you. Now you, dear heart. Come closer to me.”

What a grace–this Christmas, I am praying that you and all those you love will be flooded with grace to come closer to Christ. Let us kneel at the manger and worship, kneel at the altar and receive. Merry Christmas, my friends.

Our Christmas in a nutshell: Cecilia is wearing the crown I made her and one snowflake mitten; I'm wearing her Blessed Virgin Mary veil and John Paul's crown. I told her to pose for a picture and she brought the baby Jesus rubber duck from their awesome rubber duck nativity and said, "Wet's kiss Baby Jesus." Yes, of course.
Our Christmas in a nutshell: Cecilia is wearing the crown I made her and one snowflake mitten; I’m wearing her Blessed Virgin Mary veil and John Paul’s crown. I told her to pose for a picture and she brought the baby Jesus rubber duck from their awesome rubber duck nativity and said, “Wet’s kiss Baby Jesus.” Yes, of course.