The Narrative Behind the Nativity Scene

Holy Family Nativity

When I was a little girl, my mom, grandma, and aunt attended a weekly ceramics class at a studio located in the basement of a woman’s home. The studio provided the space, materials, equipment, and a few helpful artistic suggestions along the way. Given she was a young stay-at-home mom to three children, the classes provided my mom with a welcome respite and outlet to share her creative gifts. The weekly outings also allowed her to have special time with my grandma and aunt. After class, they … [Read more...]

Does Your Parish Celebrate Bambinelli Sunday?

Bambinelli Sunday

Each year on the Third Sunday of Advent children gather with their families in St. Peter's Square in Rome for "Bambinelli Sunday." It's an Italian Catholic family tradition in which handcrafted babies or "bambinelli" destined to represent the Christ child in the family's Nativity scene are blessed by the pope. The charming new children's book Bambinelli Sunday: A Christmas Blessing by Amy Welborn tells the story of one little boy, Alessandro, and his journey to St. Peter's Square to have his … [Read more...]

Two Takes on Christmas: Chesterton and Rembrandt

Adoration of the shepherds

The House of Christmas by Gilbert Keith Chesterton  There fared a mother driven forth Out of an inn to roam; In the place where she was homeless All men are at home. The crazy stable close at hand, With shaking timber and shifting sand, Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand Than the square stones of Rome. For men are homesick in their homes, And strangers under the sun, And they lay on their heads in a foreign land Whenever the day is done. Here we have battle and blazing … [Read more...]

Advent Photo of the Day

Advent Calendar

A Wordless Witness? A friend recently shared this "Seven Advent Smartphone Tips" YouTube video by Fr. Roderick Vonhögen. It's a quick 3-minute video with some great suggestions for how to live out and share Advent using some of the tech tools of our time.  One particularly creative and simple suggestion is to take a daily Advent photo and post it to your social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. When you post the picture, also include a short Advent thought. National … [Read more...]

Keep Christ in Christmas by Celebrating Advent

St. Nicholas: The Story of the Real Santa Claus

Take back Christmas by preparing your heart to receive Christ. The commercialization of Christmas has hit a new low. Last year, Dr. Pia de Solenni joked about the possibility of trick-or-treaters receiving candy canes. This year, it actually happened to our daughter; first stop, no less! Should I really be surprised? For my part, I recently received my first say-Merry-Christmas-not-happy-holidays email forward, assuring me the “Keep the Christ in Christmas” movement is still alive and … [Read more...]

The Feast of the Holy Innocents

Feast of the Holy Innocents

The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless, they follow the lamb and sing forever: Glory to you, O Lord.Today the Church remembers the Holy Innocents, the male children executed because of Herod's fury to find the Christ child. Herod, fearing for his throne after the Magi told him of the birth of Jesus, ordered the massacre of all Bethlehem boys age two and under hoping that Jesus would be among those killed (Matthew 2:1-18). According to Matthew, this fulfilled a prophecy of … [Read more...]

7 Quick Takes: Merry Christmas from Around the World

German_Nativity

As we near the end of a calendar year and reflect on this year's faith journey, one thing stands out for us: the Catholic Church is truly universal. We met Catholics from other parts of the world, traveled on a four-country pilgrimage (Italy, Vatican, Greece & Turkey), and became good friends with a Kenyan priest assigned at a local parish. In honor of this universality, we present Christmas around the world with a glance at seven Nativities, a most expressive expression of Christmas, and a … [Read more...]

Occupy Advent

The Nativity

Take back Christmas by preparing your heart to receive Christ. Like homecoming weekend in a college town, there are currently no vacancies. Everything, it seems, is occupied. Occupy Wall Street. Occupy San Francisco. Occupy DC. Begun as Occupy Dataran in Kuala Lumpur in late July, the Occupy movement has spread around globe like wildfire in just over three months. “The 99%” seem intent on taking back financial and government institutions that have apparently been corrupted by the minority … [Read more...]