Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Merry Christmas!

I'm writing this Christmas afternoon from the downstairs family room of the steady's parents' home on the Lake of the Woods in northeastern Indiana (near the towns of Hudson and Ashley).  We are in the midst of a mid-day rest before more family arrives in a few hours for dinner and gift-opening.

Like last year, it's been an ecumenical Christmas.  Last night, we went to the 11 p.m. cantata at the First United Methodist Church in Auburn, IN.  And, this morning, we went to the 9 a.m. Mass at Saint Mary of the Angels, a tiny Catholic church a short drive "just down the road."

Perhaps many people will remember Christmas 2012 in association with the awful tragedy that occurred earlier this month in Newtown, Connecticut.  I pray that the people of Newtown, especially the loved ones of the adults and children who were killed, are someday able to again regain peace of heart and mind.

In prayer:

"May your Presence, Prince of Peace,
bless the world with peace
the poor with care and prosperity,
the despairing with hope and confidence,
the grieving with comfort and gladness,
the oppressed with freedom and deliverance,
the suffering with solace and relief."

The image above is "Adoration of the Shepherds" created in 1831-1832 by Johann Michael Wittmer (1802-1880). It is the property of the Bavarian State Picture Collections in Munich, Germany.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


For many Catholics, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will be on the brain frequently during the next five days.

Today (December 8), Catholics observe the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this day, we recall that God was preparing Mary to be the mother of Jesus even from her own creation in the womb. It's a reminder to us that God is preparing us for great things, too.

On Wednesday (December 12), the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- the appearance of Mary in 1531 in Mexico to Saint Juan Diego.  Long one of the great days of the year for the Church in Mexico, this feast is now widely observed in the United States as well.

In all of human history, few (if any) individuals have been more frequently depicted in paintings and sculpture than Mary.  And, after working in Catholic publishing for nearly six years, I've seen many of these renderings.  But, this photo of a sculpture of Mary and child did recently catch my eye: 

I love the statue's simplicity and the way it fits so easily into this modern chapel in southern California.

The statue is a fine representation of the Church's understanding that Mary's role is bring Jesus forward.  It aligns well with the Orthodox and Eastern title of Mary: Theotokos or "God-bearer." 

This photo is by Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP.

Flashback: "Bookends"