Claire's Photo of the Day: Christmas is "King"

Claire's picture of our "Christmas is Cooking" ornament helped remind me what Christmas is truly about...

Christmas is King

Bishop Hebda's 2011 Christmas Message

One of the Advent traditions for our children is placing a piece of straw in a manger when they do extra work, help one of their siblings, or give up something they really want or want to do. As the kids get older we have more and more straw each year and they get more excited about it.

In Bishop Hebda's Christmas Message he talks about a similar tradition...

Each year as Christmas approached, the Sisters would construct a nativity scene out of whatever discarded items they could find and this always included an empty box placed where we would normally put the manger. All during Advent, when no one else was looking, the individual Sisters would put a single piece of straw in the box, representing some act of charity that they had accomplished that day. By the time that the community gathered for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the box would inevitably be overflowing with straw signifying the anonymous works of charity that the Sisters had embraced to prepare for the coming of the Christ child.

I’ve often tried to emulate the Sisters’ Advent practice, but more often than not have found my manger lacking in straw. When I mentioned this to the Sisters, they suggested that I broaden the project, inserting a straw not only for each act of charity, but also for each instance of gratitude.

I might have to join the kids next year during Advent as we prepare for Christmas. As we celebrate the Christmas Season it's important to look back with gratitude on the many blessings of the past year and carry that into the new year. Merry Christmas!

Read Bishop Hebda's Christmas Message at The Diocese of Gaylord

Merry Christmas

Have a safe, fun, and blessed Christmas! Merry Christmas from The Steck Family!

The kids in their new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas

Have a safe, fun, and blessed Christmas! Merry Christmas from Good Saints!

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Claire's Photo of the Day: Christmas Cookies

Most of the cookies were put in the freezer, but I did get to eat a couple and they were delicious. The kids had a blast cutting and decorating and eating!

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has a very blessed Christmas!

How to Find Christmas Peace by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside, by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely, let Christ be formed in you. As she cooked meals in her Nazarene home, as she nursed her aged cousin, as she drew water at the well, as she prepared the meals of the village carpenter, as she knitted the seamless garment, as she kneaded the dough and swept the floor, she was conscious that Christ was in her; that she was a living Ciborium, a monstrance of the Divine Eucharist, a Gate of Heaven through which a Creator would peer upon creation, a Tower of Ivory up whose chaste body He was to climb "to kiss upon her lips a mystical rose."

As He was physically formed in her, so He wills to be spiritually formed in you. If you knew He was seeing through your eyes, you would see in every fellowman a child of God. If you knew that He worked through your hands, they would bless all the day through. If you knew He spoke through your lips, then your speech, like Peter's, would betray that you had been with the Galilean. If you knew that He wants to use your mind, your will, your fingers, and your heart, how different you would be. If half the world did this there would be no war!

It also reminded me of this great quote posted by a friend of mine on Facebook...

Every mother, when she picks up the young life that has been born to her, looks up to the heavens to thank GOD for the gift which made the world young again. But here was a Mother, a Madonna, who did not look up. She looked down to Heaven, for this was Heaven in her arms.


Bishop Hebda's 2010 Christmas Message

As Christmas approaches here's a Christmas Message from Bishop Bernard Hebda. Bishop Hebda recently completed his first year as bishop and will be leading Catholics in Northern Michigan as we celebrate the Diocese of Gaylord's 40th Anniversary in 2011. The actual anniversary day is July 20, 2011. Here's a sample of Bishop Hebda's message...

For 18 Christmases, I had the opportunity to join thousands of Romans who wander the streets of their city during the 12 days of Christmas to visit the elaborate nativity scenes that would be erected in each Church. Following the Neapolitan tradition, the nativity scene would normally include not only the stable so familiar to us in the United States, with a smattering of shepherds, angels and kings, but also representatives of everyday Italian life -- the baker, the butcher, the mayor, the barkeep, and perhaps even a few soccer players -- all centered around the newborn king greeting the world from the simplicity of His manger. The message could not be any clearer: while there may have been no room in Bethlehem's inns, the Messiah makes sure that there's always room for everyone at His threshold.

During this Christmas season, let us be thankful for this wonderful shepherd who leads us with courage and grace. Thanks be to God for Bishop Hebda!

Read Bishop's Christmas message: Are we more like the innkeepers or the Lord? in the Charlevoix Courier

Social Media and The Nativity Story

My wife emailed these to me this week and I finally watched them. They both follow the story of Joseph and Mary building up to the birth of Jesus using Social Media. I like them both with a slight edge toward the 2nd one.

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View comments about this video in the article The Digital Story of Nazareth at Faith and Family Live.

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View comments about this video in the article More Facebooking With the Holy Family at Faith and Family Live.

What do you think of the videos?

Yeah, Frustration-Free™ Packaging!

Finally, one of my dreams has come true! At least Amazon understands that it shouldn't take 45 minutes to open Fisher-Price Little People.

See Products Available with Frustration-Free™ Packaging at

PS. Just noticed that calls it a "Holiday Toy List" instead of a "Christmas Toy List", here comes my email!