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Give Hope

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The first week of Advent asks us  to ponder the virtue of hope. Are you looking for a way to give hope in preparation for Jesus? Try this.

In the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
Jesus wants us to prepare the way for his coming, for there are so many blocks in the way of his becoming all in all for us. Give him whatever he takes and take from him whatever he gives with a big smile.
Be a cause of joy to others.
Speak well of everybody
Smile at all you meet.
Deliberately make three acts of loving kindness every day.
Confess any sin against charity.
If you offend anyone - even a small child - ask forgiveness before going to bed.
Read about, meditate on, and speak of this love.

Advent Preparations

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One of my favorite memories as a child was the two days after Thanksgiving. Of course I was off from school, but this was also the time when the Christmas tree went up and lights were put on the house. There are certain ornaments, even to this day, that my mom leaves for me to put on the tree - mainly the Packer ornaments! For many of us, we are going into "Christmas mode". I'm sure decorations are going up and family events are being planned. These are all wonderful things because as Andy Williams sings, "It's the most wonderful time of year!"

Through all these joys, we have to remember that this is the beginning of the Advent season, not the Christmas season. These next four weeks are a time a preparation, not only to welcome guests into our home, but also Jesus himself into our hearts. In the middle of all the busyness, we must recall why we're doing all of this in the first place. Perhaps this year something won't be as perfect as you'd like. Maybe you didn't have time to make that one extra side dish because you took a break to pray. Maybe there's a few decorations that didn't make it up this year because you came to Mass or Reconciliation instead. I promise you that time spent preparing your heart will make you far happier on Christmas morning than any decoration.

Together, as a family, may we prepare our hearts well this Advent, so that we can join the choir of angels on Christmas morning singing, "Glory to God in the highest!"

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

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When Dr. Seuss was 53 years old, he was fed up. The children’s book author and illustrator was tired of the noise, the constant activity, and the busy-ness that was attached to Christmas. His desire was that people would celebrate the joy and peacefulness of the season without all the hoopla detracting from it. So he did what any great writer does. He wrote a story about it. How the Grinch Stole Christmas has become a classic, spanning over five decades.

It’s funny that in today’s world we think of the Grinch as an awful and mean creature. We forget that he actually transformed his attitude about Christmas. He saw the Whos in Whoville celebrating together, even without the gifts and food. He discovered that it was about being together and sharing this special day with each other.

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.”

How is your Advent going? Are you caught up in the gifts, food, and busy-ness? Are you finding yourself getting anxious about all the things to do and people on your shopping list?

What is your focus as we approach Christmas Day? Are you finding time to pray, reflect and give thanks for the miracle of Christmas? Are you setting aside time to be fully present to those you love and those you meet?

How big is your heart this Christmas season?

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