I love Nativity scenes. I currently have only a simple set, inexpensive. But I set it up every Christmas during Advent sans the manger and Christ Child which I place in the scene on Christmas Eve after dinner and sometimes at midnight. Depends on whether or not I’m attending Midnight Mass. This year I was ill (sarcoidosis, not the flu or anything contagious) during most of Advent and I didn’t get to go to Mass for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th Sundays of Advent and not for Midnight Mass either. I also lost my voice so I couldn’t even sing Christmas carols at home. Oy!

But I did manage to decorate the house last Saturday just a few days before Christmas. I’ve got stringing lights and garland on the front porch down to an art and this year I even threw a few lights on the shrubs in the flower bed. A small artificial tree on the table in the breakfast nook and a few other things here and there completed the look.

Then on Christmas Eve after the family dinner was over (and a very fine dinner it was, too, thanks to my sister and her husband!) and everyone had left or had gone to bed, I said a blessing for the Nativity scene and placed the Christ Child in the center. The three wise men are in the den, making their way on their journey to Bethlehem. They’re due to arrive on the feast of the Epiphany and then I’ll take the decorations down until next year.

But I may leave the lights in my room a bit longer. My older dog Abby hates those lights (or any lights when she’s trying to sleep) but I like ’em so I’m gonna keep ’em. For a little while. In the bleak midwinter a few little lights can bring a big smile. And I have a photo of my Nativity set to keep me company until Advent next year. Who knows? Maybe this coming year I’ll get an outdoor set for the yard.

Hope your Christmas season is a happy and blessed one wherever you are. Peace be with you now and throughout the coming year.

My Nativity scene, Christmas 2012

Nativity Icon, larger image at end of this postIn the beginning was the Word. And below is a video from Fr. Robert Barron’s Word on Fire ministry wherein he speaks about Christmas and the Prologue of the Gospel of John. I love Fr. Barron. He’s prolific and eloquent and my laptop, external drives and iPods are filled with hundreds of his podcasts and videos. (A note about the icon below the video and a larger view.)

May your Christmas be a blessed, holy and joyful one. Peace be with you and with your loved ones throughout the year. Merry Christmas!

About the Church in the East: Light of the East on Catholic Radio International. About the Nativity Icon, Show #378: The Nativity. Download. RSS. I recorded the show yesterday on EWTN about the Christmas customs of the Church in the East and watched it this morning. They talked about the icon in this post or one similar to it. Fascinating stuff. Or it may have been Fr. Jacob Restrick, OP, and his series, Icons: Windows Onto Heaven. I recorded them both and watched them back to back. Of course, I can’t find any links to Fr. Restrick’s show. Argh.

Nativity Icon

In the Bleak Midwinter...Amidst all the the mad dashing and rushing, the pushing and shoving, the shopping, the wrapping, the sorely missed napping—it’s easy to forget that Christmas is a time of celebration of the birth of a tiny child on a cold winter’s night in the long long ago. And a time of preparation for the day when our King will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. To help us both, you and me, keep the true meaning of Christmas in mind, here’s a poem (see below) that was also written long ago by one of my favorite poets. Gustav Holst set the poem to music and the result is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever.

Have a very Merry Christmas, dear Reader, whoever and wherever you are! May your heart be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ Who is the Source and Summit of all love and all truth and all goodness, all beauty and all joy, forever and ever. Amen. (Poem follows.) Continue reading

(Update at end of article) I just received an email from a friend. Now ordinarily I don’t do the whole forwarded email thing. I tend to delete them without looking at them. At least, I used to. But lately I’ve gotten many good ones that grabbed my eye and my attention and moved me to share them with others. The one I’m going to write about here is a case in point. You probably know that the ACLU has been working hard to remove Christianity from our public square, our public schools, and from our public lives in general. One of the ways they have tried to accomplish this is by having any reference to Christmas expunged Continue reading