Do Children Know More About Santa than Jesus?

Based purely on personal observation, the vast majority of Millennial parents who celebrate Christmas make sure their kids know everything there is to know about Santa Claus–what he looks like, wears, what make he thinks is good (and bad), the people around him, songs about him, etc–while almost never mentioning (if at all) Christ’s role in Christmas.

The fact that “Jesus” is often a foreign word on the tongue of a toddler but “Santa” is often a staple word in the lexicon of a two-year old is sad. The reason is because “Jesus” is a foreign word to most parents.

Santa Claus is great and fun tradition. But when he is divorced from the true nature of Christmas and, thus, removed from his roots as Saint Nicholas, Millennial parents are raising a new generation of shallow-minded consumerists.

Have fun with Santa, Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, and all the elves, but make sure your kids hear you talking about Jesus more than you talk about Santa. After all, Christmas is celebrating the most monumental day in the history of the planet…the day God took on a physical form on Earth and became man. ☩

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St. Nicholas, ora pro nobis!

Forget the election chaos, focus on the Kingdom

It seems that this election is speeding up the continuation of our spiral into chaos, anger, and fear in this country. It’s a scandal that conservative-minded people, especially those who seek stability for religious freedom, must vote for a man who is known to express remarkably vulgar sentiments and often seems insincere with his recently acquired conservative positions.

Even worse is that the other option is a person who goes beyond simply speaking of these sentiments by actually seeking to ruin women (and one child) who have come out as sexual assault victims in order to gain political power and wealth. This along with the desire not only for abortion on-demand  up until the moment of birth but also to have tax payers foot the bill. A vote for this option would also be voting in favor of what is essentially a referendum if one is okay with even less transparency in the executive branch and what would likely be a level of corruption that no past presidential administration comes close to matching.

It’s true that voting for the “lesser of two evils” is something that genuinely does need to be considered every election cycle. This is something we do every day in small and big ways. Similar to the situation Aron Ralston found himself in when got his arm trapped under a boulder while hiking alone (and depicted in the movie 127 Hours), it sometimes makes sense to go through pain if you know it increases the odds of a better outcome. Aron cut his arm off with a pocket knife and successfully avoided death.

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But there is a point where the “lesser of two evils” argument breaks down. While I’m not suggesting we are at this point with our two options (as it can be argued), I’m suggesting that political conservatives be careful not to ignore how close it is approaching. At a certain point it’s like arguing if we should vote for the person who murdered 20 people or the one who murdered 18 people. Eventually there will be a line crossed where it makes sense to simply not accept the choices before us.

Alas there is (and always will be) hope despite these dark times. The good news it that we are “resident aliens” in this representative democracy. Our true home is with our Father who art in heaven. And we answer to our sovereign king Jesus Christ whose monarchy spans the universe. Ultimately we have hope for an outcome that rests beyond what happens after this election. The Adversary wants us to submit to anxiety and fear so we lash out, make bad decisions, and are overcome by the world and the political systems that reside within it. Don’t.

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. -Mt 8:24-26

What to make of what’s going on? Well, our country is divided more than ever, people care more about politics than principles, we are a post-Christian nation, and the only institution we have that can match the corruption of our politics is our mainstream news media. All we can do as individual Christians is evangelize, pray, and fast.

No one knows what will happen on November 8 or what will happen after that. What we do know is that we are not made for this world. We are made for heaven. This world is simply the ship that takes us there and as long as we stay aboard through daily conversion, faith in Christ, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Confession and Communion we will one day reach the outcome that no political election can satisfy.☩

Faith and Hope in the Lord

Tonight while finishing the book of Hebrews with my wife (if you don’t make time for it already, let me tell you it’s a real treat when you are able to find a quiet time to read Scripture–especially with your spouse), I found the peace, hope, and beauty of the last two chapters too good not to briefly share for those not familiar enough to recall. Below is the abridgement of chapters 12 & 13.

The Example of Jesus

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?—

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Warnings against Rejecting God’s Grace

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled; 16

[…]

28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe

Service Well-Pleasing to God

13 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” Hence we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper,
I will not be afraid;
what can man do to me?”

[…]

12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing abuse for him.14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

You Want to #PrayForOrlando? Good…

In the wake of the horrendous transgression against God and humanity this past weekend, there has been many calls to #PrayForOrlando on social media. If the people sharing this hashtag are indeed determined to pray for those harmed by this act of terrorism there are important prayers everyone (especially Catholics) should be familiar with. Real prayer takes time and requires one to say “no” to something else, something they may want to do more. Real prayer, especially paired with fasting, is powerful. Simply talking about praying is not.

Lord please grant unto the victims in Orlando eternal rest and let perpetual light shine upon them, comfort their families and friends by bringing them close to your Sacred Heart, and give the perpetrators and others sympathetic to their cause the grace for conversion. Amen.


For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

O glorious prince St. Michael,
chief and commander of the heavenly hosts,
guardian of souls, vanquisher of rebel spirits,
servant in the house of the Divine King
and our admirable conductor,
you who shine with excellence
and superhuman virtue deliver us from all evil,
who turn to you with confidence
and enable us by your gracious protection
to serve God more and more faithfully every day.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to Your protection, implored Your help, or sought Your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To You we come; before You we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in Your mercy, hear and answer us.  Amen.

Jesus, Prince of Peace,
You have asked us to love our enemies
and pray for those who persecute us.
We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us.
With the help of the Holy Spirit,
may all people learn to work together
for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.
To You be glory and honor for ever and ever.

Prayers associated with the Rosary

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Formal Dinner Offered to Milwaukee’s Homeless

Last Saturday, service organization North Star Providers put on a formal, three-course dinner for 100 homeless people from Milwaukee for Lent. It was hosted at Marquette University High School and students waited on the guests. The event included a great food, beverages and live music.

I came across the following photo in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s photo album of the event and was moved by it. It shows some homeless men bowing in prayer before to meal. Most of us pray before our meals as a formality, not truly feeling awe-struck and grateful for the blessings on our plate in front of us. This beautiful image of the afflicted being comforted helps move me to be humbled and be thankful for the comforts I enjoy.

The menu included | Image credit: Mark Hoffman

Often we (very much including me) are quick to dismiss the homeless because we can (or think we can) point to bad decisions that put them there, and we’re probably often right. But Jesus asks us to strive to look past our righteousness and serve those who are “least among us”. This doesn’t mean we should be played like a sucker by giving a beggar our cash outside of a liquor store saying he needs money for the bus–we know the drill when it comes to those folks–but it does mean we try to genuinely fight despair when we’re able to.

[Jesus said]: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

-Matthew 25:35-40

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An organizer holds an attendant’s baby during dinner
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Marquette High School students served diners at the dinner

Images by Mark Hoffman