Here are this week’s must-reads:
+ “I think we all have these “before” moments in our lives, and they’re almost never visible to the outside world. I never could have anticipated what was to come. I wouldn’t have wanted to—how can you prepare for loss except by loving? And that’s what we did. Our hearts have been stretched by loss, our capacity for love immeasurably increased. ” — A Blog for My Mom
+ “The faith of Pier Giorgio was a continuous, slow, quiet conversation with the Lord, a conversation composed of little things, the little things that he had done his whole life long.” –Luciana Frassati
+ “When Wisdom came to earth He was a child, and when Wise Men came to Wisdom they were told to be like children. Christmas, then, is the coronation of childhood, the glorification of the young whose hearts are simple, the proclamation to aging hearts that the world need not despair and die, because the Fountain of Youth has come into it…turn time backward, make old things young again.” —Blessed Fulton Sheen, “In The Fullness of Time”
+ “None of us is alone in this world. Each of us is a vital piece of the great mosaic of humanity as a whole.” — St. John Paul II
+ “The power of the Sacrament of Marriage: “Marriage, as a vocation, calls you to steer a tiny boat – wave-tossed yet sturdy, thanks to the reality of the sacrament – across a sometimes stormy sea. How often do you want to say, or better, cry out, like the apostles: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). Let us never forget, though, that by virtue of the sacrament of matrimony, Jesus is present in that boat; he is concerned for you and he remains at your side amid the tempest… It is important that, together, you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Only in this way, will you find peace, overcome conflicts and discover solutions to many of your problems. Those problems, of course, will not disappear, but you will be able to see them from a different perspective.
“Only by abandoning yourselves into the Lord’s hands will you be able to do what may seem impossible. Recognize your own weakness and powerlessness in the face of so many situations all around you, but at the same time be certain that Christ’s power will thus be manifested in your weakness (cf. 2 Cor 12:9). It was precisely in the midst of the storm that the apostles came to know the kingship and divinity of Jesus, and learned to trust in him.” — Pope Francis
+ “Sometimes couples get so focused on making things feel “like they used to be” instead of embracing the season they are in. Don’t try to recreate the past. Learn from it and then make this new season your best season of marriage yet.” — Marriage
+ “I realized something while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” recently. It was something I missed the first 326 times I watched it. That is, I think the hero of the story isn’t George, it’s Mary… The movie starts off with Mary praying for God to be with George. Her prayer (and others) is the catalyst for the angel, Clarence, being sent to George. Mary is the one who sees the beauty of the old broken down house. “It’s full of romance, that old place.” George sees empty space; Mary sees a space that can be filled with a family’s love. That’s why George kisses the broken banister knob in the end; he finally sees what Mary always saw in that house. Mary saw it on the day of their wedding…” — read the rest here
+ “To varying degrees, we all carry with us wounds, depravation, and the heavy load of family discord. These are the burdens that Christ came to lift, the hurts He came to heal. And He’s not just interested in redeeming your heart; He also gives you a family.The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares, “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden’” (Id. § 1658). When you were baptized, God brought you into His family. And as members of His Church, we are given the Holy Family as our model of familial worship. So pack your bags—and all your baggage—and move in with the Holy Family this week…” — Olivia Spears
+ “While this is a season of Joy & Peace, many have heavy hearts for various reasons. And while the Holy Family were all human (all though Jesus was also God) they had real experiences, hardships, suffering & emotions just like us. When you feel the weight of life’s burdens, know that the Holy Family experienced & felt those emotions. For those suffering right now, I’m praying for your peace. I’m praying you may experienced the light of Christ & His love. I pray that you’re blessed with true peace & find rest in His arms” — No Heart Untouched
+ “If Christmas were just about domestic bliss and candy canes, it would be unbearable. We would sit through yet another Christmas alone or childless or estranged or poor or overwhelmed or grieving or doubting or sick or haunted, feeling nothing but the not-enough of this magical holiday But Christmas is more than that. Christmas is an answered prayer—a million answered prayers as the Desired of all nations, the only Joy of every human heart steps into a world in sin and error pining and tells each soul its worth. Christmas is proof that you are loved, that you are not alone, that the ugliness of this world will give way to joy unimaginable.” — Meg Hunter-Kilmer
+ “YOU are a unique, unrepeatable creation. Your talents and gifts are good— but they do not define your worth.
You are worthy of love and belonging because you are YOU. Please remember these truths going into family gatherings for Christmas and New Years. Chances are— your family loves you because you are YOU. Not because of anything you do.” — Feminine Genius Ministries
+ “To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.”.… “The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” — St. John Paul II
+ “To meditate upon the Infant Christ helps us to remember that spiritual motherhood can be an authentic gift and calling, and to connect with the reality that we may be mothers of one, or none, in flesh, yet mothers to many, in spirit. This spiritual motherhood contributes to a woman’s true radiance. The generous maternal desire to share the wealth of our spiritual lives is part of the “feminine genius,” which St. John Paul the Great described so eloquently in Mulieris Dignitatem.” — Aleteia
+ “So many of us come from messy families. In fact, you will not presently find a family here on earth that doesn’t have some level of mess involved. Some family members are so disagreeable that we’d rather create other family with friends. We don’t want to be connected to people with whom we share blood. Some of us have experiences with our families that are trying, unexpected, and difficult. Some of us have family stories that are embarrassing, shameful, or even disgraceful. But, family must be centrally important to our lives because Christ entered the world into a family. There is something about family that we yearn for and even when our biological one is broken, we will try and find a new one…” Amy, Catholic Pilgrim
+ “Though we’re not home yet, God the Father is with us, and He has the power to lead us through the desert. Though we have a long journey ahead, He is always in our midst.” — Scott Hahn
+ “One year, when we put up our fresh Christmas tree, we found an empty nest tucked deep inside its branches. What a sweet surprise! We kept it in the tree, and then I saved it so we can put it back in a new tree each year. It reminds me of the simple dignity we find in creating a home for our families, and then keeping that home, as loved ones come and go. Our nest these days empties and then fills, empties and fills. Though I sometimes struggle with missing what once was, I aim to find peace, purpose, and joy in every stage of it. Like he does for the birds of the air who neither reap nor sow, nor gather into barns, our loving Father sees me, loves me, and feeds me too. ” — Danielle Bean
+ And here, one of my favorite Christmas poems:
“This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.
That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honor & truth were trampled to scorn—
Yet here did the Savior make His home.
When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn—
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.”
+ “The shepherds made haste. Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us. Amen.” — Pope Benedict XVI
+ Lastly, here’s what’s featured in this week’s Catholic Wife, Catholic Life Newsletter. I share these every Monday and they always include: two gluten-free recipes, a reflection & prayer based on Sunday’s Mass readings, and links to budget-friendly fashion & home decor.