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He Has Raised Up a Mighty Savior • Family Time!

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December 23-29 • Fourth Week of Advent + Octave of Christmas

St. Adele + Christmas Eve + Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord + St. Stephen + St. John the Evangelist + Holy Innocents + St. Thomas Beckett


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9 WAYS TO DO FAITH & FAMILY

A few options for Catholic moms and dads to try with kids next week.

1. Celebrate Christmas to the fullest. Christmas isn’t a one-day event for Catholics…which leaves plenty of time for fun Christmas traditions! Here are 20 Catholic traditions to try with your family this Christmas season, plus another five traditions that are just plain fun. This article is updated from 2017. (You can also get a printable PDF of an abridged version.)


2. Celebrate God’s saving power like Mary and Elizabeth. Listen for a connection between the birth of Jesus and King David. Preview the readings with your kids in this week’s Breaking Open the Word at Home, by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry.


3. Use table cards to tell stories at your Christmas dinner. It’s a simple way to spark conversation about Christmases past…or even to tell the Christmas story to kids. Find out how, including step-by-step directions, from Regina Lordan. (You can also get a printable PDF version of this article.)


4. Read these great Christmas books with your kids. From the battlefields of 10th-century Bohemia to the silly, single-minded camel, and the quiet stillness of a Santa kneeling in front of the baby Jesus, this list of books covers it all


5. Play a game of Christmas trivia with your kids. Do you know what the name Bethlehem means? It’s Christmas trivia time! Let your kids ask you one or more of these questions (Don’t worry, the answers are included, too.)


6. Help other families by donating unused toys to charity. In the last days before Christmas, go through toys your kids have outgrown or otherwise don’t use and donate them to your local thrift shop or Goodwill for last-minute bargain hunters to pick up. If you find it hard to give away toys for sentimental reasons, try picturing how happy it will make another family this Christmas.


7. Evangelize at Christmas Mass. Ever notice how the pews brim with familiar and unfamiliar faces each Christmas? Why not take the opportunity to make everyone feel welcome? John J. Boucher, a Catholic evangelization consultant, offers these nine welcoming ways to evangelize at Christmas Mass. And Jean Heimann from Catholic Fire offers 11 more easy ways to evangelize during the Christmas season.


8. Go on a quiet, prayerful walk with your kids. Sometime during the Octave of Christmas, take them on a quiet walk to teach them contemplative prayer. Yes, “quiet kids” might seem to be an oxymoron, but that’s why you want to take “small steps” toward the regular practice of contemplative prayer. We’ll tell you why and how.


9. Catch the Noel Sky. At about 8 p.m. Dec. 25 (and throughout the week of Christmas) the Northern Cross stands upright on the western horizon, just about to set, but directly opposite on the eastern horizon is Praesepe, the Manger, just rising. It’s a phenomenon called the Noel Sky.


Miss out on some of our wall-to-wall Advent coverage? Get it all at Peanut Butter & Grace. And pick up lots of nifty resources from the USCCB Advent page.

WIN AN ILLUMINATED ROSARY SET FOR YOUR PARISH

Win an Illuminated Rosary four-book set for your parish! We’re giving away one set per month. A set of Illuminated Rosary books is great for religious ed classrooms, adoration chapels, or prayer groups. Enter here.

RAISING FAITHFUL CITIZENS

NIH DEFENSE OF FETAL TISSUE RESEARCH DRAWS REBUKE

The U.S. Catholic bishops on Tuesday issued a statement calling comments by the director of the National Institutes of Health “deeply disturbing.” The statement follows:

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently defended current NIH research that uses the body parts of babies destroyed by elective abortions and said that fetal tissue research “will continue to be the mainstay.”

Greg Schleppenbach, Associate Director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, responds with the following statement:

“Dr. Collins’ comments are deeply disturbing. Research using fetal tissue from aborted babies is unethical and should not continue under his leadership. The use of fetal remains procured from abortions can be interpreted as legitimizing abortion by saying it is an important source for research. It also requires close collaboration with the abortion industry. Every abortion stops a beating heart, unjustly denying a defenseless human being of her or his life. There is nothing pro-life about further violating these aborted babies by scavenging, even commodifying, their body parts for use in research. The remains of aborted babies are human remains and should be given the full respect they deserve. Millions of pro-life Americans find such research morally offensive and do not want their tax dollars to be used to pay for it.

Researchers have demonstrated the ability to both pursue excellence in research and to avoid violating the rights and dignity of nascent human beings. Dr. Collins can and should lead the NIH in a way that honors both ends, incentivizing research that all Americans can support.”

…AND COMMENT ON DEATH OF 7-YEAR-OLD MIGRANT

The U.S. Catholic bishops also issued a statement on the death of a 7-year-old migrant last week; the statement can be found here

On December 8, seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died in the custody of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). She and her father had been apprehended the evening of December 6 in a remote stretch of the U.S./Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, along with Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso and Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, Administrator of the Diocese of Las Cruces, issued the following statement:

“We are extremely distressed at the news of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death shortly after crossing the U.S./Mexico border with her father and turning themselves into CBP in search of asylum in the United States. Our prayers and heart-felt condolences go out to Jakelin’s family. The death of a child is always a moment of great sadness, a jarring disruption of the natural order of life. From this tragedy, we must remember this profound human consequence of our failed immigration policies, including also that restrictions on the flow of asylum seekers at the border can push more families to seek entrance between ports of entry which place them at greater risk. Jakelin’s death is a tragic reminder of the desperate situation that many fleeing violence, persecution, and poverty face – both in their home countries and now at our border.

We welcome the investigation of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. We recognize the work and commitment of CBP officers to ensure our safety, but urge CBP leadership to critically review policies regarding the care of vulnerable populations in their custody. We pledge our assistance to help CBP do so.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, himself a child whose parents were told “there is no room,” we continue to recognize and affirm that seeking asylum and protection is legal. As a nation, we have the obligation to receive distraught individuals and families with welcome, compassion, and humane treatment. We must heed the words of Christ that “Whatsoever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

EVEN SANTA HAS A SHIPPING DEADLINE

If our books are on your shopping list, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • If an item is marked as backordered, it won’t ship in time for Christmas ..but look for the book at Amazon.com, which has most of our books in stock and ready to ship, or check your favorite bookseller.
  • For free shipping, order no later than December 14.
  • For priority mail shipping, order no later than December 19.
  • For the Ovenbird Bindery Illuminated Rosary, order by Wednesday, December 6.
  • Almost all of our titles are available on Amazon.com and BN.com. If you’re ordering past our “delivery by Christmas” deadlines, consider ordering from these companies instead. You’ll find a link to the Amazon page on most of our titles’ catalog pages.
  • Don’t forget to use our coupons to get 15%, 20%, or 25% off the retail price. Click on “Coupons” in the navigation menu.

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Family Time! and Peanut Butter & Grace is edited by Regina Lordan and Jerry Windley-Daoust. Find out about our contributors.

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Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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