A beautiful Christmas poem in honor of slain Newtown children

A FRIEND of mine posted this beautiful poem on Facebook. I thought I’d share it. It’s being credited to someone named Cameo Smith from Mt. Wolf, Pennsylvania.

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Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.

They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“This is heaven.” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools.
I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“Come now my children, let me show you around.”
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”
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Why our family waits to plug in the Christmas lights

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As we’re in the throes of the pre-Christmas season, my little house in rural Nova Scotia is surrounded by brightly-lit homes, many of which are really quite impressive. We were surprised when we moved out this way how many houses put up lights on our street. It brings some extra joy to the season, I think. Last night actually we took the long way home to soak it all in.

That being said, I explained before how Jenna and I really feel it’s important to observe Advent, and hold off on Christmas until Christmas.

People have different ways of observing Advent, and I know that the Vatican has already lit up its tree. But I’ve always felt that Christmas lights were an important symbol of the season, so we’ve held off right until the very end.

I explained our approach to this at LifeSite a few years back. I thought it would be a good time to put it out there again.

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Why we wait to plug in the Christmas lights

Many of us enjoy taking drives around our communities at this time of year to take in the often magnificent displays of Christmas lights.  This is our first Christmas in our first house, so we were pretty excited to put lights up.  About three weeks ago we bought our first set, and to my 20-month-old’s great excitement, I got on the ladder and started stringing them from the gutters.  I tied some boughs to the porch and wrapped lights around them.  Then we hung the wreath on the front door.

But after briefly testing them, I pulled the cord.

We, like everyone else, put up lights to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit.  But we just weren’t ready to get in the Christmas spirit.

Downtown Denver Christmas Lights 3Christmas lights are a symbol of Christ, the Light of the World.  Christ, as pro-lifers are keenly aware, became Man nine months before Christmas at the Annunciation.  He lay hidden, nurtured in His mother’s womb, known only to His parents and those around them.  At Christmas the glory of this infant King was revealed to all from His lowly stable in Bethlehem.

The angels rejoiced and the sky was lit up across the known world by the Star of Bethlehem, proclaiming to all – Jew and Gentile – the arrival of the Saviour.  It was this spectacular light that beckoned the three wise men to come pay homage to the new King.  They knelt before Him and worshipped on behalf of all us Gentiles.

The lights of Christmas remind us that Christ has conquered the darkness and that we are now living in a time ruled by hope.

Yet even in this time of light and hope, there are seasons of darkness, times when God allows us to feel like evil has won out and He has abandoned us.  Labourers for the cause of life know this feeling.  We are confronted every day by the worst forms of death and destruction imaginable.  It can be easy to give up hope.

But we embrace this darkness as a gift from God, which He uses to strengthen our faith in Him.  When we encounter this darkness, we are forced to believe all the more strongly that it is us who have been blinded, and that Christ’s light continues to shine in all its brightness.

It’s important to my family that we fully celebrate Advent, dedicating this time to prepare for Christ’s coming.  We prepared the lights, but embraced a time of darkness.  Just as Christ was hidden and burst forth in all His glory at Christmas, so our lights remain dark until Christmas.  We believe that this waiting will make the lights shine all the brighter.

Likewise, the darkness of our age merely radiates Christ’s glory all the more as His followers are called to ever greater holiness.  Though Christ’s birth brought with it the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, His radiance only shone more brightly as they were raised to the height of martyrdom.

Republished with permission from LifeSiteNews.com.

“Strangers and pilgrims on the earth”

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb 11:13).

THE PILGRIM always seeks some place of joy, consolation, splendour, yet before he reaches his destination there’s an unsettledness, an uncomfortability. He’s a stranger. Though he may find places of rest along the road, he’s dependent on his host and so, like Christ, he has “nowhere to lay his head.” As he crosses foreign lands, he’s bound to feel out of place; in hostile territory he is rejected.

And so it is with the Christian. Just as our fathers in faith from the Old Testament, we are pilgrims on the earth in search of our heavenly home. So long as we eschew the values of the world, we are going to feel uncomfortable, out of place, even rejected. But, as Christ tells us, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me first” (John 15:18).

The feeling might not have been quite as pronounced in the West in years past, but, as our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has warned and as we’ve all encountered, those areas once known as Christendom are now facing an “eclipse of God,” a rapid secularization and enmity towards authentic faith.

The inevitable consequence is persecution. Of course, we’ve not yet reached an age of martyrs, but the lines of the culture war are being drawn more clearly.

Msgr. Charles Pope, a courageous and devout priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, outlined the five stages of persecution in a blog post on Sunday: 1) Stereotyping the targeted group; 2) Vilifying the targeted group for alleged crimes or misconduct; 3) Marginalizing the targeted group’s role in society; 4) Criminalizing the targeted group or its works; 5) Persecuting the targeted group outright with heavy fines and jail time. The good priest puts us at stage 4 and well on our way to stage 5.

Consider the HHS mandate in the U.S., which imposes hefty fines on religious employers who refuse to pay for their employees’ contraceptive coverage. Or in Canada, we have Ontario’s Bill 13 forcing Catholic schools to set up “gay-straight alliances”; in Quebec, there’s the mandatory ethics and religious culture course indoctrinating children in relativism from grades 1 to 11.

Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, famously said a few years ago: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

The times we live in demand that we gird ourselves for spiritual battle. We must be prepared to protect our families from the spiritual forces seeking to invade our homes, placing ourselves under the mantle of Our Lady. With the culture around us in seeming collapse and the Church devastated by scandal, apostasy, and indifference, we need a strong domestic Church; in fact, we need strong communions of domestic Churches to support each other in handing on the Faith and our Catholic patrimony with full authenticity.

In this Year of Faith and in his entire project of the New Evangelization, the Holy Father is calling us to restore the culture to Christ. And this is precisely the purpose for which I’ve launched this blog. For, though the pilgrim looks ahead to some distant land of hope, what would the pilgrimage be if he did not make good and holy use of the journey, if he were not a beacon of light in the darkness of a hostile land, if he did not hope to make some little witness to those he meets on the road?

And this, we might say, is the final message of Cardinal George’s famous prophecy. As he wrote in October, the last line had been forgotten. After the bishop suffers martyrdom, he said, “his successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

Whether or not we think God will grant us the time needed to fully restore Christian Culture in our society, we must labor with the belief that it can be done if God so wills it.

If we take the task of Christian Culture seriously, we have a long and arduous journey ahead, and I make no claims to be able to equip or even guide my fellow wayfarers. Consider this humble blog as the occasional musings of a fellow traveller. They are at least offered, I sincerely hope and pray, in the light of faith and reason and according to the perceived promptings of the Spirit.

So with that, I welcome you to Pilgrim’s Journal.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.