All Is Calm, All Is Bright

One year ago Christmas was as it always was. The hustle and bustle of gift shopping, tree and house decorations, cards coming and going, the anticipation of children as they looked forward to the Christmas break from school. Packed Churches in celebration of the Nativity of Christ attended by family adorned in their better that Sunday best. The opening of Christmas morning gifts by excited Children as they awaited grandma, grandpa and other family members to share a Christmas feast.

Fast forward to the Christmas that lies before us clouded over by the pandemic that invaded our land and the entire world just after Christmas 2019. We shop for gifts online. Children look forward to returning to in person classes with friends, that they have been attending virtually alone. Though we decorate and still send cards, many will not be able to share them with others as has been true in the past. Churches, for those allowed to open, will worship and welcome the New Born Christ with 1/3 capacity. The distance between one another only accentuates our present national divide. The excitement of a child’s Christmas morning must be shared with grandparents from afar in fear of bringing ill upon them. The one time Christmas feast seems a fast. All that we have taken for granted, once the shadow of this moment in history has passed, will not likely be so taken for granted again, I dare say.

Yet we are not alone in our trials. For the first Christmas had its own vexations. Mary was with child as she chose to accompany her husband Joseph to his birthplace, Bethlehem, for the census decreed by Rome. They suffered a long and arduous trip far from family and home. Having arrived at their destination, the saddest of all phrases ever uttered greeted the soon to be savior of the world: “There was no room in the inn.” So in a cave beneath the earth, shared not by family but by domestic animals, the Son of God would descend upon His creation. His crib was a trough from which the animals fed softened by hay found within. Not immediate family, but the most common representatives of the family of man would be the first visitors to witness this first Christmas morn.

The state of the world was no better then than it is today. All have their own weight to carry, whether it be by the individual, nation or world. But, on that first Christmas a promise was kept. The harbinger of reconciliation between God and mankind had arrived. The veil that separates this world from heaven since The Fall, was briefly lifted to usher in the Son of Man in the Word Made Flesh. Shone upon Him was the light of God’s love from which has come The Light of the World. Man would no longer be in darkness but bathed in this celestial light. And mankind’s vision of life’s challenges from that point on would be so altered. For now an agent goes before us all to temper what pain may come forth from any natural or unnatural misfortunes and thus render the once unbearable, bearable. And convert the fearful to fearless.

No matter what our present reality is, determined by this time and circumstance, the same is true of each Christmas. At the end of each Advent the weight of our tribulations are greatly diminished, for the infant in that crib has come to bear our burdens. Though the loss of loved ones by various means, the illness of many, unemployment or loss of business and livelihood, separation from family, and the temporary loss of our very way of life may have many teetering on the brink of despair, there is yet reason to take heart, rejoice and be glad. For from the strains of the Christmas Carol, ‘Silent Night”, be it known to all, with certainty, that in the Christ Child: “All is calm, all is bright.”

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Those Who Stand Between Freedom’s Life or Death.

In the Preservation of Freedom, They have stayed “vigilant”. Have we?

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” ― G.K. Chesterton

May the valor of those patriots, past and present, who have pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honors for God, Family and Country, never be undermined by our vanities.

Merry Christmas, My Friend
By James M. Schmidt, a Marine Lance Corporal
stationed in Washington, D.C., in 1986

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.

I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.

Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”

One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

“More than one million men and women, preponderantly of modest means and infinite courage, sacrificed all of their tomorrows while fighting for America’s unifying “virtues.” Surely we can honor their sacrifice, transmit the values for which they fought and preserve the “common defense” that is liberty’s backbone. By our vigilance, the sacrifices of America’s departed heroes shall never be in vain.” – by Bishop David R. BrownMay 29, 2000

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The Good Christmas Thief

“The Thief Who Understood Value”

I was disappointed to find that the life-size Nativity was not on display in the Danielson town green some years ago. A town parks and recreation representative informed me that the display organizers had arranged to have it moved to a church near the park. Reason being, that the baby Jesus which had been taken from the display, but returned in recent years, was not returned last year.

The thief must have been a good thief. Because only a good thief would know the greatest value of something. That is why he or she chose to take the central figure of the display; which so happens to be the central figure of Christmas. The baby Jesus always draws the most attention. Especially the attention of those who need him most.

Two thousand years ago, another thief was not in a park but on a hill. In his darkest moment, he too was drawn to Jesus. And as a good thief himself, saw great value in the man who hung from the cross next to his. His last act on earth was that of a thief; for he stole heaven.

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Where Advent Leads; Renewed

Where Advent Leads

Posted on December 15, 2015by Alan A. Malizia: Contagious Optimism! Co-Author

xmas manger

Let’s go back and think of all the repercussions of the sin of Adam. There isn’t an Arab; there isn’t an American;  there isn’t a European; there isn’t an Asiatic in the world who does not feel within himself something of the complexes, the contradictions, the contrarieties, the civil wars, the rebellions inside of his human nature which he has inherited from Adam. We all struggle against temptation. Why? Simply because our human nature was disordered in the beginning. There is a terrific monotony about human nature. You must not think that you are the only one in the world who has a tortured soul. Now if the sin of Adam has had so many repercussions in every human being that has ever lived, shall we deny that the Incarnation of our Blessed Lord has had a greater repercussion? Can it be that the sin of one man can have greater effects and disorder in human nature than the Incarnation of the Son of God has in ordering all humanity? That is why I say that everybody in the world is implicitly Christian. Some may not become Christians, but that is not the fault of Christ. He took their humanity upon himself. – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting for a promise to be fulfilled. A promise that God would again make all things right between Himself and Man. The Creator would be reconciled with His creatures. Through Christ we all become adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. And thereby are heirs of all that His love has had in store for us from all eternity. The first man said no to God and broke their relationship. Through the Incarnation man has been given the opportunity to renew that relationship by saying yes to Christ.

All who come to Christ are reconnected with God. And all are changed, because in coming to Him all must be changed. When the wise men came to pay homage to Christ they did not return by the way they came, for fear that Herod would know the Christ child’s whereabouts and seek do Him harm. In another sense, all who come to Christ with a contrite heart, will likewise, not return by the way they came. They cannot return to their lives which once belonged to the world, because their lives must now belong to Christ. One cannot stand in two camps. One must decide one way or the other. One can choose to remain a worldly sinner or become a saint. For all who one day enter heaven are exactly that; saints.

So this is where Advent leads. To a crib in which nestles the key that frees weary men and women from souls enslaved by sin, and restores peace to uncertain anxious hearts that the world cannot. The key which will soon re-open the gates of heaven to all who believe in Him. 

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Why Advent?

As Advent begins we need ponder on why.

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches. It is the beginning of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church, as well. It is a time of both anticipation and preparation for the celebration of the Birth of Jesus at Christmas.
But, why? Why the need for the Incarnation? Why did God find it necessary to come to man as a man; while maintaining His divine nature?

I believe the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen explains it best in the following.

We Are Fallen
“God certainly did not create us this way. We are fallen. All the facts support this view. There is a voice inside our moral conscience that tells us that our immoral and unmoral acts are abnormal. They ought not be there. There’s something wrong in us, something dislocated. God did not make us one way. Or rather, he did make us one way. And…

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Of Truth And Reality

A reprise blog from:

March 16, 2014

Alonso Quixana (Don Quixote) is an aging gentleman who is enamored by and devours books about chivalry. He becomes so absorbed with the subject that he soon escapes reality as he fancies himself a knight, and travels about the countryside performing acts of imagined valor and good deeds. His world, as that of Cervantes, was anything but virtuous or chivalrous.

Quixana recruits a good-natured and keen-witted farmer, Sancho Panza, to be his squire (actually more of a protector), and onward they go. Windmills are seen as menacing giants to be vanquished, and ladies of the evening are seen as simply ladies, as beheld through the refined eyes of the brave and good knight. One woman in particular, Aldonza, he chastely adores. He chooses to call her by another name, Dulcinea, and envisions her his lady. Of course the uprightworld, which he battles to uphold through his quests was at that time downright debased and debauched. However, Don Quixote saw it as it otherwise should be.

Don Quixote’s virtuous behavior and insistence of compliance to the same, by those (often the dregs of society) whom he came upon, was first viewed as humorous and entertaining. But in time would become intrusive and threatening to their customary practices. Yet his example, though a worldly contradiction to all, other than himself, began to have a converting effect. The prostitute Dulcinea began to see herself as a lady and act as such. And Sancho, who played along most unwillingly at first, became a dedicated and loyal companion with each new imaginary adventure.

Meanwhile, Alonso Quixana’s niece, being so embarrassed by his antics, feigns concern for his sanity and safety, and contrives a plan with the family doctor, Dr. Carrasco, to hopefully return him to his senses. Alonso (Don Quixote) is confronted by Dr. Carrasco, disguised as the Knight Of The Mirrors, and accompanied by compatriots dressed in armor and carrying reflecting shields. Dr. Carrasco challenges Don Quixote’s claim that his love, Dolcinea, is a lady. The doctor characterizes her as no more than an alley cat. Don Quixote, angered beyond reason at this insult to his lady, takes up Carrasco’s gauntlet and is surrounded by those with mirrored shields. He is forced to see his image at every turn, which appears that of a madman. Reality strikes an overwhelming blow as the doctor’s disparaging and humiliating rants cut deep. Don Quixote falls to the ground after seeing the foolish dreamer that he is perceived to be. The plan succeeds because he returns to reality. For better or worse?

The mirror is where truth and reality come face-to-face. However, what you see is not necessarily what you get. If reality yields to truth, then there is order. Reality is subject to the variables of time and circumstance. Truth is not. If a couple is thinking about buying a house, but one says to the other, “In reality we cannot afford to buy now.” Does that mean forever? No, because with the passage of time, circumstances have an opportunity to change. So in the future, that same couple may have the means to purchase a house. Now, if a person were to step off a ledge, in an attempt to refute the law of gravity, he will find that the outcome of his experiment will not be altered by time nor circumstance. The first is an example of reality, the second of truth.

Conversely, let us suppose that truth yields to reality. Then there is disorder, in this instance, as truth changes congruently with reality by time and circumstance. If truth does change, then truth is a lie. Our friend on the ledge should then get a different outcome to his experiment on a Thursday, than he would have gotten on a Monday – which would then make the law of gravity a lie, and that is not the case. For truth is ageless and beyond contestation.

The story does not end with Alonso Quixana on his death bed, a beaten man. Present with him is his squire Sancho and his lady Dulcinea. They are overcome with grief, because the man that lay prostrate before them is not he who rekindled in their hearts the flame of goodness, charity and dignity. They remind him of the truth that he stood forin his quest to revive chivalry. As he listens to their pleas, something stirs within him. His despairing heart is rejuvenated by their overtures of encouragement and love. He rises up vigorously and passionately promises to sally forth again. However, his endearing strength of spirit is too much for his frail and aged body to bear. As he succumbs to death, he is again Don Quixote, who passes from this world to the next, while in the arms of his lady and squire. He dies as he lived: a knight.

The image that Don Quixote beheld in the mirror was his reality, not his truth. His truth was in how he saw himself. And this, likewise, is how others saw him. The profound impression left upon those who crossed his path encouraged change (where once thought impossible) – and for the better. So much so that an Aldonza believed she couldbecome a Dolcinea.


Truth is not reflected in a mirror, but contained in the heart. It is often obscured by reality. Yet truth’s existence is confirmed by its outward effectiveness. No matter how distorted the inconsistent worldly realities may jade a heart, there in its farthest corner truth abides: A truth that endures and ensures the restoration of life to its full goodness, for one who desires it enough to fight for it. Like Don Quixote, we too can fulfill our just cause. If in the end, we are found fighting still.

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Is It ever Too Late?

The Laborers in the Vineyard

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.  And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you.  Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’  So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:1-16  

Death bed conversions are often a controversy. Like the laborers how can someone who follows the rules his whole life share the same rewards as another who breaks those rules and then reap the same benefits from the harvest? Doesn’t seem fair, does it? The obedient son in the prodigal son argues the same to his father. The father’s reply is that all I have is yours but your brother who was dead now lives, was lost is found again. The gift; the payment, is grace. It is given to those who satisfy the requirement regardless of the time spent in fulfilling it. The point is that mercy is, at times, involved in the grace being granted. Not necessarily earned by the individual seeking it, but, rather, by the one who has the power and authority to give it. The landowner’s money, is his to dispense with it as he chooses. God’s grace, likewise, is His to give as He chooses. No one can grant His grace but Him. Those who put in a full day and complained are told to take what they agreed to and go. It seems like they reveal an attitude of sour grapes (no pun intended). In their righteous indignation for what they believe to be just, they reveal their selfishness.

Our best example is the good thief. While suffering with Christ he defends Him, then turns to Christ and asks to be remembered. Christ promises him that he will be with Him in paradise this day. This, I argue, is the institution of the death bed conversion. How can the thief make amends for his transgressions? He can’t get off the cross and make good to all those he has stolen from or offended during his life? However, even then, by turning to Christ must mean something. It is his death bed confession. There will be those who say that the thief was just lying to save his soul from damnation. But, lying is from the prince of lies and Christ would have recognized that before the thief even spoke it. He would have known instantly if the thief was genuine or not. In His forgiving the thief we know what Christ knew.

Purgatory (The Church Suffering) is real and has its purpose here. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Unless we are so in such condition we can not enter heaven. For, God is pure and any blemish that remains upon our hearts or stain on our souls must be first purged before we are worthy to be in His presence. But, Purgatory is a blessing because it is but a matter of time that needs passing until the cleansing is complete and we are welcomed into the celestial House of God. A thief who steals bread due to hunger and not malice, after judgement, receives a sentence from the judge. Mercy is applied in the sentencing. In a case like this the sentence will be more lenient and when the debt is payed freedom is granted. The more severe the sin or more soiled the heart and soul, the mercy is less, and more time and intensity of purging is required to make a sinner a saint. For only saints enter heaven. However, those who suffer through, will find with each passing moment that the intensity of purging lessens, until the pain is no more, forever. The chains forged by our wanton indiscretions that have restrained our rightful claim to our inheritance in Christ are now fallen away. That is the joy of Purgatory. It is not a no, it is a wait. Hell has its own slogan for those in life who have rejected God’s love and forgiveness out of bitterness, ego or other reason of unwillingness toward obedience to that which ensures the best of life’s offerings. That slogan, sadly, is posted above the entrance to Hell: “Abandon all hope, those who enter here.”

We who share a suffering with Christ can not turn to Him as the thief on Calvary in that moment in history; though what an honor and blessing that would be. But, we still can turn to Him at any time during life, and should. For, who among us can guarantee that when we close our eyes to this day, that we will open them to the next. If we do not turn to Christ for forgiveness when alive, it will then be too late to do so after death. Our eternal fate will then rest upon the mercy of the Heavenly Landowner.

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What Dreams May Come

Madness comes to those who abandon all hope.

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

Hamlet: “To die, to sleep–No more–and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”
Hamlet, III.i.60-68 – Shakespear

Hamlet is tortured with the fear that there might not be peace even in death as he contemplates suicide. In that, Hamlet regards the result of death as a mystery. As it is to any mortal. What dreams may come does give pause. A pause, in particular, for him who is considering suicide. For we fear what may, if anything, lie beyond the grave. And, as well, fear that if there is an after, what place do we have in it?…

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And With The Light, Darkness Fades

All of life is a devotion to one of two things: light or darkness. What we choose makes us either an advocate of peace or war.

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

” And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness.” – John 1: 5

I have had sleepless nights, as I believe many have experienced, at one time or another. Possibly due to a stressful day or some excitement for what tomorrow is about to bring. My particular case had not a thing to do with any of those causes for loss of sleep mentioned.

It was the last night of summer vacation. I was to be up early the next morning to attend a faculty meeting and classroom set-up, for the beginning of the new school year. As one might assume, the change from summer’s sleep habits, coupled with the anticipation of the start of school; was reason enough for my soon to be restless night. However, my nocturnal trial, actually, would come at the hands of a squirrel.

As I lay down to…

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Be Not Envious Of That Which Is Not Ours

Just when so many of us who are so preoccupied with our own trials feel isolated there then comes along a story of one who makes us feel that what we shoulder each day is not so bad at all.

There is a story of a person who was so dissatisfied with the cross he had to bear in life that he prayed that he could change it for another. So one night in a dream Christ came to him and showed him a room filled with an endless variety of crosses. Christ then said to him if he was not happy with his present cross to choose one of those. So he entered the room and placed his cross in the room as he entered. After a long while of trying different crosses he chose one. He then excitedly brought the chosen cross to Christ and said: “This is it!” Christ replied: “Very well, but that is the cross you came in with.

We are who we are with all of our baggage, of our choosing or not. All the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Christ in solidarity with us chose not to come down from the cross on Calvary. For to come down would be human, to hang there is divine. He would not let us suffer alone, thereby, giving meaning to suffering. Suffering like struggling paves the way for a greater good. No greater good is there than that which comes from an act of love. And no greater love is there than to give up one’s life for a friend. The Creator gave up His for His creatures.

There are 4 things in this world that are striven for by man and woman. They are wealth, pleasure, power and honor. None of those are on the cross that Christ embraced. Wealth? He possessed but the clothes he wore. Pleasure? He was scourged and crucified. Power? He was pinned to the cross. Honor? He was humiliated, spite upon and ridiculed. So what then are we left with there upon that cross with those most sought after things missing? We are left with, a happy man.

That which we don’t possess can not possess us. In this freedom is joy.

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