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Minute Meditations

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Look to the Stars

I love going out in the yard in the winter to look at the stars. The clear, cold air makes them seem brighter. Different stars are visible in the winter than at other times of the year. As the constellations wheel overhead, there’s a sense of vast possibility in the universe, but also a sense of permanence. The sun, the moon, the stars, and our own earth travel through time and space but there’s nothing random about those movements. Each has an orbit, an appointed path to travel. Our lives, too, have an appointed path. We move through the seasons of the year, and the seasons of a lifetime. Sometimes it seems as though the only constant is constant change. But the eternal feasts of the Christmas season remind us that the eternal keeps our feet grounded on the earth and our eyes fixed on God’s star, the plan God has for each of our lives.


—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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At Home or on the Road, God Is with Us

No matter how much we try to extend the holiday with traveling and vacation time and a last party or two, there comes a time when we need to return to our daily activities and responsibilities. School starts up again, work beckons, and we have to bid farewell to Christmas once again. It can be refreshing to reclaim the space that was filled with the Christmas tree and other decorations. We forsake the Christmas cookies and boxes of candy for healthier food choices in the new year. If we’ve traveled to visit family, we return home, put away the suitcases, finish vacation laundry, and settle into our lives. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus traveled a great deal during the first years after the birth—back and forth to Jerusalem, a sojourn in Egypt, a return to their home in Nazareth. In later years, Luke’s Gospel tells us, they traveled on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where Jesus was separated from his parents and found conversing with holy teachers in the temple. Whether we’re traveling or at home, the one thing we know is that God is with us.

—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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Mary, Mother of God

Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart!” (Luke 2:19). In these words, Luke describes the attitude with which Mary took in all that they had experienced in those days. Far from trying to understand or master the situation, Mary is the woman who can treasure, that is to say, protect and guard in her heart, the passage of God in the life of his people. Deep within, she had learned to listen to the heartbeat of her Son, and that in turn taught her, throughout her life, to discover God’s heartbeat in history. She learned how to be a mother, and in that learning process she gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is to be a Son. In Mary, the eternal Word not only became flesh, but also learned to recognize the maternal tenderness of God. With Mary, the God-Child learned to listen to the yearnings, the troubles, the joys and the hopes of the people of the promise. With Mary, he discovered himself a Son of God’s faithful people.

—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

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