In today’s paper-less society, it’s no small wonder that the art of writing thank-you notes has fallen to the wayside. Yet according to CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman, those who do take the time to write notes of gratitude consequently wind up feeling more grateful themselves. It was ultimately 60 Minutes correspondent Byron Pitts who convinced Hartman to try his hand at writing the forgotten “thank you.”  Pitts constantly pens thank-you letters to this day and continues to believe in… Read more

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once shared these thoughts about Jesus’ birth: “[Joseph] searched for a place for the birth of him to whom heaven and earth belonged…Certainly, thought Joseph, there would be room in the village inn. There was room for the rich; there was room for everyone who had a tip to give to the innkeeper. But when finally the scrolls of history are completed…the saddest line of all will be: There was no room in the inn. “But… Read more

Former American Idol contestant and Grammy-nominated gospel singer Mandisa remembers one Christmas when loneliness threatened to overcome her. She was attending Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and didn’t have enough money to fly home for the holiday. Instead of feeling depressed, the singer decided to spend Christmas day reading all the gospels so she could feel closer to Jesus.  Ever since then, she’s been able to focus on the religious significance of the holiday without getting too distracted by shopping,… Read more

When Elizabeth Scalia’s brother was dying in a hospice in December, 2004, he read an article by a columnist denouncing Christmas.  Despite his suffering, he responded to that article with a letter of his own that Scalia posted on her blog. Her brother praised the doctors and nurses who took care of dying patients like himself, noting that none of them were as sour as this particular columnist. He said, “Christmas, they will tell you, keeps people alive—even terribly, horrifically… Read more

George Frederick Handel lived to see his oratorio, The Messiah, become a cherished tradition.  First performed in Ireland in 1742, the work achieved fame eight years later in London. Few people realize, though, that this masterpiece was composed by Handel in 21 days during a desperate frenzy of inspiration.  Hounded by creditors, he struggled against failing eyesight to finish what he felt would be his greatest work. The composer’s own suffering gave vibrancy and depth to the Messiah’s theme: “Come… Read more

Christmas for Forgotten Angels Though Clarence Adams didn’t know much about homelessness when he got a job as a counselor at a New Orleans, Louisiana, homeless shelter 17 years ago, he was especially moved by the plight of the children he saw there. As Christmas drew near, he felt even more sorry for them because all they would have to look forward to is Christmas dinner in the shelter with hundreds of strangers.  As reported by Voice of America news,… Read more

There is a Victorian saying stating that children are to be seen but not heard.  Yet according to Catholic News Service’s David Gibson, children today need to be less ignored and better understood. To this end, Gibson offers five brief but powerful truths regarding the importance of children: 1. Children possess great dignity; they are signs of God.  Children embody Christ’s image inside and outside of the Church. 2. Children frequently test their parents’ patience. “Willfulness” is normal amongst young… Read more

Twenty-one-year-old Haylee Cain felt alone and hopeless.  Afflicted with cerebral palsy which affects her arms and legs, her grandfather could no longer take care of her. She was placed in an Alabama nursing home for senior citizens. Then, Michelle Eubanks of the Florence, Alabama, newspaper The Times Daily, wrote a story about Haylee’s situation.  Donna and Judson Emens, who had befriended Haylee when she was a young girl, saw the article and went to visit her.  After seeing how sad… Read more

With so much focus on December 25, we sometimes forget that the Christmas season doesn’t end on Christmas Day, it begins then.  Nick Wagner, writing in U.S. Catholic, makes some suggestions for a modern celebration of the 12 days of Christmas: Wait until Christmas Eve to add the star to your tree.  Mark St. Stephen’s feast on December 26 by helping the poor, and St. John’s feast the next day by reconciling with others.  Make time for loved ones on… Read more

Many years ago, Albert Rosen, a Jewish salesman in Milwaukee, decided to help a Christian better enjoy Christmas. Rosen called the local newspapers and offered to fill in, without pay, for any Christian who was scheduled to work on Christmas Eve.  He explained, “I see so many unfortunate people who aren’t able to be with their families on Christmas Eve.” After receiving about a dozen calls, Albert decided to relieve a bartender who hadn’t been home on Christmas Eve in… Read more

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