Pope Francis Visits Pope Emeritus Benedict for Christmas

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Visiting friends and family on Christmas … papal style.

We had a wonderful and blessed Christmas Eve with our granddaughter and her parents; mass, supper and a first-ever tour of the Christmas lights for baby girl.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Have a blessed, holy and happy day.

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Our Salvation Begins Where the Human Story Always Begins. It Starts with a Baby.

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I spent several hours yesterday wrapping presents.

And I still have a couple of really tough-to-wrap presents to go.

That, and I need to buy one more gift for one of my sons since the mail isn’t going to get what I already bought here in time.

My husband went to Advent confession this week. I confessed a while back.

My daughters-in-law are pitching in to help with the Christmas cooking, as is the best friend of one of my kids that I call my adopted son.

I’m not going to super clean the house for Christmas. I don’t have enough gas in my tank. I’ve been lick-and-promising this place for a year now, and I’ve got to do more as soon as I can. Every closet, every drawer, needs to be emptied, rearranged and the no-longer-needed things sent along to Goodwill.

I’ve been working on a slightly complex piano solo of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, one with variations and pretty additions, for a while now. I’m also learning George Winston’s version of Carol of the Bells. It’s pretty stuff … when somebody else plays it. With me, it’s sort of plunky. But I love the doing of it.

One reason it took so long last night when I was wrapping was that I spent quite a bit of time playing with my granddaughter’s new toys. She’s 11 months of miracle, and her toys are the most fun of any gift under the tree. One, a bug-like thing that’s incredibly soft and squishy and that makes lots of cute little sounds every time you touch it, makes me laugh every time I fool with it.

Christmas with a baby is the absolute best of life.

Here are the things that matter most:

My granddaughter’s laughter.

Her sweet little self, snuggled against me in bed while we count fingers and toes.

Making baby girl sandwiches with her Paw-Paw in which we kiss and squish her from both sides as she giggles with delight.

My two tall sons who are both good men of gentle and loving character. I am so proud of both of them.

My 91-year-old baby girl, my Mama, who never stops telling me how much she loves me and whose eyes always glow with love when she looks at me.

My husband who sometimes doesn’t understand me in the Mars-Venus way that men usually don’t understand their wives, but who is my other half, my spouse, my friend and my love.

My few friends — it is always a very few for any of us — who stick with me even when they disagree with me, and who pulled together to form “Team Becky” to get me through the tough year just past.

My Church which is a highway to heaven, if we will just have the humility to walk its way.

The pastors I’ve been blessed with, good men who try their best to be good shepherds.

My country, my beloved country.

My guardian angels who have walked me through more than one fire.

St Michael the Archangel, who, odd as this sounds, feels like a friend.

And first, foremost and forever, my Jesus and His dear mother.

I did my best in my own uninformed way, to consecrate my efforts to Mary’s … how do I put this? … to her disbursement of them. I did this a couple of years ago.

I pray every night for everyone I know who has died and for all those who don’t have anyone to pray for them. I pray and give them whatever weak merits I’ve earned. I place those merits in her hands to use according to Jesus’ will.

I don’t fully understand what I’m doing. But I just ask Jesus’ mother to use whatever good I can do in a way that it will do what Jesus wants.

I can’t do that myself because I don’t know enough. But she can.

That’s the key and the core of Christmas as I understand it. Because of that birth in a humble stable of a baby boy that, even then, the powers of this world wanted to wipe from existence, we are free to approach the throne of God. We have access to God made man and His mother, to whom He entrusted us.

The Old Testament tells us that no one can look on the face of God and live.

But the shepherds did. The wise men did. And we can.

God made Himself as weak and humble as possible to allow us to see Him and know Him.

There is no sound in this world sweeter than the laughter of a baby.

There is no hand so soft, belly so kissable, no face so trusting and pure as the face of a baby.

There is also no human more vulnerable, more helpless, more in need of our constant care and love. Without love, babies literally waste away and die.

As do we all.

We no longer have to say that if we look on the face of God we will die. We can look to the manger and the helpless baby lying there and see God, shorn of His glory in an act of love for us.

Life, all human life is sacred. Because He made it so.

You and I matter, because we matter to Him.

I love my granddaughter with a the same blinding love that I felt for my own babies. I would kill or die, and never care which one it was, to protect her.

That, my friends, is how God feels about every single one of us. He became one of us to save us. He died for us.

Our salvation begins where the human story always begins. It starts with a baby.

Merry Christmas my dear friends. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.


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There’s a Man in My Front Yard with a Gun

Christmas at my house. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Christmas at my house. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I want to thank each of you who has written to me with your kind words and excellent advice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers. Please continue praying. I need it.

Have a blessed and Holy Christmas this year. Remember always that you are God’s precious child.

I wrote a post about cancer and Christmas and my house for the National Catholic Register. I was thinking of each of you when I wrote it.

Here’s part of what I said:

The House district that I represented for 18 years is more than a bit incomprehensible to outsiders. And by outsiders, I mean anyone and everyone who didn’t spawn in that pond of which both I and the people I represented are from.

I remember trying to explain to another legislator why my constituents reacted to issues as they did. His constituents were constantly in a kerfuffle over whatever hot-button issue du jour was rocking the world at the time. My constituents were steady on about these things. They just trusted my judgment and let me have at it in those areas.

But there were things that they would not abide. Fortunately for me, my constituents and I were one in all this. We thought and, more importantly, felt, alike because we were woven of the same threads.

My colleague didn’t “get” this. It was opaque to him and I wasn’t sure how to explain it so that he could understand.

I thought about the forces that shaped behavior where I was from: the poverty, threat of violence, and powerful sense of community, the us-against-them attitude that kept us together and rolling. How could I explain this to my colleague for whom these things, this way of thinking and being, was alien? Finally, I hit on a metaphor.

When there’s a man in the front yard with a gun, it focuses your attention. I said.

I don’t know if I communicated adequately with my colleague, but for me it was the perfect and absolute explanation. Life has priorities and some of those priorities require all your attention. More than that, they shape your way of reacting to every other priority, and they re-order you personal hierarchy of needs, boiling away the fat and leaving you with the hard bone of whatever reality sustains you.

I am dealing with such a priority right now.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/thanks-to-my-cancer-this-may-be-one-of-our-best-christmases-ever/#ixzz3vBWPIpQe

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If You’re Catholic, Christmas Isn’t a Day. It’s a Season.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Catholics don’t regard Christmas as one, big rousing day of overeating and gift giving.

We see it as a joyful season of the Church. It lasts right up until we celebrate the visit the Wise Men paid to the baby Jesus.

That kind of season thinking is hard for Americans, tied as we are to jobs and paychecks. We feel lucky if we can get off work long enough to celebrate that one big day. But a “Season?”

No can do.

I understand this well. I’ve never been able to really “do” a Church season. I was too beset by other things. But I’m going to attempt doing Christmas the Catholic way this year, which is to say, that I’m going to do a bit of extended Christmassing.

Our family had the really big deal one-day celebration along with everyone else yesterday. We did mass on Christmas Eve; present opening and feasting on Christmas Day. It was beautiful. And wonderful. And blessed in every way.

Now, I’m sitting here in my housecoat after having cleaned the kitchen floor and eaten a piece of leftover chocolate cream pie for breakfast. I also dusted The Precious and took a look at my office.

My office has become the place I put things I plan to do later. It’s cluttered with stacks of books I plan to read, and paintings, plaques and other framed thingys I brought home from my office at the capitol six months ago.

I walked in there, flush with the anticipation of free time to “do” things and thought, “I need to hang those paintings/plaques/whatnot and I need to buy bookshelves for those books and put them in the music/prayer room that I want to create in the room where The Precious lives.”

Then I thought, “Nope.”

It’s Christmas Season and I’m not going to spend Christmas Season working. I’ll Do It Later.”

Of course “I’ll Do It Later” is why those books are stacked up and the paintings/plaques/whatnots are stacked against the wall.

But it is Christmas Season, the first real, live Christmas Season I’ve had the opportunity to take since I converted.

I am going to do my best to just bask in the miracle of God made human, of a Heavenly Father Who loves you and me so much that He came down here to live in the muck with the rest of us as the adopted baby boy of a humble carpenter. Our Lord and Savior Who was born as an outcast in a conquered land, born in a stable and Who had a stone manger for His first crib, is born again this Christmas season in our hearts.

I want to ponder, without the intrusions of our beautiful day of celebrating, the miracle of His birth. I want to consider that the great I Am Who made everything, everywhere, consented to be one of us, and that He gave us this beautiful message that being one of us, meant, from the beginning, that He was one of the Least of These.

I sit here in my comfortable chair in a house with central air and heat that is so efficient I have to step outside to know if the weather has turned cold or not. I wonder what it was like on that cold desert night, in a cave/stable.

The shepherds came — shepherds, not kings, not even the local rabbi — but shepherds, dressed in the same clothes they wore when herding sheep and sleeping on the ground. They came because the angels sent them, choosing, once again, to emphasize that this newborn King was not a king of palaces and pomp, but the Son of a God Who loves us all, loves us each and every one, and Who is not, never has been and never will be, a respecter of persons.

Angels from on high announced the coming of the Good Shepherd to humble shepherds who were tending their flocks in the fields.

This is our salvation.

This is who we are called to be. We are the leaven in the Kingdom, the mustard seed, the salt of the earth. We have in our hearts and in our knowledge of Him, the Pearl of Great Price, the only hope that exists for suffering, dying humanity.

The Hope of the World spent His first night in a stone manger in a stable with his two humble earthly parents. The Shepherds came, because, out of all the people roundabout on that night, the angels were sent to them to announce His birth.

“In getting and spending we lay waste our powers,” William Wordsworth wrote.

We have to make a living. There is no way around that. Jesus Himself worked for most of His earthly life at the trade of carpenter. He did not eschew work.

But we are not the things we make with our labors, nor are we the sum of our income or our passing achievements. Our “powers” reside in our ability to love and live and create life that is worth living for ourselves, our families and our world.

Labor is part of that, but only a part. The thing which gives it dignity, which makes it worth doing, is that ability to build people by raising our children properly, and by living lives of honesty, love, dignity and faith. Our lives take on value and eternal meaning to the extent that we live them in Him, through Him and for Him. Every good thing follows from that.

I know most of you who read this will be at work today. I also know that, for the first time, ever, I have the opportunity to do it differently from that.

I’m going to take off a few days this Christmas season and ponder the miracle. I’ll pray for those of you who don’ t have this opportunity. Remember that no matter what work you must do, the purpose and the meaning of it is not in the paycheck. The purpose and the meaning of our work is always in our love for Our Lord and the good we bring to this world by loving other people.

I will moderate comments, so feel free to continue your discussions. I’ll be back January 7, after the Epiphany of Our Lord.


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Merry Christmas from My House to Yours

Merry Christmas my friends.

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Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All rights reserved.

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Heaven on Earth

Christmas and The Precious.

Does it get any better?


Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

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The Skinny on Christmas

Photo Source: morgueFile.com

Photo Source: morgueFile.com

The Skit Guys give us the skinny on Christmas.

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What is it with MSNBC and Sarah Palin?

Why do the folks at MSNBC keep jabbing themselves in the eye with the Sarah Palin stick?

Are they mental?

Or, are they just so utterly and completely drunk with group-think expressed as hatred that they are verging on the non-functional?

In just the past few weeks, one of their commenters, Martin Bashir, has had to resign because of public outcry over an attack on Governor Palin. This particular rant was a deeply offensive mix of pornography, misogyny and just plain revolting vileness. Here’s the link, if you have the stomach for it.

If that was the only Governor Palin attack piece, it would be enough to discredit this news network as a legitimate journalistic body. Resignation or not, they put this on the air.

But Mr Bashir’s vicious speech was only the cherry on top of what amounts to an on-going Sarah Palin hate troupe passing for a news organization.

The latest salvo (that I know about) first came to my attention by way of a post from fellow Patheosi, Bristol Palin. The attack comes from a reporter named Joy Reid. This particular anti-Palin blast moves the news organization from the vicious and pornographic to the laughable and absurd.

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Ms Reid’s comments about the Governor appear to be primarily a side-step into a rather snotty attack on her faith. I don’t agree with many of Governor Palin’s political ideas. But I do agree with her about her faith.

Governor Palin is a Christian. I am also a Christian. If you want to know what I believe, look at the Apostle’s Creed.

While I have never seen a specific outline of the particulars of Governor Palin’s personal understanding of Christianity, I tend to think it aligns with the Apostles Creed that I believe. So, the Governor and I have our faith in common. We are also both women. More than that, we are women who have held elective office.

That gives me a lot in common with Governor Sarah Palin. I don’t, as I said, agree with all her political positions. But if you attack her as a woman, or if you attack her as a Christian, I am going to stand with her.

I think these constant attacks on her — which are totally unprofessional from a journalistic standpoint — are driven by a couple of things. First, she’s a woman who got close to the center of power in our country. Every time that happens, whether the woman in question is conservative Governor Palin or liberal Senator Clinton, the MSNBC misogyny team cranks up their attacks.

Does anyone besides me remember the 2008 presidential campaign? President Obama — President Abortion — used misogyny to get himself elected. One of his number-one spokesmen for the misogynist attacks against Senator Clinton in the nomination fight and then Governor Palin in the presidential election was MSNBC, in particular Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. For instance, guess who made the legs crossing comment Katie Couric refers to in the video below?

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I think that the continued attacks on Governor Palin are partly due to the overt misogyny of that news organization.

I think the second motivator in MSNBC’s obsession with Governor Palin is that she is a traditional Christian. Notice the way Ms Reid turns this attack on the governor’s family Christmas reminiscences into an attack on her faith. Notice also the last line challenging what Ms Reid seems to assume is the Governor’s belief that there is “one meaning to Christmas.”

That’s pretty ignorant. It is, after all, Christ – mas, as in Christ Mass. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. That’s the meaning and reason for Christmas.

There is no law in this country and never has been forcing anyone to believe that. I have never seen a Christian try to deny those who don’t believe it their enjoyment in the tinsel, great food and presents of Christmas.

But those who don’t believe it seem hell bent (I meant that literally) on forcing Christians to stop talking about the birth of Christ. They even go so far as to make fools of themselves attacking Christians the way Ms Reid does in this video.

This is not the only time Ms Reid has exhibited an anti-Christian bias. In the video below she discusses the “homo-erotic appearance” of Jesus’ relationship with the 12 Apostles with — get this — a professor at Georgetown University. Georgetown University claims to be a Catholic school, run by Jesuits. Notice that the reason for this drubbing is that “bigoted” Christians support traditional marriage as it has been practiced for the past 2,000 years.

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Even a casual watch of these videos should raise the question as to what is going on at MSNBC.

More specifically, what is it with MSNBC and Governor Sarah Palin in particular and Christians in general?

Are they mental? Or are they just so full of hate that they don’t care about how shoddy and cheap they make themselves and their news organization look?


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Pope Emeritus Has Lunch with Pope

Pope Emeritus Benedict made the short trip to have lunch with Pope Francis.

It still seems strange to me that we have two living popes. I applaud the way that these men have handled this unprecedented situation.

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Pope Francis: Christ Transforms Death Into the Dawn of New Life


The second day of Christmas — today — is St Stephen’s Day.

Why would the Church remember the first martyr, a Deacon who was stoned to death for his faith, in the middle of this most joyous season of the year?

I think that St Stephen’s martyrdom is a reminder to all of us that we are crowned with eternal life, but that crown has thorns. In this world, the peace and joy of Christmas are blunted by reminders of the suffering of our persecuted brothers and sisters, as well as the challenges to religious liberty and freedom of conscience here at home.

We no longer live in a Christian nation. We live in post Christian America. This is a fact we all need to absorb. The more you speak for Jesus, the more you will be attacked. Do not let that deter you from taking a stand for Christ. Remember that you are an immortal soul who wears the crown of eternal life. Know that whatever people may try to do to you, Our God will find a way to use it for the good of His Church.

Pope Francis spoke of this great hope that sustains us, as well as the sobering reality of present-day Christian persecution in his St Stephen’s Day homily. St Stephen was the first martyr. Christian martyrs of the 21st Century join him every day.

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