Why we do this

We spend hours wrapping, and seconds unwrapping. Days cooking, and minutes eating. Season's decorating, and hours putting it all away.

Amidst it all, it can be tempting to see Christmas as something of a commodity, or "something we just do this time of year."

It's not.

We welcome family and friends, eat delicious food, and decorate our homes as a way to celebrate the greatest gift God could give us: Himself.

But he's not done. The Lord of the Crib is waiting to break into your life anew this Christmas season. Together, let's open our ears and hearts to the wonder of his love.

Merry Christmas!

Full-court press

If you're a basketball fan, you know what the term "full-court press" means. If you're not, let me explain:

Instead of the defense scaling back to the other end of the court to defend their basket, they "press(ure)" the offense the full length of the court, hoping to force a turnover. This usually happens when the defense is desperate, with little time left in the game.

A week from today is Christmas. And perhaps these last few weeks of Advent you wish you'd done more to prepare your heart for the birth of The Lord.

If that's you, I want you to stop hanging your head and know there's still time.

Break out the spiritual full court press these next seven days and...

1. Go to confession.

2. Schedule (and I do mean schedule) 10 minutes, each day, to pray by yourself or with your family.

3. Call or visit someone you know who feels lonely or forgotten.

4. Take a water break if necessary.

Go.

This is a special week for our family.

Our son Joseph turns two on Friday. That's also the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (And as many of you know, that wasn't a coincidence.)

Many months before, we prayed her novena asking for her special protection for him. We also asked that he be born on her feast, Dec. 12th.

Our Lady's words to St. Juan Diego rang true for us that day and they will for you as well.

In your brokenness, in your prayers, run to Our Lady. Ask her to guide you in your journey to her Son, as she forever reminds the Church and the world those beautiful words she spoke to St. Juan Diego in the year 1531:

"Am I not here, I who am your Mother?"

My new pair of shoes.

Years ago, I remember buying a new pair of running shoes thinking they would make me faster. They were expensive, highly marketed, and promised so much.

The strangest thing happened a few weeks later...I realized I was just as slow with my new pair of shoes than I was with my old ones.

Sure, they were a little more comfortable (and a lot cleaner), but nothing else really changed.

And though I wanted to blame the shoes, I knew I couldn't.

See, I didn't actually put any extra work into getting faster. I just convinced myself that buying a new pair of shoes would do the work for me.

What does this have to do with our faith?

That older Bible, plastic rosary, and free prayer app for your smart phone (I like this one) work just fine. The question is, are you putting the work in?