POPE'S MESSAGE | Christmas offers lesson in humility

Pope Francis replaced his zucchetto after a young boy removed it during an audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 14. The audience was held for families who have been receiving care at the St. Martha Dispensary, a maternal and pediatric clinic located at the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis said Christmas is an occasion of joy but also a lesson in humility, when the faithful are called to imitate the example of God-made-man.

The pope made his remarks Dec. 18, during his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square.

"God abases Himself, descends to earth as someone small and poor, which means that to be like Him we should not put ourselves above others, but on the contrary, abase ourselves, give ourselves in service, make ourselves small with the small and poor with the poor," he said.

Wisconsin woman makes home for Holy Family with Nativity set collection

A Nativity scene and wall decoration depicting the birth of Christ were seen in the home of Verna Bechard in New London, Wis. At Christmas time, Bechard displays nearly 200 Nativity sets that she’s collected over the years.

NEW LONDON, Wis. -- Every Christmas season, Verna Bechard's home is transformed into a gallery of Nativity sets.

Scenes of the first Christmas in Bethlehem fill nearly every curio cabinet, coffee table, mantel, window sill, hutch and cupboard in her spacious New London home. Today, the collection of Nativity sets numbers 193, with 30 from foreign countries.

Bechard purchased the first set in 1950 to replace one her mother owned.

Volunteer shines brightly fixing thrift store donations

Andy Vescova, 91, comes each week with his homemade testing device to check donated electrical items at the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Ballwin thrift store. Vescova was able to repair this donated light fixture, which the store put up for sale at $5.

Andy Vescova was perched on a stool, hunched over a large, brass light fixture. He hooked up the light's electrical cord to an old, brown wooden box full of circuitry and lights -- an old invention of his that he uses to test for continuity in electrical items.

'Shining faces' light up volunteers at holiday events

Judy Krenn, left, received wisdom of longevity from Katherine Jennings, 83, while delivering Christmas presents at St. Raymond’s Apartments in St. Louis. Krenn is a youth minister at Holy Name of Jesus Parish and was leading student volunteers from Christ Light of the Nations School as part of the St. Vincent de Paul Parish outreach program.

Katherine Jennings, a petite but spry woman, had a big smile as seven students from Christ Light of the Nations School in Spanish Lake stood at her apartment door and sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

When they finished, they handed her a neatly wrapped Christmas gift and a bag with canned goods, a chicken and fresh fruit.

But Jennings wasn't ready for them to go on their way. She asked each one to guess her age. Knowing it was an apartment complex for seniors, the guesses were over age 65 but not by much.

Rejoice! God has come to us

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson blessed the new offices of the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri in Shrewsbury Dec. 12. The foundation was launched earlier this year to provide individuals with the opportunity to invest in various initiatives supported by the Church. Mark Guyol is the president of the foundation.

Last week I wrote about the seven signs that suggest we are prepared for Christ's return this Christmas. Well, ready or not, Christ has come again. Rejoice! God has once again come to us in the form of a man like us, born of a virgin in the humblest of circumstances, to save us from our sins.

THE GOOD STEWARD | Stewardship saves Christmas

Dan Conway

During this time of year -- which the Church calls Advent but the secular world knows as the pre-Christmas shopping season -- Christians experience a profound tension. The Church urges us to prepare for Christ's coming again by intensified prayer, fasting and sharing with others. That's not the message our culture proclaims now.

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