BEFORE THE CROSS | Seven signs we are ready for Christmas

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson recently visited Msgr. Luis Mesa, the superior of the Messengers of Peace, a mission and religious community based in Colombia. The community is dedicated to praying for peace in that nation and around the world. The mission serves children, the elderly and poor in Colombia. The archbishop co-founded the Messengers of Peace with Msgr. Mesa, shown renewing his vows.

Advent is a time of preparation for the Lord's coming again at Christmas and at the end of time. Although Advent is not as strict a penitential season as Lent, the Church does call us to pray, fast and do good works while we ready ourselves for the future joy of Christ's coming.

How do we know that our preparations have been successful? What are some of the signs of our being ready to once again welcome our Lord to our world and to our personal lives?

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Invite Jesus into your heart this Christmas

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

With Christmas nearing, what preparations have you made to welcome Christ into the depths of your heart?

In today's first reading, Ahaz, the king of Judah, just received word that two kings are on their way to invade and destroy Judah. At this news "the heart of the king and the heart of the people trembled, as leaves of the forest tremble in the wind."

Birthday party for baby Jesus evokes real meaning of season

Theresa Angeli, 15, and her little sister Connie, 2, were among those who participated in crafts, storytelling and cake at a special Birthday Party for Baby Jesus Dec. 8 at Pauline Books and Media in Crestwood. For almost two decades, the Daughters of St. Paul have marked the Christ child’s birth every year with a family-friendly party that has drawn hundreds.

It can incredibly difficult these days for parents to keep Jesus as the focus of the Christmas season. But a tradition started by the Daughters of St. Paul almost 20 years ago is helping families keep Him at the center of their Christmas celebrations.

Approximately 125 families people attended the sisters' annual "Birthday Party for Baby Jesus" Dec. 8 at the community's Pauline Books and Media store in Crestwood. The daylong event featured birthday cake, storytelling and crafts, a visit from the Knights of Columbus clowns and free family photos at a manger scene.

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