Tuesday 21st February 2017

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Garlands In The Sky

December 22, 2013 Frontpage No Comments

By DEREK BECHER

The winter winds blew early that year, bringing a record snowfall to Jubilee County. By November, the country roads were impassable, as frosty drifts gathered and grew along the roadsides, especially where the woods crept toward their shoulders. A week later, country residents had already assembled their horse-drawn wagons and sleighs for the first trips into town, which became less frequent because of the duration of the round-trip excursion to Merry Vale. Winter had indeed arrived early, and with the thick blanket of snow that it had brought, it was there to stay.
For Marie and her brother, Matthew, that first snowfall brought dreams of Christmas, as always. Before long, their town would be decorated with the symbols of the season. Twinkling candles and shiny wreaths would adorn street posts; frosty snow and elaborate holiday images would bring color to the inside of storefront windows; the town Christmas tree would again be wrapped with colorful lights, decorated with tinsel, and topped with an angel; and the wooden Nativity scene would again be set at the front of Town Hall, welcoming visitors from everywhere.
Together, they loved the beauty and the color of the Christmas season, and they savored every opportunity to wander through town, becoming immersed in the splendor.
As November progressed and eventually drew to a close, Marie became excited with the thought of a Christmas present she had planned to buy for her parents. Hers was a simple family, and money for decorations and lights and fancy ornaments just wasn’t part of the family budget.
But Marie had convinced the town’s merchants that she could clean their sidewalks every morning and after school, if necessary, and she even offered to deliver their weekly fliers. In exchange, she would be able to earn the money she would need to buy her secret gift — a Christmas wreath.
She had seen it hanging in the window of the town department store. It was a glorious wreath, thick with evergreen foliage, and it cradled a gathering of bright red holly berries, acorns, walnuts, and even a few fine strands of tinsel. In its middle sat an arrangement of three plastic candles of differing heights.
“Oh, how this would beautify our home,” Marie thought, realizing too that it would bring a touch of Christmas nature into their home that year. They always put up a tree, but it was always bare, except for a few strings of popcorn. Now she would be able to add some sparkle, light, and decoration to their Christmas experience.
For four weeks, Marie rode into town atop her father’s sleigh, bundled up in her winter clothing early in the chill of a winter morning, sharing her secret only with her brother Matthew. When she was dropped off at school, she would run into her classroom — always the first to arrive — to set her books and lunch bag on her desk. Then, she returned down the front sidewalk from the school and hurried along the block to Main Street. Quickly, but properly, Marie would clear the snow and ice from the sidewalks in front of the shops along the two blocks of Main Street, always pausing in front of the department store to admire the wreath, which seemed to sparkle as it reflected the colorful lights that surrounded it.
Occasionally, Matthew accompanied her, and followed behind with a broom as she pushed the snow with her wooden shovel. It was a short labor of love that they performed every morning that snowy December, and they always finished to a grateful “thank you” from the storekeepers, and returned to school in time for their first classes.
Often, the snow continued throughout the day, and Marie and her brother would return after their last classes. Again, they’d clear the walks, finishing in time to now enjoy the colorful lights and decorations that shone along the street in the darkening sky. Across the street from them, the town Christmas tree stood proudly, spreading its colors throughout the yard in which it stood, and beside it, the lovely Nativity scene glowed behind the yellow and blue floodlights that sprayed it.
It really was a sight worth appreciating. Still, they always made their way back to school in time for the 5:00 rendezvous with their father, who was unaware of the extracurricular work that they were involved with.
At last, Christmas Eve arrived, and Marie and Matthew rose excited, looking forward to their final day in school before the holidays. Their mother was already baking fresh buns and gingerbread cookies as they sat for breakfast, and the delicious aromas filled their home. Marie looked up to an empty space on the wall beside their kitchen, across from the window, and pictured how perfectly the wreath would fill that spot.
As the children quickly finished, and put on their winter clothing, they bid farewell to their mother and joined their father outside, where he was already preparing the sleigh.

Her Worst Fear

A light snow fell as they rode into town, and Marie whispered for Matthew’s help to clear the walks, one last time. They dropped their things off at school, and Matthew joined his older sister as she hurried to Main Street. When they finished the walks, Marie collected the money that she had earned from the shopkeepers, and counted eight dollars in her hands. She looked at Matthew and exclaimed, “I did it! I have enough money to buy that beautiful wreath that’s in the front window of the department store!”
Matthew simply smiled, pleased that he was able to help his sister, and skipped along with her as she grinned all the way back to school.
Both of the children took part in Christmas celebrations in their classrooms that day, and spent the whole time playing with their friends, singing, and listening to music and to stories of Christmas, and enjoying candy treats and fudge that their teachers brought in. Marie secretly spied the clock often throughout the day, till at last, after all their celebrating, the bell rang at 3:15.
Marie had one thought in her mind as she stepped out of the school, and as soon as she found Matthew, she hurried to the department store. For four weeks she had cleared the walks along Main Street, all the while imagining the color and beauty she would be able to give to her parents. At last, she would have the wreath, and her Christmas dream would unfold.
They hurried down the first block of Main Street, crossed the road, and arrived at the front of the department store. Marie looked up with anticipating eyes for a final view of her treasure; but she stopped in her tracks, and her jaw fell open in disbelief. The Christmas wreath, with its berries, candles, acorns, walnuts, and tinsel, was gone!
She anxiously pulled the front door open, and Matthew followed her as she rushed in. She held on to a hope that perhaps the wreath had only been moved, but the shopkeeper confirmed her worst fear when he said, “Sorry, Marie, but someone came in this afternoon and bought that wreath; it was my last one. I wish I’d known you wanted it.”
Marie’s world seemed to crash in front of her. Gone was the hope for a bright and colorful Christmas home. Gone was the gift that she worked so long for, so hard for, to buy for her parents. Matthew followed her as she walked slowly out the front door.
They crossed the street and sat on a bench beside the town Christmas tree. Marie looked up at the empty window across the street, and began to softly cry. “What will I give my parents now,” she wondered.
A moment of silence followed; but Matthew turned to his sister, then, and said, “Marie, do you remember what the priest said in church last week? He said, ‘Remember that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.’ Maybe you could give something to Jesus?”
Marie looked at her little brother, and paused, to clear her mind. Then, a sparkle seemed to appear in her teary eyes as a tingling feeling swept through her. Looking in his eyes, she sighed, then smiled, and said, “You’re right, Matthew. Maybe there’s a better way I can spend this eight dollars.”
With a new-found hope, Marie held her brother’s hand, and together, they walked down the street to the little church at the end of the road. As they stepped inside, they saw Fr. Joseph preparing for the Christmas Eve service.
After he welcomed them, Marie explained everything that had happened — how hard she had worked; how long she had waited; how much she had looked forward to seeing the colorful wreath brighten their home for the Christmas season. Marie then told the priest that she wanted to give him the eight dollars, and maybe he could find someone who needed the money more than she thought she did.
Fr. Joseph smiled and said that a special collection was being taken up that night for needy families in the world. He would put her eight dollars in the collection during the Mass. Before he let the children leave, though, he brought them an ivory-colored Christmas candle that was part of a collection that had been stored in the church. It was a foot high, and Marie needed to use both hands to reach her fingers around it. Engraved in the middle of the candle was a picture of the infant Jesus in a manger, with Mary and Joseph beside Him. As Marie looked at it, she realized that this simple candle would bring all the color and light to their home that they could want. Indeed, it would truly brighten their Christmas season.
Before they left, Fr. Joseph added, “Jesus will be so happy for this gift you are giving. Indeed, your heart is filled with the true spirit of Christmas.”
After thanking the priest for his gift, Marie wrapped the candle in some tissue he had given her, and walked out the front door of the church with a wide smile on her face. By now, the sky was dark, and the colors of Main Street glowed around her. She returned to school with Matthew, and waited only a short while until their father arrived. As they rode on the back of the sleigh all the way home, the clouds that had brought a light snowfall earlier that day had disappeared and been replaced by a black, starry sky, the first one Marie had seen that month.

A Magical Decoration

Inside, after they finished their supper, Marie carefully set the Christmas candle under the tree, still wrapped in its tissue. She looked forward to Christmas morning when her parents would unwrap it, sure that they would love it. As she pondered the surprise that would appear on her parents’ faces, a soft, colorful glow slowly danced on the wall behind her. She looked up to see where it was coming from, and through the window, the northern lights shimmered in the clear night sky.
As her family joined her in the window, a rainbow of colors flowed and mingled among the stars, twinkling on the white blanket of snow below. Some of them appeared to flicker red, and others blue, and a silvery line along the edge of the northern lights appeared to drape along some of the stars, like a long piece of tinsel.
Colorful garlands were streaming in the sky, even more beautiful than the wreath Marie had planned to buy, and they stayed there throughout the night, providing a wonderful display that shone through the window, dancing on the very spot on the wall where the wreath was to hang.
Marie smiled as she lay in bed that Christmas Eve, thankful for the colorful lights that filled her home, providing her family with a magical decoration. But as she fell asleep, she was even more thankful that the wreath disappeared from the department store window.
With some help from her brother Matthew, she learned that giving from the heart was the purpose of Christmas, and she found a gift that would bring her more peace and harmony than a thousand wreaths could ever have.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…Continue Reading

Conference Looks Beyond ‘Crisis’ of Catholic Colleges, Debunks ‘Land O’ Lakes Statement’

The day after an historic and widely-covered March for Life, presidents from four Newman Guide colleges and Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly presented on the future of Catholic higher education at the “CRISIS: Catholic Higher Education and the Next…Continue Reading

Top Restaurants Will Sell Cookies to Raise Money for Planned Parenthood Abortion Business

A handful of Chicago restaurants are baking cookies and selling them through Feb. 24, with the proceeds benefitting the abortion group Planned Parenthood, the Chicago Eater reported.

Roman Catholic Church of Philippines Criticizes Duterte’s Bloody Drug War

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in a sermon read out during Sunday’s services, marking its strongest opposition yet to a flagship policy that has led to the deaths of more…Continue Reading

Catholic conservatives level criticism against pope

VATICAN CITY —Conservative criticism of Pope Francis intensified Saturday after his intervention in the Knights of Malta order, with posters appearing around Rome citing his actions against conservative Catholics and asking: “Where’s your mercy?” The posters appeared on the same…Continue Reading

U.S. archbishop visits Vietnam to show solidarity, offer support

CHICAGO (CNS) — U.S. bishops sent their immediate past president to Vietnam to see how they could help with the first college-level Catholic school approved in the Asian country in about 40 years. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky,…Continue Reading

Nancy Pelosi Tells Adopted Woman: Your Mom Should Have Had the “Choice” to Abort You

nancyp

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has made some pretty outrageous statements about abortion in the past. During a recent CNN Town Hall event, Pelosi stuck her foot in her mouth again when she told a young woman who was adopted…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Washington D.C. Becomes 6th Place in the U.S. to Legalize Assisted Suicide

A Washington, D.C. law allowing doctors to prescribe their patients lethal drugs to commit suicide went into effect Saturday after U.S. Congress failed to block the measure, the Washington Times reports. The district is the sixth area in the U.S. to legalize the deadly procedure, following Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, California and Colorado. The D.C. council passed the law at the end of 2016, despite wide-spread opposition from African Americans, people with disabilities, medical professionals,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke urges massive U.S. crowd to defend faith amid Church confusion

cburk12

LENEXA, Kansas, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The façade of Cardinal Raymond Burke as a boogeyman of tradition projected by his critics and the media was nowhere to be found last Friday when he gave his usual clear witness to the Catholic faith before an overflow crowd in the Kansas City area. Cardinal Burke delivered a stirring, clear message on defending the Catholic faith amid the current confusion in the Church that was embraced with…Continue Reading

Again More Questions than Answers . . . MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD MEETINGS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS IN MODESTO

Dear Brothers and Sisters, First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your effort in replicating on a national level the work being developed in the World Meetings of Popular Movements. By way of this letter, I want to encourage and strengthen each one of you, your organizations, and all who strive with you for “Land, Work and Housing,” the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo. I congratulate you for all…Continue Reading

U.S. House votes to overturn Obama regulation forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The  U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 188 today to overturn former President Obama’s “eleventh hour” HHS rule forcing states to give Title X money to organizations that commit abortions. Title X money comes from the government to fund “family planning services,” but technically not abortion. Before he left office, Obama pushed through an HHS regulation that essentially forces states to give Planned Parenthood Title X

When Cardinals Clash

It was easily predictable that the Amoris Laetitia (particularly footnote 351), would lead to jarring assaults on the Church’s doctrinal unity – even by some of the Church’s own shepherds. Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, has just joined the ranks of prelates who say that Pope Francis has authorized giving Holy Communion to those in adulterous second “marriages

Ex-Planned Parenthood Worker . . . Recalls Webcam Abortion Opposition, Sees Hope For Pro-Life Cause

By PEGGY MOEN ST. PAUL — Sue Thayer told her February 15 audience here that “an immediate stopper” in a debate with a pro-abort is this quotation from President Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Thayer was addressing the Legislative Dinner of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, held here at the…Continue Reading

Reopening The Question Of Women Priests… A Theological Travesty And A Spiritual Tragedy

By JEFFREY MIRUS (Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. This commentary first appeared on CatholicCulture.org, and LifeSiteNews featured it on February 13. All rights reserved.) + + + La…Continue Reading

Even As “Assisted Suicide” Looms . . . Ethics Expert Tells How Roe V. Wade Might Be Reversed

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “If you want to see what a Roe v. Wade reversal looks like, read Washington v. Glucksberg,” a national expert on medical ethics and the law told a Catholic physicians’ meeting here while he also warned against an accelerating effort to legalize “assisted suicide” in the states. With speculation rising…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… Silence As An Expression Of The Sacred

By JAME MONTI In a recent interview concerning his new book, The Power of Silence, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah observed, “Before God’s majesty, we lose our words” (Catholic World Report, October 3, 2016). Silence is man’s humble reply to the glory and transcendence of His Creator, a reply that even the high and mighty…Continue Reading

The Fatima Centenary . . . The Historical Context Of The Fatima Event

By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY (Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of monthly articles on the one hundredth anniversary of our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.) + + + There is no better time to more deeply learn, live, and spread the message…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Signs Of Growth At “The Margins” Of The Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why does a young man of 18 years old put on a suit and tie on Sunday morning, leaving his parents and sisters behind, to drive to a more distant parish? To attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I’d noticed him for a few weeks along with our growing Sunday Traditional Mass congregation and met him…Continue Reading

The Meaning Of Original Sin

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 25 Haven’t you met Catholic people who question the gravity of Adam’s sin? They do believe that all humans stem from a single couple, yes, but they find it hard to accept that stealing an apple is such a big deal. Surely God could not be that much offended by that! Such people argue…Continue Reading

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER As narrated in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper on the night before He died. Jesus and His apostles had just traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish feast of Passover in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Following up on a recent reply about the failure of Jesuit colleges and universities to uphold Catholic morality, the Cardinal Newman Society has reported that most members of Congress who graduated from Catholic institutions have pro-abortion voting records. Of the 56 Jesuit college alumni who hold seats in the new Congress, said Matt Archbold of the Cardinal Newman…Continue Reading

The Meaning Of Mammon

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 49:14-15 1 Cor. 4:1-5 Matt. 6:24-34 In the Gospel reading today, our Lord tells us that we cannot serve two masters. We will either hate the one and love the other or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. Then He states the point…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading