Carrying Christmas into Ordinary Time

Christmas 2019 has become a memory. The beautifully wrapped presents have all been opened. Bows and wrappings have been torn and thrown out, or collected to be used again next year. The Christmas ham and turkey, along with the cookies, have been consumed. School has begun and it’s back to work for the rest of us. The glow of the Christmas tree, though still beautiful, has become a bit common place. The merchandise in the stores is now geared for Valentine’s Day. The extraordinary Christmas season has now turned to something ordinary. Even liturgically, the priest now wears green and we find ourselves in “ordinary time.”

But is God’s grace ever ordinary? As I reflected on this Christmas season, I came across a prayer that Caryll Houselander wrote. She was born in 1901 and was a poet, writer and mystic. Her prayer begins, “Be born in us Incarnate love!” I could not help thinking that if we truly gave our hearts to Christ as a Christmas present, he would bestow upon us His grace upon grace. Grace to hear His whispers in the ordinary-ness of our lives. Grace to see his fingerprints in the hum-drum of work or school. Grace to experience the glory of God every day – not just on December 25!

Boy Scouts Express Devotion in Abbottstown

One hundred fifty six years ago, President Abraham Lincoln told loyal Americans that “To the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure devotion.”

Today, those words long ago addressed by Lincoln to a country riven with partisan rancor are still taken to heart, by the Boy Scouts of Troop 127 of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbottstown. On a rainy Dec. 14, they laid wreaths on 78 veteran graves in the graveyard that borders the church in rural Adams County some 17 miles from the spot Lincoln asked for that increased devotion.

Carlisle Knights Distribute Coats for Kids

As the weather turned cold, the Knights of Columbus in Carlisle heated up their commitment to the community with free winter coat distributions for children. Knights of Columbus Council #4057 at St. Patrick Parish in Carlisle distributed 96 brand new, warm coats to children at Lamberton Middle School, and Hamilton and LeTort Elementary Schools in Carlisle.

Today, 18 percent of American children and 14 percent of Canadian children live in poverty. As a result, many families cannot afford to provide even the basic necessity of a warm winter coat. Putting their faith into action, Knights of Columbus councils have handed out more than 500,000 coats to children throughout the United States and Canada through the Coats for Kids program.

Ad Limina Meeting Engaged Bishops in ‘Open and Frank’ Conversation with Pope Francis

The bishops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey engaged in a “free-flowing, open and frank” conversation with Pope Francis during their ad limina visit to Rome Nov. 25-29.

Bishop Ronald Gainer told The Catholic Witness Dec. 9 that the 20 bishops of Region III who met with the holy father for more than two hours on Thanksgiving Day experienced honest discussion of several topics, including clergy sexual abuse of minors.

Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and more than 800 faithful gathered at St. Joseph Church in Hanover for Holy Mass celebrated by Bishop Ronald Gainer and concelebrated by more than 10 priests of the Diocese.

The feast marks the Marian apparition in 1531 to St. Juan Diego in Mexico City. And it’s the only apparition in which the Blessed Mother appears pregnant with the Christ child. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas, of unborn children worldwide and to the New Evangelization of the Church.

McDevitt’s Lady Crusaders Host Teacher Appreciation Night

As a way to honor teachers and staff for the important role they play, the girls’ basketball team at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg hosted a Teacher Appreciation Night before the start of their varsity match-up against Lower Dauphin on Dec. 10.

In an endearing ceremony prior to tip-off, each member of the Lady Crusaders escorted their honored teacher to center court and presented them with a letter of appreciation and a gift card. The ensuing scene, with all students and teachers present, extended from baseline to baseline.

Bishop McDevitt Student Acclaims School Choice at White House

Myles Slade-Bowers, a junior at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, visited the White House on Dec. 9 to participate in the Educational Empowerment Roundtable with President Donald Trump and speak about the positive impact that school choice has had on his education.

Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education, invited Slade-Bowers as the sole student to represent the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.