Friday, December 30, 2011

Wernersville praised by New York Writer

A beautiful tribute to a place I've been lucky enough to spend a great deal of time, two years as a novice and, over the years, hundreds of days on retreat. Peace, Fr. Rick


In Pennsylvania, a Quick Shot of Peace, on a Budget

By SUSAN GREGORY THOMAS December 29, 2011

LATE in November I arrived at the Jesuit Center in the reclusive hills of Wernersville, Pa., on a blindingly dark and stormy night to begin a silent five-day retreat. Such a scenario might have compelled someone more compos mentis to turn around. But that was the point. As a 43-year-old mother of three wrung out from three years of panic attacks triggered by the specter of financial ruin, I needed a solid period of quiet to recombobulate. Cheaply.

I am neither Catholic nor anything in particular, but I yearned for a snippet of the no-frills spiritual solitude. The Jesuits, I’d read, were the guys to go to concerning such matters. Indeed, to engage in periods of quiet contemplation with a full-stop break from everyday life was central to the philosophy of the Jesuit founder Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556). It still is. Today, some 200 Jesuits are engaged full time in directing spiritual retreats at more than 20 centers in the United States.

But there were other reasons I’d opted for the Jesuit Center in Wernserville over, say, a spa vacation, yoga retreat or vision quest. For one thing, the center advertised an Arcadian setting and drivable proximity from my home in Brooklyn. For another, the cost was $560 for five days, including room, board and a daily hourlong conversation with a spiritual director, who would escort me through Scripture-based prayer and meditation.

Moreover, the more luxe-sounding excursions I’d considered often seemed to involve a time commitment of a week or more, along with New Age locution that somehow did not sit right. A solo quest during which animal “spirit guides” could conceivably rip out my pancreas after the sweat lodge? No.

But while I’d had the notion that it would be tough to keep quiet for five days, I realized, on arrival, that I had not developed a textured sense of what I was getting into. The facility itself, an English Renaissance-style building constructed in the late 1920s, was gigantic and dark — attributes intensified by the resident Jesuits’ ubiquitously posted wish to keep the light bills low. Fantasies of sequestered holy men tending to herb gardens and homemade beer stills were combusted by industrial platters of green beans and pigs-in-blankets provided by Sodexo, the integrated food and facilities management services behemoth.

But there was also an ineffable sphinxiness about the place. For example, I got there an hour and a half late the first night, and there was no one to tell me where to go or what I should be doing. The only signpost was a list of names and room numbers tacked to a corkboard, so I found mine and rollerbagged down the building’s spooky, caliginous hallways until I tracked down my assigned spot. I creaked open the lockless door and found a jumbo crucifix resting on the bed pillow. If Stanley Kubrick had found this place, he’d never have shot a movie anywhere else.

And there were crucifixes everywhere. It’s a Jesuit center. But as someone not only dimwitted enough not to have anticipated a lot of crucifixes at a Jesuit center, but one also whose main visual encounter with crucifixes was watching “The Exorcist,” I found it surprisingly tricky at first to suppress the feeling that blood was going to start gushing down the walls. This was not an apprehension my fellow retreatants appeared to share. Mostly women my mother’s age or older, and to my eye, clearly devout and knowledgeable, they were not talk spoilers. In fact virtually no one made eye contact.

But by the end of my five days, I’d come to see my room as my sanctum sanctorum. I would regard crucifixes as heralds of human suffering and spiritual light. And I’d come to feel a strange closeness with my silent companions. All this was chaperoned by my spiritual director, Sister Barbara Singer.

I met Sister Barbara at 1:15 p.m. my first full day in a tiny, sunlit office on the building’s third floor. An upbeat grandmotherly woman with a plumose crown of lovely white hair, Sister Barbara calmly invited me to sit down across from her and asked me to tell her what had brought me there.

I told her about my stress-related illnesses, which had hospitalized me twice earlier that year; about my sparkly-minded children; about watching my Lear-like father die in front of me; about my divorce, subsequent remarriage and unexpected conception of my son; about my dip into poverty; my husband’s unemployment; my darkest fears; of aloneness.

Sister Barbara listened closely and then said, “What I hear you saying, Susan, is that you feel forsaken.”

Not dealing with abandonment issues: forsaken. Sister Barbara did not then press me to process my relationship with, say, my mother or to consider that I should “own” my feelings.

Rather, she opened her Bible and turned to Matthew 3:17. This is the verse in which Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, and God opens the heavens and says, “This is my son, the beloved; my favor rests on him.” Sister Barbara read the passage and closed the book. How would it be, she asked, to personalize this passage — to pray with the words, “You are my beloved daughter, Susie; my favor rests on you”? How would it feel to know that God loves you as you love your own children? And then I wept and, finally, cleared my throat. It would feel pretty good. Sister Barbara advised me to go outside, walk, and pray with this. “See you tomorrow at 1:15, and we’ll see what God says,” she said and then chortled.

I followed her suggestion. I brought a pack of cigarettes, Thomas Merton’s “Book of Hours,” and a paper cup of coffee with hazelnut nondairy creamer, and I walked. The grounds of the Jesuit Center in Wernersville number some 250 acres of Wyeth-esque country, replete with undulating hills; groves of shy trees; a pond that’s home to monster koi; a cemetery. Benches positioned perfectly for quiet contemplation appeared providentially every so often.

I sat on one of these at the top of a hill, closed my eyes and sat. I don’t know how long I was there, not meditating “on the breath” or deliberately clearing my mind, but simply internally rolling over the words of my custom-tailored Matthew 3:17. Slowly, though, I grew to feel still and happy.

Later that night, I peeked into the center’s adytum, a dark and lovely stone chapel whose altar glowed with candlelight. I approached a pew and knelt. I thought about my closest family and friends and how Matthew 3:17 might be custom-fit for them, too. Again, time evaporated. That night, I slept 12 hours straight. I hadn’t slept half that much in more than a decade.

But by the third day, I was antsy. How were my children doing? What e-mails was I missing about that cable show and screenplay I was supposed to be working on? I was in the midst of selling my house in Brooklyn and closing on a place in Philadelphia. Were real estate agents going ballistic trying to track me down? How was any of this going to get done?

It had been a bitter morning, so instead of walking outside, I ducked into the center’s craftsy Art Room and busied myself with assembling a collage from magazine cutouts like a psych ward patient, I scoffed. I arrived at my appointed meeting time with my handiwork. “Oh, you made a collage!” Sister Barbara chirped, before turning to Exodus 36:4-7. It was a description of Moses and crew building the sanctuary, as instructed by God. All the volunteers were stuffing the place silly with offerings, causing the construction workers to complain to Moses: “The people are bringing way too much material for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” Moses agreed. “So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.”

HAD I considered, Sister Barbara wondered aloud, that perhaps I already had enough to do all my work? I doubted it. “Ah, that’s the whole ball of wax, isn’t it?” Sister Barbara said. “To believe, with all your heart: to know.” Then, she asked the startling: Did I believe in Jesus? Sure, I did; in fact, as a punky, truant teenager, I had believed that Jesus was the greatest anti-establishment radical of all time. Sister Barbara laughed and clapped her hands: “Great — so you can relate!” she said. She exhorted me to talk, pray to Jesus directly, with the Scripture from Exodus in mind. “Just see what comes to you.”

That afternoon, I ventured into the chapel again and stayed a long time. It would be awkward to report on what I experienced there; possibly, implausible. Suffice it to say, I left with the strong feeling that I did, indeed, have everything I needed — if only I would stay quiet long enough to remember.

I left the Jesuit Center on a clear, icy night, turning on my cellphone just in time to receive a call from my husband hollering that he and a fellow he’d hired needed to be picked up at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, followed by a call from my daughters’ father saying that financial aid applications needed to be completed by the next day, latest. Seven voice mails and 108 e-mails left. O.K. For now, at least, I had more than enough to do all the work, and more.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bells have rung. Now to the Work of Christmas

Then the Work of Christmas Begins

"When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with the flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost,

to heal those broken in spirit,

to feed the hungry,

to release the oppressed,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among all peoples,

to make music with the heart…”

- Howard Thurman, Morehouse University

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two of the best 45 Pix of 2011

More pretty amazing photos here. click here

Labels: ,

Monday, December 26, 2011

Beautiful Child, Wonderful Dad

In my Christmas homilies yesterday, I suggested that the meanings of Christmas are multiple. And one answer to Charlie Brown's question is that Christmas is all about parents: Elizabeth and Zechariah; Joseph and Mary; God and us.

I read this essay by Bruce Lawrie. I've been reading it all through Advent, over and over. I preached that God is like this Father of Matty who so wants the best for his child.
Reading of Bruce and Matty made me reflect on my relationship with my Uncle Kevin, 10 years older than I. Kevin had Down Syndrome which made him a perfect, big playmate for us when we were little. Kevin died when I was 10 years old. I hope to sit and color coloring books with Kevin someday. Or maybe Kevin will be given all he missed in this life. That's the hope of Christmas. A God who like a loving parent wants the best for his/her children.

Fr. Rick


Who Am I Lord, That You Should Know My Name?

by Bruce Lawrie

Portland Magazine Summer 2009

My six-year-old son and I share a nightly ritual, just the two of us alone in the fading light of his bedroom. Matty, who is severely mentally retarded, loves routine because life comes at him as if blasted from a water cannon, the millions of sights and sounds we all unconsciously assimilate every second of every day an undecipherable roar. Even more than most children, Matthew craves the safety that comes from learning the rhythms of his life, thrives on repetition. And of all his daily routines, winding down to bedtime might be the best. For a few minutes every night, I can turn down the white noise for him and help him ease into the peaceful joy of drifting off to sleep. We start out sitting on the floor with his favorite board book about monkeys drumming on drums, dumditty, dumditty, dum, dum, dum…The book is worn with love, all four corners gnawed off — Matthew chews up books the way other kids do grilled-cheese sandwiches, starting at the corners and working his way to the center. As we reach the last dumditty on the last page, he lets out a sigh that tells me everything’s right in his world and he’s looking forward to climbing into bed.

I rise to my feet and begin singing, Lord, I lift your name on I reach down to help him into bed. He’s unable to walk on his own but he can aim himself in the general direction of the bed. He knows where this is heading and he’s ready for it. He pauses at the bedside to feel the blankets and pillow for a moment as if to make sure the bed is still stationary. Legally blind in one eye, he’s learned that things have a disturbing way of disappearing right when you’re ready to lean on them. But, as always, he finds the cool sheets safe, slings a skinny leg over the bed, and hauls himself up on top, moving rapidly before the bed can escape. He lies on his back rocking back and forth in bed, body rigid, a crease-eyed smile lighting his face, letting out an ecstatic aaahh.

I turn out the light and kneel beside his bed in the dark room, still singing, you came from heaven to earth...

Matty holds his arm out in my direction, a tentative groping for me in the sudden blackness. I wrap his hand in mine and press it to my face. I start singing the next song in our nightly rotation as I brush his hand against my whiskers, first his palm and then the back of his hand. He explores my face with his fingertips and then he covers my mouth gently. I sing into his palm, imagining the reverberations vibrating down into his little soul. How does he experience me? What am I in his world? I don’t know. I may never know.

I keep singing. Only you can look inside me...

Who will care for Matty when I am gone? Who will keep him safe? Or maybe I’ll outlive him. Many children like Matthew don’t live out a normal life span. Would it be better if he went first? As is often the case with Matty, I don’t have the answers. What I do have, though, is this moment in the dark with him, his soft hand gently brushing my lips, the source of the soothing song, the same song he’s heard nearly every night of his six years on the planet. Those hazel eyes of his which so seldom look into mine are easing shut.

Who am I, Lord, that you should know my name?

I finish the song and stand up and wonder what heaven will be for my son. Maybe it’ll be a place a lot like here, a place where his own son will run from him across a wide open field of green, every nerve-end in his little body singing, where afterwards, Matty and I can tip back a beer together at a pub. Where he has a healthy body and a lovely wife and our family can linger long over pasta and homemade bread and salad and red wine. Where his son, my grandson, will fall asleep in my lap, a sweaty load of spent boy pinning me to my chair on the deck, the night sounds stirring around us, the stars rioting in the dark sky.

I look down on Matty’s peaceful sleeping face. So often peace has eluded him: the operations, the I.V.s, the straps tying his hands to the hospital bed rails so he wouldn’t pull the needles out, the countless blood draws when they couldn’t find the vein, all the insults descending out of the blue onto my little boy who couldn’t understand why the people around him had suddenly begun torturing him. But he is at peace right now. And a time is coming when he will have peace and have it to the full. And all the other things he’s been robbed of. Meeting a girl. Playing catch with his father and his son. Making love. Calling his mother’s name aloud. Talking with his twin sister. Eating a pizza. Drinking a beer. Running. And I’ll get to be there with him. God will carve out a little slice of eternity for us, our own private do-over where the breeze carries the smell of fresh-cut grass, where the sky is bluer than you ever thought it could be, where the air feels newborn.

Soon, Matty. Soon.

Bruce Lawrie ( is a writer in Scotts Valley, California. See

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas on the Block in Philly!

Chris Gibbons had a great piece in the Inquirer Yesterday. Merry Christmas! Peace, Fr. Rick

Seeing what matters most at Christmas

December 24, 2011

In the darkest corner of the night,

Only dreams illuminate their eyes,

And they see all the colors that we cannot,

And theirs' is the most beautiful Christmas on the block.

By Chris Gibbons

Our good friends host an annual Christmas Eve gathering in our Lafayette Hill neighborhood where, with an assortment of family, friends, and neighbors, we'll sit around an outdoor fire, reminisce about Christmases past, and sing along to Christmas songs playing on a boom box. Traditional songs by Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee, and Bing Crosby are perennial favorites, as well as classic originals by Elvis, the Carpenters, and the Beach Boys, and even more recent recordings by U2, Wham, and Mariah Carey.

Inevitably, though, as the music is playing and the fire is roaring, I'll gaze out into the street to admire the Christmas lights decorating our neighborhood, and the words to one of the most beautiful Christmas songs will echo in my mind.

Alan Mann's "Christmas on the Block" is relatively unknown outside the Philadelphia region, but many in the area consider it their favorite Christmas song, not only because it evokes pleasant childhood memories of Christmas lights illuminating the neighborhood blocks of their youth, but also for its message of selflessness.

In the mid-1980s, the rising Philadelphia rock star Alan Mann heard of a group house for the blind on a street in Upper Darby. Every Christmas, its residents would decorate a tree in front of their house, and neighbors would often say that it was the most beautifully decorated tree on the block. Although they could not see, the residents wanted to give an annual gift to those who could. The story inspired Mann to visit the house and write the song, which features a moving chorus sung by second-grade students.

The video for the song got extensive airplay on MTV during the 1986 Christmas season, and Mann seemed poised to follow the Hooters and Robert Hazard by breaking out of the local scene. Unfortunately, it was not to be. In 1987, Mann died when he jumped or fell from his burning South Philly apartment building.

Over the last 25 years, the WMMR DJ Pierre Robert has kept the memory of Mann and his song alive by regularly playing it during the season. Robert gets numerous requests for it, and, partly because it's hard to get a copy of the song, the video gets numerous hits on YouTube around the holidays.

For me, "Christmas on the Block" embodies the spirit of Christmas. Despite their handicap, its subjects showed Christmas is a time when we should focus on what we can give, rather than what we don't have. One passage in the song prompts the listener to wonder if the rest of us are blind: "They cannot see the lightning, and they cannot see the thunder./ They know what no one understands."

Last Christmas Eve, as we sat around the fire, I thought about "Christmas on the Block" and momentarily closed my eyes. Oddly enough, the music seemed livelier, the fire seemed warmer, and the voices and laughter of everyone around me seemed heartier. Although my eyes were closed, I was able to see what really mattered.

Chris Gibbons is a Philadelphia writer. He can be reached at

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yo! You Gotta Love Scranton

Two-foot trout proves elusive but Scranton hooks fisherman

RICHARD G. MALLOY, S.J. (GUEST COLUMNIST) Published: December 22, 2011

When I was in the first grade, the nuns must have been pulling their hair out under their habits trying to figure out how to keep classes of 65 to 100 baby boomers occupied during the days before Christmas. So they sent Liz Betzler and me around to all the grades to sing "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth." I am sure we were adorable, both of us missing the requisite incisors.

Liz went on to become an actress. I became a Jesuit, lucky enough to land in Scranton.

In September 2010, I arrived at the University of Scranton after spending more than two decades south of the Electric City, living and working at Holy Name Parish in Camden, N.J., and teaching at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Whenever I could get a day or two away, I'd boogie up the turnpike's Northeast Extension and fish at Chapman Lake. Surprisingly, the Jesuits at the university, like Fr. Ron McKinney, S.J., who seem to know everything, never told me about Scranton's best-kept secret: the huge brown trout in the Lackawana River.

This past year, I have wandered this brawny, blustery brute of a river, battling brush and slipping on stones. From the urban fishing areas behind the ballfield in South Side and the weeds below Redner's, to the beauty of Archbald and above, I kept trying to find these tremendous trout that local fishermen kept telling me were in the lovely Lackawana. Yet, besides a few, fat, foot-long trout, I wasn't having any real luck. The trout proved largely exotic, elegant and elusive.

Summer and fall this year saw the river unusually high, too rough to fish. I was frustrated. Trophy trout live less than a mile from where I sleep and I wasn't catching any of them.

Then my luck turned, along with the weather over Thanksgiving. Fifty, even 60-degree days. Beautiful blue skies. Pleasant light breezes. Last year I drove to Philly in a snowstorm on Thanksgiving. This year I hit Scranton's stream over Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday I got a couple. Saturday and Sunday, a few more. Of course none of my skeptical Jesuit brothers believed without photo evidence. (They forget Jesus said to Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.") I produced the photo proof of a beauty that was caught .. well, I'd tell you where, but then I'd have to swear you to secrecy. [See photo above of the 16" brown trout next to my Scranton baseball cap].

It seems I keep finding more secrets of this magic town. The people are friendly. You can find a parking spot (try doing that in Philly). You've got Gertrude Hawk chocolate, fireworks and lights on Courthouse Square, a revitalized downtown, great food from Italian to Thai, a bishop who can mesmerize a high school audience with his preaching, great basketball, fantastic parks 20 minutes in any direction, wonderful music, great small towns up and down the valley. Coney Island hot dogs and Catalano's hoagies. Cosmo's even grills up a cheesesteak as good as you get in Philly.

For a 6 a.m. flight, I leave the university at 5, get there, park in seconds, just a few minutes to get through security, and I'm at the gate at 5:30. And the TSA people at the airport are kind and helpful. And, I haven't even really gotten to know Wilkes-Barre yet.

Last week I had to drive to Washington, D.C. The traffic, the congestion, the noise. I wanted to come home to Scranton. Who needs a big city when all you could want is here? The Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre area's population is 563,641, but you can drive without fear of losing life and limb. With all these folks, it's amazing there aren't more people who know of the many attractions of this area.

Look, no one has told the fishermen in New York or Philly there are big trout in the river. Don't let them know. More fish for us. The last time Jesus was here he appeared to a bunch of guys on a fishing trip. John: 21; you can look it up. When I'm out fishing, I'm just looking for Jesus and that miracle 24-inch trout. That's all I want for Christmas.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pope Benedict's Challenge to Redistribute Wealth and Bring Justice and Peace

Pope Benedict's profound five page letter, "Educating Young People in Justice and Peace" (click here for full document) (Jan 2012) is well worth reading and praying over these last days of Advent. Peace - Fr. Rick

Educating in peace

5. “Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity.”8 We Christians believe that Christ is our true peace: in him, by his Cross, God has reconciled the world to himself and has broken down the walls of division that separated us from one another (cf. Eph 2:14-18); in him, there is but one family, reconciled in love.

Peace, however, is not merely a gift to be received: it is also a task to be undertaken. In order to be true peacemakers, we must educate ourselves in compassion, solidarity, working together, fraternity, in being active within the community and concerned to raise awareness about national and international issues and the importance of seeking adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth, the promotion of growth, cooperation for development and conflict resolution. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”, as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:9).

Peace for all is the fruit of justice for all, and no one can shirk this essential task of promoting justice, according to one’s particular areas of competence and responsibility. To the young, who have such a strong attachment to ideals, I extend a particular invitation to be patient and persevering in seeking justice and peace, in cultivating the taste for what is just and true, even when it involves sacrifice and swimming against the tide.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jean Brebeuf, S.J. The Huron Carol 1643

Of all we Jesuits have written and said in four centuries in North America, this Christmas hymn, by French Jesuit Jean Brebeuf, may be the most beautiful and long lasting. Check out the fascinating movie Black Robe about French Jesuits in North America in the 1600s.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Even Darkness Must pass, A New Day Will Come"

" 'What are we holding onto Sam?' 'That there's some good in this world Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for' "

Sam's Speech in The Lord of the Rings reminds me of the Christmas story, the tale of our God born all baby bald to be the savior of the world. Mary and Joseph kept on despite Roman oppression and Herod's insanity. Elizabeth and Zechariah, the angels and the shepherds proclaim the Good News. The wise man venture to lands they know not. And we, we are called to do in our times what they did in theirs: welcome and protect the child and all the children.

Jesus comes to bring justice and peace to our bruised and battered world. O Come Let Us Adore.... Peace, Fr. Rick

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, December 16, 2011

Greatest Christmas Song Ever: Christmas in the Trenches

Greatest Christmas song ever. True History can lead us to chose peace and abolish war.

Today the War in Iraq was ended. 4,487 American soldiers dead. 32,226 wounded. Estimates of Iraqi dead begin at 150,000. The war cost $800 billion to $1 trillion dollars. (source: NBC News

Peace, Fr. Rick

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What I Want For Christmas - Orba Squara

Great Little song. Peace, Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NPR notes Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe


Switching to another part of the world now, this is an important religious day for some Catholics, especially those from Mexico and other parts of Central and Latin America. Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. That's when the faithful celebrate the appearance of an apparition of the Virgin Mary known as the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City back in 1531.

Since then, the image of Guadalupe has become an icon throughout Latin America as a symbol, not just of faith, but also of native pride and resistance against oppression.

Here to tell us more about the Virgin of Guadalupe and her feast day is Friar Gilberto Cavazos-Gonzalez. He is a Franciscan scholar and an associate professor of spirituality at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.


MARTIN: And the meaning is?

CAVAZOS-GONZALEZ: The meaning is, first, the skin tone. She's neither European nor Native American. She's a combination of the two. You know, she basically was the skin tone of the new children that were being born of Mexican women who had, unfortunately, been either violated or seduced by European men. She has the skin tone of the unwanted children of the violent conquests of Mexico, symbolizing that these children are human. They are worthy of being children of God as well. Mexicans take pride in that, in that we are those children of the violent conquest who have been adopted by God.

Her hands in prayer and her face tilted, she's telling the Indians, I'm not a goddess. I am the servant of a god. And at her neck she wears a cross, so thereby basically proclaiming to God, I serve is(ph) to God, Jesus Christ.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where's the line to see Jesus?

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Guess who said this!

Guess Who Said This!

More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep. But this was not just any child. Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us. And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves

That teaching has come to encircle the globe. It has endured for generations. And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.

So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds. In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in. In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families. In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who've sacrificed so much for us. And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home. (Applause.)

And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment
to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith. Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family.

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Scroll Down

Answer: President Obama. Dec 1, 2011 remarks lighting the National Christmas Tree