Archaeological Find Supports Old Testament Timeline

The Old Testament’s account of the history of the Kingdom of Israel has been debated by scholars for generations. Many believed that, for economic and technological reasons, a kingdom could not have existed in that region of the world before the Sixth Century BC.

But clay seals found in a recent dig by a team from an American university strongly suggest a government was operating there as early as the Tenth Century BC.

Jimmy Hardin, an associate professor at the Mississippi State University’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, said the bullae, found at the location of the former borders of Judah and Philistia, indicate organized political structures at a level “far above subsistence” even at a remove from the population centers during the Iron Age.


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What’s Christmas About?

It’s hard to

while steering a narrow course between


There are a few strategies to take the pressure off. There’s buying gift-like things whenever they’re on sale all year, then wrapping them whenever you need something to do with your hands, and then allotting them to your recipients on Christmas. That’s the approach of the relative who gave you a snowglobe and a plant waterer last year. There’s making something just for each person on the list, something unique. That’s why you got those hand-crocheted gloves that unraveled when you tried to figure out where the thumbs were. Someone got blisters making you those. There’s the economy pack of something everyone likes. You may recognize it from the person who gives everyone chocolate.

You could do what children usually do when they have to buy presents: Buy things you like that are on sale, and give them to people at random, and don’t take it personally if they trade. In fact you could have a drawing, as many families do, where each person gives one gift, and each person gets one gift. I like that idea. But if the most broke, or cheapest, person draws your name two years in a row it’s not really fair.

Presents aren’t the whole story, of course. There’s baking, getting a tree, decorating and then cleanup.

Here’s how I deal with that:




A plastic one-piece tabletop tree with ornaments built in.

Decorating, Interior

A string of lights in the window, a ring of large ornaments that were gifts, on the table at the foot of the tree, a garland across a door way opposite the window, a few Christmas candleholders, no candles.

Decorating, exterior



Something I like on sale near door of store. Share with whomever I see.


From store to fridge, to cup, to microwave, to table.


At a relative’s house or a family restaurant, getting simpler every year. Three items are plenty. A ham or turkey, or some ham or turkey slices from a deli, gravy and some kind of salad or veggie plate, or canned cranberry sauce or whatever’s handiest.


Everyone pitches in. It’s over in minutes.


No. Relatives visiting from other parts of the country are a bonus. Those who can’t make it call instead. Those who can, arrive as early as possible and leave as late as possible to spread out the travel and avoid crowds.


I always try to get to midnight, and if I don’t make it, I try for the second-to-last morning one. That way, if I miss that one too, there is still one more.

Then it’s Christmas night, and I

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Santa Lucia: Elvis, Bocelli, and a Swedish Procession

I had never heard this version until just now.
Nor this one:

But I had heard it like this:

If you didn’t know the tune before, I hope you do now. Isn’t it beautiful?
Happy Santa Lucia Day.

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The apparition, its meaning and effect: Fr. Barron:

And one Aztec Guadalupe Dance:

And another, more like the performance at my parish this past Sunday:

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Happy Specific Holiday

It’s the time of year when many people bend over backwards to avoid mentioning that they know the name of the occasion of all the decorating and store crowds.

Some feel that calling attention to any particular holiday is divisive. However, Christmas is, if anything, a time people discover how much they have in common. Not only do most non-Christians in the US celebrate Christmas, which puts to rest the notion that public Christmas celebrations “force’ anyone’s beliefs on anyone, it’s also a day that brings together the Christians who often don’t see eye to eye.
Some people celebrate Christmas with trees, carols, presents, lights, and everything but the religious references.

Even for believers, the popular traditions in this country can be a little mistranslated from their religious meaning.
But on the subject of greetings:
Those who say “happy holidays” are apparently trying not to leave anyone out. Yet we all know which holiday brings on the sudden, short-term interest in holiday greetings. There are holidays in July and in April but no one goes around wishing strangers “happy holidays” at those times of year. It’s Christmas that covers towns and cities in tinsel, and casts a merry glow that you don’t have to be a Christian to feel. Atheists, pagans and Buddhists are standing in gift-wrapping lines and many are asking for the “Merry Christmas” paper on the Christmas presents they are giving. The number of non-Christians who don’t observe Christmas is probably about equal to the number of Christians who also don’t celebrate Christmas, because they don’t observe holidays — and therefore, they would be equally offended by “happy holidays”.
“Season’s Greetings” is even worse. When did seasons start greeting people? If I want to be greeted by a season per se, I would want it to be summer. What authority does someone walking past me at the store have to pass on a greeting to me from a season, anyway?
Should I say hi to him from Monday? Or let him know July is thinking of him? What’s a season’s greeting?
As for the issue of saying “Merry Christmas” when, as so many have pointed out to me lately, “it’s not Christmas yet,” this is, as I pointed out last year, a wish, not a report. Just as you sometimes wish (there’s that word again) someone a good afternoon, and he says, “What’s good about it?” the error is the confusion of a wish for the future with a report on the past. You’re not reporting that the afternoon has been good, but rather wishing (from an Old English word meaning “wanting”) that it will be good. Thus, saying “Good afternoon” as the morning draws to a close makes perfect sense. Likewise, saying “Merry Christmas” is quite appropriate during Advent. It means that you want someone’s Christmas (whether he is celebrating or not) to be merry (which means peaceful, contented, cheerful).
Merry Christmas.


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Catholic Quote of the Day — from Blessed Paul VI : The Integrated Catholic Life™

Catholic Quote of the Day — from Blessed Paul VI : The Integrated Catholic Life™.

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Immaculate Conception

December the Eighth is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day of Obligation, which means attendance at Mass is required.

It celebrates, not the conception of Jesus, but the conception of Mary, who was conceived without Original Sin. She is the daughter of Anna (Hannah) and Joachim, who were part of a long line of couples suffering from infertility. Mary (Mara, Miriam, Maryam) was the most common feminine name in First Century Judaea, and Anne and Joachim gave this name to their only child. She was set aside by God as the Ark of the New Covenant, and she worked and studied in the Temple from early childhood.

Hipster Mary

Equipping Catholic Families suggests the following ways to honor the occasion:

  • Making these ornamentsImmaculate Conception Catholic Icing OrnamentsFrom Catholic Icing,
  • Being kind and helpful to a pregnant mother — by babysitting, making cookies for her, or some similar thing,
  • A white dinner: rice, white cheese, vanilla cupcakes or ice cream, etc.

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