Luke 2, 8Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. 9The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.10The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

Yesterday, Christmas, we rejoiced in the birth of Our Savior Jesus, the Word made flesh, the Son of God, the small, fragile babe Who came to earth to grow in wisdom, age and grace, to live and to die for us, to redeem mankind.

Jesus’ birth was joyful and his death was as well because his death on the Cross was followed by the Resurrection and our redemption.

While we might be fearful of death, we must remember that Jesus died for us so we could be with Him in heaven after our earthly life.

All those thoughts – and the beautiful homilies I heard these days – touched my life personally in a surprising way late one recent night.

My Christmas plans for time in Chicago and Milwaukee with friends and family stunningly changed several days ago with a phone call that my sister’s husband Paul had just died. I made plans to fly to California and revised my Chicago-Rome travels, doing so only when I knew the date of the funeral.

I flew to San Diego yesterday, Christmas Day, and was able to spend part of Christmas with Gail, her 3 children and 9 grandchildren. We actually had a beautiful afternoon and evening – lots of tears, love, laughter, sharing and a beautiful turkey dinner with everyone pitching in – there were 17 of us! We even played a game my sister had ordered and we laughed until we cried….the good tears!

Words always fail at a moment like this. The words that do help, and help more as time passes, are prayers – and that is what I ask of you today, my faithful blog and Facebook friends. Include Paul and Gail and the family in your prayers in coming days, especially that the Lord will fill their hearts and souls with peace and understanding and with the strength to accept the difficult moments that will be ahead.

My prayer is also that they remember the countless beautiful moments of the past – Gail and Paul’s September 2018 50th anniversary celebrations, the family cruise, the years of fun vacations and travels and family reunions on the East Coast and in the Midwest, the weddings and the births of grandchildren, the years of love and joy and laughter and sharing that made their lives – my life – so memorable and blessed!

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen