They arrived one minute before the Mass began and sat in the row in front of me. Mom took off her long, tan coat, then removed the baby from the carrier. She gently picked up the small child and immediately snuggled him to her chest.

In a moment, Dad arrived. He took off his coat and immediately grabbed his son. Mom watched with pride.

Together they sang and prayed and took turns holding the newest member of their family. Neither Mom nor Dad could stop smiling.

When parents welcome a new child into their lives, everything changes. All of their thoughts, emotions, and actions are focused on the baby. They would do anything for their child. Anything. They love their child with all their heart and all their soul.

On that Sunday morning, when I watched Mom and Dad in the row in front of me, it wasn’t simply happiness I saw on their faces. I saw pure joy in their hearts.

It’s the kind of joy we all want in our lives.

This Christmas, we have a chance to experience this joy. It starts with two simple questions.

Are we prepared to welcome Jesus into our lives? Are we ready to let Him guide our thoughts, emotions, and actions?

Reach down, pick up the Christ child, and snuggle Him to your chest.

Love Him with all your heart and all your soul.

Then share Him with the world around you.

Be prepared, because everything changes. You too, will be smiling from ear-to-ear. And you too will feel the joy in your heart.

Merry Christmas.


A Silly Goose

Four blocks from where I live, on the front porch of a red brick two-story house sits a silly, ceramic goose. She faces out toward the street, proudly greeting everyone who travels by.

This is no ordinary goose. This goose reflects the mood of the day. For example, if it’s a rainy day, the goose is wearing a yellow rain slicker and boots. If it’s July 4th, she is decorated in red, white and blue. When it’s summer, the goose is dressed ready for the beach, complete with sunglasses and bathing suit.

It’s no secret that the woman who lives at the red brick house has a passion for life. She could easily place the goose in a nearby flower bed or a under a large oak tree and let it become part of her overall lawn decor.

Instead, she chose to make the goose a symbol of her joy for life. Families out for a walk stop and point and smile at the goose. Dog walkers glance over to see the outfit of the day. It’s become a conversation starter in the neighborhood, and brought joy to many.

It takes a lot of planning and coordinating to keep the goose dressed appropriately. It takes true dedication.

It makes me think: Am I living my faith the same way this woman is living her life? Am I always sharing my passion with others?

  • Am I making people smile with my words and actions?
  • Am I planning and coordinating so that I can become the best version of myself?
  • Am I letting the world know that I love and honor God every moment of every day?

It may be a silly goose, but it’s a great symbol for us to embrace our lives and keep our faith on the front porch of our hearts, directly facing the world passing us by.


Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.


The Joy is Growing!

Joy marks the third week of Advent. We light the pink  or rose candle, as this week is meant to bring rejoicing. The time of preparation is halfway over. The joy is growing!

Jesus, our Savior, is near. Not just in the day of Christmas but in the reality that He will come again. Joy in knowing that working on our relationship with Him will bring us closer to heaven. Joy that working on this relationship with others will bring heaven closer to earth. Joy that all will be made well for those who place their trust in Him.

As you ponder faith and joy, I share this passage from You: God’s Brand New Idea, a book of reflections that draws from other texts, to inspire and motivate you as we draw closer to Christmas. Have faith! Rejoice!

God has never taken his eyes off of you. Not for a millisecond. He’s always near. He lives to hear your heartbeat. He loves to hear your prayers. He’d die for your sin before he’d let you die in your sin, so he did.

What do you do with such a Savior?

Don’t you sing to him? Don’t you declare, confess, and proclaim his name? Don’t you bow a knee, lower a head, hammer a nail, feed the poor, and lift up your gift in worship? Of course you do.

Worship God. Applaud him loud and often. For your sake, you need it.

And for heaven’s sake, he deserves it. (Cure for the Common Life)


Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic Parish