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Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,

I have for us an Advent/Christmas Challenge—be as sneaky in an act of charity as St. Nicholas was. St. Nicholas is the real-life inspiration of course for our modern Santa Claus. For those who don’t know it, his story is worth telling. As the story goes, Nicholas was a Bishop serving his people. He was aware of a poor family that had three daughters. It was the custom of those days that a young woman’s father had to provide a dowry that his daughter would bring to the marriage. This man was unable to provide a dowry and thus his daughters were unlikely to be able to be married. Nicholas heard about their plight and as each daughter neared the age of marriage, he went by the house and tossed a bag of gold through the window to be a dowry. Those bags of gold are said to have landed in shoes or stockings left by the fire to dry. That led to the tradition of people hanging stockings or putting out shoes hoping for gifts from St. Nicholas.

I particularly appreciate the secretive nature of his charity. We are surrounded by opportunities to be so creative ourselves. I know of a modern example of such sneaky and creative charity from the mid 90’s. One Christmas a person decided to look for a family that they wanted to do something nice for. They chose a family with a lot of kids, for whom they knew things were tight, and bought toys for them. They put them in simple black garbage bags in a place where they knew they would be easily found—an anonymous act of love, well thought out, scheming even. To this day my family does not know who left those toys for us that Christmas. I remember that moment though with my family seeing those simple black garbage bags left in a pile in front of our milking parlor and opening them to find those presents. For us kids it was literally like a gift from Heaven and something I will never forget.

Having been on the receiving end of such ingenious stewardship, I want to be able to be such a steward with the gifts God gives me. This Advent and Christmas let us strive to do our best imitation of St. Nicholas. Look around and find a way to do something without being noticed or seen. They can be close to home or a complete stranger—God will point out the right person.

I am very pleased with the new electronic organ at Sacred Heart. I was processing out at the end of Mass when it was being played—I was struck by the fact that it sounds like it has always been there. Some have asked why the console is downstairs rather than in the choir loft. For a couple reasons. First is that it is getting harder for the choir to go up that steep set of stairs. Second is the flexibility it offers of being able to use the piano and organ at the same Mass. They can easily go between the two instruments. Thank you again for those who have helped make this possible.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

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