Dean gives a half smile. Maybe we should get her a sign made for Christmas. Maybe they can pop in for the New Year. The angel chuckles.
Everyone but you. He shuts the door snickering to himself. Dumb adorable angel. It would have been better than leaving his car in a strange parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Dean huffs and stomps off in search of the best tree. He spots the perfect Douglas Fir off in the corner and makes a beeline for it. And best of all, it smells amazing. He turns with a bright grin, calling Sam away from the stupid sappy pine tree.
Sam looked as though he was going to argue, but Dean cut him off with excited chatter. Dean feels like Sam is more than compromising, letting him pick the tree. They have some that smell good too. I think they have fluffy ones right?
This is our tree. Dean only has a moment to feel embarrassed about his babbling before Sam returns with a receipt and a Christmas Tree stand. No one ever told Dean how awkward it is getting a tree into a truck. After several minutes of struggling, and excessive cursing, they finally get the tree loaded in the truck.
Dean expresses his worry about the branches getting flattened, and Sam just laughs and climbs in the driver's seat. Dean plucks at a stray thread on his jeans. But I, um, kind of want you to be okay with it before I give it away.
And be honest with me. But uh-- I kind of wanted to give him the amulet - the one you gave me when we were kids. Look, that necklace was never meant for me. Bobby gave it to you to give to Dad, but you decided you wanted to give it to me. That always meant something to me. It was probably nothing but your little kid guilt, but it always felt to me like in that moment you choose me over Dad. That you finally saw I was the one who took care of you.
Then Cas took it to find God because he chose free will. We make our own destiny and all that bullshit. So I kind of wanted to give it to Jack so that he knows the choice is his. He can be good if he wants to be. They ride in silence for several more miles. Dean can tell there's a question hanging in the air, and promises himself he will be honest if Sam asks.
He might as well make a day out of sharing and caring. This conversation was coming sooner or later, might as well get it over with. But he isn't going to push the issue. Sam will ask when he asks. As if he suddenly became a fortune teller, Dean hears Sam draw in a breath and braces himself for THE question. He said I should know what he wants. Well, actually he said everyone else knows what he wants except me. But I know. He knows I know. But if you actually want to, then just do it. Sam interrupts Dean before he can start listing off excuses.
I know you. You have three excuses lined up, right?
You do, you saved the world more times than I can count. You, more than anyone, deserves to be happy. The guy has given up everything for you. The most recent example: he clawed his way back from the Empty for you, Dean. Cas will always choose you. Dean never let himself think about his status with Cas. Since his return, they had been working with Jack, teaching him both how to be human and angel.
They made a great team, not only with Jack but in everything they did. But he never believed it was more than just how well they knew each other. But it never seemed like the right time. They bounce from one disaster to another; there's never any time. Cas is gone more often than he's around and dies as frequently as he and Sam do. How can you love someone who dies so often? Your big guns, so to speak. How could you stand to lose Cas if you went down that road? But really Dean, how much different would it be than losing him now?
You two as practically a couple as it is. Raising a kid together, cooking, snuggling on the couch. Look, there is no answer for this one, Dean. If you lose him again, it will be bad. This is your shot to have a family. Sam laughs, lightening the moment. I am maxed out on chick flick moments. Sam chuckles but thankfully drops the subject. The rest of the ride back to the bunker is spent laughing and teasing - something Dean has really missed sharing with his brother.
Back at the bunker, with just as much effort as it took to get the tree in the truck, they get it out and set up in the family room. There may be more cursing and name calling, but the tree is up, and everyone is mostly satisfied. We can grab some snacks and have a tree trimming party.
You guys will have to take a different car though. He better not have just shown up in the middle of the decoration aisles. The three men pile into the small truck cab. They have been fighting for arm dominance since they got in the truck. I think you can share the love. Cas turns to look at him, which is way too close in such a tiny space.
If he turned his head to face the angel, their noses would bump. So he gives him his best side-eye. Come on, Cas. Your arm resting on mine is driving me nuts. Shrugging, Cas slips his arm around the back of the bench seat. Dean finally settles down and begins to relax. He thinks about what Sam said: You just do it. Thinks maybe he can. Maybe he can just slowly progress things forward, and they would never have to talk about it. In fact, he knows Cas would understand that. No one knows how allergic he is to feelings more than his angel. He keeps his eyes trained forward, but watches Cas out of his periphery.
His friend's mouth slightly ticks up at the corner, and that floods Dean with relief. They drop off the rental truck and make their way to Wal-Mart. Jack is standing out front, grinning and offering good tidings to anyone who walks by. They join him at the entrance and make their way towards the back where all the decorations are stored. They all decided that if they were going to have their first real Christmas tree they were going to make it as big and tacky as possible.
They added red and gold bulbs to the cart, also throwing in random individual ornaments. Dean found one of a guitar that he had to have, and Cas picked a moose and squirrel to add to their bounty. Dean let out a raucous laugh when he saw Sam with an arm full of ornaments. He even had one of those creepy mini nutcrackers. But he learned his lesson that time. The shorter Winchester ducked his head and walked back to Cas, staring at the angels in 'drag'. If it weren't for the very real ache in his back from moving the tree, he would think he was stuck in some dream where the Djinn got off on the taste of holiday cheer.
It's probably been one of the best days of his life, and it's only getting better. Cas, you wanna grab some whiskey? One maxed-out credit card, a trunk full of holiday joy, and two steaming hot pizzas later, they are on their way home. Everyone else seems excited to get the tree decorated, so they decide to just eat in shifts. Sam is stringing the lights while Cas carefully separates the ornaments. He seems to be taking a tactical approach. Dean suspects that after everyone is asleep, Cas is going to come in and rearrange the tree, placing every ornament just so.
He smiles to himself imagining Cas dressed as The Grinch, but instead of stealing Christmas, he will be making it more visually pleasing. There is nothing wrong with loving this; hell, most people do. Sam is the most badass hunter Dean knows. He never runs from his feelings and even has healthy coping skills, something Dean knows he does not possess.
Jack has been alive for seven months and still communicates better than he does. Letting go of his tough guy act gives him big ideas for Cas' present. Sure, Sam is going to make fun of him, but he will secretly be thrilled. Dean momentarily contemplates falling on an angel blade before letting the next thought creep through. The rest of the night passes in a blur.
They finish the tree and stuff themselves on pizza and eggnog. The four of them curl up on the couch, Dean and Cas sharing a blanket, and sitting closer than necessary. Before long everyone is tucked away in their own rooms. The next day, Dean is up before everyone to start making pancakes.
The smell of bacon draws his brother to the kitchen, and Sam plops down at the kitchen table. Dean slides a fresh cup of coffee in front of Sam and ruffles his hair. Lucky for you, you have an awesome older brother who knows the fastest way to cure a hangover: greasy breakfast and electrolytes. Sam gazes up at him in wonder. And how are you not hungover?
The second story in the series of THE PARK BENCH is set at Christmas and a young pregnant girl being thrown out of home. How she meets Gabe in the park. Re:the park bench marys christmas miracle. Christmas Marriages Miracles The Italians Christmas Miracle A Mummy for Christmas The Italian Surgeons.
You drank twice as much as I did. Dean points at himself with the piece of bacon he's about to eat. We may not do Christmas every year, but we have our traditions, and you catching a hangover from eggnog happens every year. They finish their breakfast in comfortable silence. As soon as they finish eating, Sam jumps up and offers to wash the dishes.
All the usual suspects will be there, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes. But is there, uh, anything special you want me to fix? Maybe we can put them to work to make a nice meal for Christmas eve? Think Cas would want to make his spaghetti sauce? I know it has to simmer all day or whatever. They are still laughing when Jack enters the room and asks Sam if he will take him to some old-timey theater to watch another black and white Christmas movie. You guys go and enjoy the lack of color and CGI. You have sent me cards and flowers. And above all you have supported me with your prayers.
Every Sunday night as I wrote thank you notes I was deeply moved by the great support you offered to me. And I was reminded that we are the Body of Christ. We are the People of God. We are the Salt of the Earth. We are the Light of the World. It is our shared calling to change our suffering world into what God intends it to be.
It is also our shared calling to change our suffering church into what God intends it to be. Such is the power of the Body of Christ. It has indeed been a run of horrible years for the church. Anyone who has studied the history of our church knows that we have been here before, not in the same circumstances but in crisis. When we have been willing to follow the often surprising movements of the Holy Spirit we have risen from our crisis stronger and purified.
This is our time and our chance to trust in the Holy Spirit and embrace the inevitable and necessary change with faith, hope and love. That is why I stay. Our Homeless Jesus sculpture has received quite a bit of media attention recently.
I would greatly appreciate any help you guys can provide. When we got in the car, I couldn't help myself from smiling, she just made me feel so warm. I do it through Heifer International. Views Read Edit View history. I am a very fortunate woman in so many ways. I was a heroin addict.
This story did not surprise me. I have personally witnessed first responders getting out of an ambulance ready to help the person on the bench, only to realize that it was a sculpture. I watched them use their phones to take some pictures, maybe to alert their colleagues. The artist, Timothy Schmalz intentionally created a very realistic sculpture which he hoped would push us to face the persistent problem of homelessness.
As I write this letter it is degrees Fahrenheit. Even in these temperatures some people will have no choice but to spend the night outside. I know that not everyone loves our Homeless Jesus. Some people think we should not represent the resurrected Jesus in the image of a homeless person. Others have argued that the money spent on the Homeless Jesus should have been used to alleviate the suffering of those in need. The Basilica has a very strong commitment to helping all those in need.
Our approach is two-pronged: alleviation and education. Thus, on the one hand we offer direct help to those in need and we work to change systems that cause and perpetuate poverty and inequality.
The sculpture is not so much about the bronze Jesus it represents, but rather about the suffering person in whom we ought to recognize Jesus. Many of us are a bit more like Peter than like Mary. Peter courageously declared to Jesus that he would never leave him, and yet he denied knowing Jesus after his arrest and he ran away when Jesus was crucified. By contract without making grandiose statements, Mary, the Mother of Jesus together with Mary of Magdala and John the Beloved stayed with him. They were not able to prevent his death but they stayed with him even as he was dying on the cross.
We received Homeless Jesus last November. Since then we have seen people quietly sitting on the bench next to him with their hands placed on his pierced feet. We have found flowers and a lit candle left beside him. And just a few weeks ago as the winter was setting in, someone lovingly covered him with a red blanket. It is our hope that the Homeless Jesus will move us to similar and even greater acts of kindness not just to the sculpture but more importantly to the people it represents.
My early years in Minneapolis were not always easy as I greatly missed my family and friends in Belgium. Christmas time was particularly difficult. So, I was very glad to host my late parents in December of They had never experienced the amount of cold and snow we get in Minnesota. We actually had to get them some appropriate coats and hats and mittens. Surprisingly, they took to it and showed me to find joy in every season, even in winter. My dear friend, the late Fr. He too liked it here, no matter the season and returned many times. On Saturday, we spent the day decorating the Christmas tree in my house.
It was a lovely robust and fragrant blue spruce. Carefully unpacking each ornament, I told its story. When we were all finished we went into the kitchen to prepare dinner. From the kitchen, a terrific noise called us back to the living room where we found the tree on the floor surrounded by shattered glass.
Heartbroken, I needed to excuse myself. When I finally emerged from my room-and my sour mood—I found the tree back in place, the surviving ornaments ready to be hung, and the table set. We had a quiet dinner together and talked of all things Belgian. The next day, when I returned home from Sunday liturgies, I found the tree decorated with the surviving ornaments and some new ornaments ready to be hung. My Christmas tree today is adorned with many ornaments. Some of the ornaments are old, reminding me of Belgium, but many of them are new, bearing the memories of my travels, my friends, and my Basilica life.
And, still to this day, I treasure the clear glass ornaments filled with bits and pieces of old and treasured memories. And though I still miss my Belgian family and friends at Christmas, I have totally embraced my new family and friends here in Minneapolis. I am so grateful for all of you, especially this Advent Season. I went to Mass at St. I noticed that St. After a brief greeting Pope Francis asked everyone present to raise their Bambinelli for a blessing.
To my great delight the people around me took a baby Jesus out of their pocket or purse and lifted it up so Pope Francis could bless it. I wish I had brought one of mine. The popularity of this tradition is often credited to St. In , anxious to return the focus of the Christmas festivities to Jesus he built his own life size nativity in a cave in Greccio near Assisi. It is believed that he modeled his nativity after a manger he had seen in Bethlehem. It is not clear if he found a live infant or used a carved image of a baby. Either way, he placed the baby Jesus on a bed of hay between an ox and a donkey.
According to his biographer, Thomas of Celano, word of this went out to the people of the town who arrived carrying torches and candles. One of the friars began celebrating Mass. Thomas of Celano wrote that St. For Saint Francis, the baby Jesus in the manger was intended to recall the hardships Jesus suffered even as an infant. In this early suffering Francis saw a foreshadowing of the hardships Jesus was to suffer as an adult. Thus St. Francis shows us a Jesus who became truly human, sharing our suffering and pain and ultimately our death.
On December 16, which is Gaudete Sunday or the third Sunday of Advent we invite you to bring the Baby Jesus from your home nativity. Like Pope Francis does in Rome we will bless these Bambinelli at the end of the am and am Mass. My journey with cancer began on March 26, Monday of Holy Week. It made for the most incredible celebration of the Paschal Mystery.
Then, on June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul I received the great news that after three months of chemo the tumor was gone. For the next five years I will continue to be monitored very closely to make sure the cancer does not return. As I have mentioned before, this has been a physical and spiritual adventure of great proportions. I do not believe for a second that God causes us to suffer. Rather I believe that life may present us with challenges.
And when that happens, our faith in God offers us the necessary strength to handle it and the much needed insights to find meaning in it. Some skeptics, however, point out that the effect could have been a sundog, a patch of light that appears near the sun, or note that not everyone there that day saw the miracle. For years they claimed to receive daily messages and so far have allegedly received thousands of prophecies. Though the Vatican has never officially weighed in, the site has attracted millions of pilgrims over the years.
In , the Vatican agreed to investigate this event and said its findings would be ready in Many considered this to be an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The event was reportedly seen by many onlookers and even captured in photographs. So far, no one has found evidence that those photos were manipulated. The head of the Coptic Church in Alexandria declared this a legitimate miracle. The statue continued to cry, sweat and bleed for several years and was even captured on national television. The Sister Agnes, who was deaf prior to the apparition, also regained her hearing about a decade later.
Honoring the Virgin Mary, it attracts millions of pilgrims each year, many of whom march on their knees for almost a kilometer across an asphalt mall that once covered a pasture where three young shepherds had a vision of the Virgin Mary in Some of the pilgrims wear knee pads; others carry children on their shoulders to increase the burden; and others still burst and into tears and wail with emotion as they pray. At the small chapel at the end of the mall, pilgrims can be seen wrapping their swollen ankles and bruised knees with bandages. To honor the Virgin and the children, pilgrims burn life-size wax effigies of children and the Virgin Mary and light candles to commemorate the vision.
On ordinary days people go to the chapel and melt wax legs, arms and other body parts in an effort to get miracle cures for the corresponding body parts. The lady told the children: "Recite the Rosary — a devotion to the Virgin — to bring peace to a world at war, and make sacrifices for sinners who have no one to pray for them. Each month on 13th the lady appeared at the oak tree. Each time Lucia could see her, walk with her and talk to her, Jacinta could see her and Francisco could only hear her.
During one of her visits, she showed the children a vision of Hell and warned against the perils of Communism. News of the vision attracted increasingly large crowds to Fatima for each scheduled vision. A "large number of people" showed up on July Maybe 30, were there on August On October 13, a crowd of 70, surrounded the shepherds, who saw the Virgin. She reappeared briefly and told the children to raise a chapel in her honor. Later a chapel was built over the oak which was stripped for relics after the sightings. The peasant grassroots movement that developed after the sightings was at first viewed with skepticism by the government and the Catholic church.
The Vatican generally tries to discourage miracle worship but later it recognized Fatima as well as Lourdes. Around 1, "miraculous cures" have occurred at Fatima, most of them before a medical investigation bureau was established at Fatima in the mids. In the her second visit the children reported asked the Virgin if they could go to heaven. She reportedly told Jacinta and Francisco they would come "soon" but Lucia would come later so she could "establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. Lucia dos Santos entered a Catholic school in Porto five years after the sighting and entered became a nun, entering the Carmelite Order in She lived most of her life in seclusion as a nun and wrote an account that detailed the Virgin's request for prayers for the conversion of Russia.
She died in after spending most of her life in seclusion at the Carmelite convent of Santa Teresa in Coimbraa, Portugal, where she had lived since Each day the virgin appeared is honored with a pilgrimage. Of the six pilgrimage dates, May 13 is by the far the largest.
It draws as many as , pilgrims, many of whom participate in a candlelight procession that precedes the Midnight Mass on the 13th. Lourdes near Tarbes and reached by Toulouse or Biarritz in southern France is the home of Grotto of Massabielle, where a famous Vatican-sanctioned miracle occurred in It is the most popular Roman Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world after St.
Peter's Basilica in Rome. Visited by around 5 million people a year and located in the foothills of the Pyrenees where the Gave de Pau River joins an old canal, the cave contains altars with statues of the Virgin Mary and walls lined with tiny crutches and blackened by the soot of millions of candles. Along a meter path water from the grotto's miraculous spring is dispensed from small spigots. Around the spring is sprawling park with chapels, hospices, infirmaries, libraries and auditoriums. The Basilica of St.
Pius X is one of the world's largest churches. An additional underground basilica has room for 7, more.
The main draw, other than the spring-feed baths, are small cubicles where the sick, crippled and terminally ill immerse themselves in hopes of a miraculous cure. There are also two hospitals that care for but don't treat the sick. The original miracle at Lourdes occurred on February 11, when a year-old illiterate peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous, who was out collecting firewood with her sister and a friend, said she heard what sounded like a gust of wind and then saw a girl with a blue sash around her waist, a yellow rose on each foot and rosary beads on her arm, in the grotto while the other girls were on the other side of the canal.
Soubirous later said, "I lost all power of thought when, turning my head towards the grotto, I saw at one of the openings a rosebush, one only, moving as if it were very windy. Almost at the same time there came out of the interior of the grotto a golden cloud, and soon after a lady, young and beautiful, exceedingly beautiful, the like of whom I had never seen, came and placed herself at the entrance of the opening above the bush.
Soubirous said the "lady" was 16 or 17 and dressed in a white robe with a blue ribbon tied around the waist and bare feet adorned with two yellow roses. She said that she could feel the presence of the a lady, who momentarily froze the girl's body. When Soubirous told her sister and her friend what happened. They laughed at her and called her an "imbecile and a bigot.
Soubirous disobeyed her mother and even the chief of police in her town and returned to the grotto and had a total of 18 visions over the next five months. On the ninth visit the lady told the girl to "drink from the fountain and bath in it. On her 12th visit, accompanied by 20, people, the lady revealed herself by telling Soubirous, "I am the Immaculate Conception I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the other. Soubirous spent the last 12 years of her life as a nun.
She died in and was canonized as a saint in by Pope Pius XI.. In the spring and summer throngs of tourist and Catholic faithful come to the the Grotto of Massabielle at Lourdes to wash themselves in the water which many believe has miraculous curing powers. Candlelight processions are sometimes held in front of the Chateau of Lourdes which also houses the Pyrenean Museum. About 20 percent of the visitors to Lourdes are people seeking a miraculous cure. Many people are very sick, enfeebled or dying. Many are in big blue armchairs on three wheels pulled by nuns and nurses.
Most of these people wash in the sacred waters and worship in the basilica. As of , thousands of people said they had been cured at Lourdes but of these only 66 had been authenticated by the strict standards of the Catholic church, which include medical proof that the person was indeed sick before the miraculous cure and the symptoms disappeared within several hours and lasted for several years. Among those cured were Mademoiselle Dulot, who was cured of stomach and liver cancer in and went from being unable to eat or take liquids to having a ravenous hunger; the year-old Margerie Paulette, cured of tubercular meningitis in ; four-year-old Francis Pascal, cured of blindness and paralysis in ; and Guy Leydet, cured of idiocy and paralysis in