Not sure why so many people are startled when they learn that young Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a nightclub bouncer in Argentina. When one considers the multitude, diversity and state of mind of people with whom a bouncer has to deal, that would be excellent training for a future pope. I’m just trying to picture the scene if/when he denied someone admission to the place.

Turned away patron: “Hey, Bergoglio!!! Who do you think you are – the pope?!?”

Bergoglio the bouncer: “Well, not yet…”

A lot to say: The pope’s apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” is about 50,000 words of spiritual nourishment – ideal for Advent. He devotes nearly 5,000 words to “the homily.” Among his statements is this one: “The preacher who does not prepare is not ‘spiritual’; he is dishonest and irresponsible with the gifts he has received.” In other words, he doesn’t want homilists to “wing it.”

You can read the entire document here.

Speaking of the Vicar of Christ, he will celebrate his 77th birthday on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Advent fun: Since it is evident that keeping Christ in Advent and Christmas is not within major retailers’ marketing strategies, it’s up to you and me to provide the reminders. If you don’t mind being embarrassed for our Lord, try this: Stand in front of a display of Christmas cards that contains no or few religious cards, and ask in a loud voice to no one in particular, “Hey! Where’re the pictures of Baby Jesus!?!” Someone might take notice – like fellow shoppers and the store’s employees, including security.

Those preparing students for the sacrament of confirmation might want to have them try this as an exercise in defending and/or promoting the faith.

Variations, such as a simple “Where’s Baby Jesus!?!” can be employed in front of ornament displays and shelves full of outdoor decorations. Obnoxious? Possibly. Annoying? Sure, but so is a retail-based culture that purposely omits Christ from Advent and Christmas.

I welcome your ideas on how you convey the “Keep Christ in Christmas” message to those focused on the holly instead of the holy.

Seasons of hope: Advent and the remainder of the Packers’ schedule.

Reminder: Put your shoes out this Thursday night in anticipation of the Feast of Saint Nicholas.