As we travel through the final days of Advent, leading to the joy of Christmas, I call your attention to several stories in this issue of the Register that can help you prepare for the journey.

While this season tends to be busy and easily distracting from spiritual realities, our Advent guides — "The How (and Why) of Daily Prayer" and "A Guide to Living the Catholic Basics" (Culture of Life) — and Father Robert Connor’s Advent column on page 7 can help us stay rooted in the deepest meaning of the season: Emmanuel, "God with us."

On page 1, we offer a review of Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives; and our Travel, History & Saints section’s "Walk in the Footsteps of the Holy Family at Christmas" and "Recommit to Christ at the Crèche" will help us to contemplate the concrete reality of Christ’s birth.

As we plan our own Christmas schedules, we can be attuned to the Holy Father’s Christmastide agenda (highlighted on page 1), which culminates with his midnight Mass and Christmas Day message, both of which will be aired live on EWTN.

We round out our seasonal features with the helpful "Last-Minute Christmas Gift Guide" (starting on page C1), our annual report on national efforts to "keep Christ in Christmas" (page 2) and our annual Christmas book recommendations for children (page B4).

At this joy-filled time of year, I echo the Pope’s words from his 2007 Christmas Day address urbi et orbi ("to the city of Rome and to the world"), when he said: "May the Lord, who has made his merciful face to shine in Christ, fill you with his happiness and make you messengers of his goodness."

Merry Christmas!