06 December 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of candles.

Advent's Call to Wait in Joyful Hope

The holiday season is upon us once again! That means we'll soon be buying gifts, decorating the tree, and maybe attending a Christmas party or two. But as great as those things are, we don't want them to distract us from the Christ-centered nature of the season. That’s why it's so important to make time in our schedules to prayerfully observe Advent.

I recently interviewed two authors whose books of daily reflections, prayers, and meditations are specifically designed to help you do just that. Mary DeTurris Poust, communications director for the diocese of Albany, penned Waiting in Joyful Hope, while Sister Kathryn Hermes, along with several of her fellow Pauline sisters, authored Advent Christmas Grace.

For DeTurris Poust, Advent doesn't come easy. It requires slowing down, she said, "and I'm not a very patient person. I talk fast, I walk fast, I like everything to happen now. Learning [to slow down] has been important for me, and I'm still working on it."

Both authors note the importance of Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) on the way they put together their books. It's not a passive experience, but rather a deliberate effort to enter the Scriptures and see how God is trying to communicate with us today. That can be especially important for people enduring pain and struggles during the holiday season. Sister Kathryn advised, "I often suggest walking into the stable with your pain, kind of like the little drummer boy...Walk into the Scriptures with your pain, and imagine picking up the Christ child or sitting next to Mary or Joseph and allowing the presence of Jesus to touch you. The words that are in these books are powerful, and they can give us new thoughts and new direction. The Holy Spirit can speak through them and open up a new door into our hearts, especially for people who are carrying the pain of loss, depression or failure. You've got to bring your own reality into these books and allow Jesus to meet you where you are."

DeTurris Poust knows that we can miss the relevance of the Christmas story to our modern lives because we've heard it so many times. Entering the story ourselves can make a difference in how we respond. She says, "We ought to think about Mary hearing this message [from the angel Gabriel]. She was greatly troubled. She had to contemplate that. Then moving forward with Joseph, everything that transpired were difficult human things they had to face. We can forget, when we're caught in our own trouble, that Mary and Joseph faced real challenges, not knowing everything that was coming. [But] they trusted, and we can do the same. We can look to them and find peace and trust in that place with them."

Ultimately, Advent is meant to bring us closer to Jesus. Sister Kathryn says, "More than making a friend of Jesus is realizing that He has befriended us. Just the awe and the humbling reality that God - the divinity, my Creator - wanted to me my friend!..If Pope Francis came and said, 'Sister Kathryn, I want to be your friend,' I'd be like,'Wow, that is really cool!'"

DeTurris Poust concludes, "I think children and adults need to be reminded that [friendship] exists. It's not something we have to earn [or] seek in a special way. We just have to turn ourselves toward Jesus and put ourselves in God's presence. Again, it comes back to that daily time spent in prayer."

This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column, written by Tony Rossi, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Background information:

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from St. Josemaría Escrivá

"God calls us through what happens during our day: through the suffering and happiness of the people we live with, through the human interests of our colleagues and the things that make up our family life." - Saint Josemaría Escrivá

05 December 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of quiet, reflective periods of time.

On the Catholic Observance of Advent

"During the weeks before Christmas, Catholic churches stand out for what they are missing.

"Unlike stores, malls, public buildings and homes that start gearing up for Christmas at least by Thanksgiving, churches appear almost stark save for Advent wreaths and maybe some greenery or white lights.

"'The chance for us to be a little out of sync or a little countercultural is not a bad thing,' said Paulist Father Larry Rice, director of the University Catholic Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
By the same token, he is not about to completely avoid listening to Christmas music until Dec. 24 either. The key is to experience that 'being out of sync feeling in a way that is helpful and teaches us something about our faith,' he told Catholic News Service.

"Others find with the frenetic pace of the Christmas season it is calming to go into an undecorated church and sing more somber hymns like 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.' But that shouldn't be the only draw, noted Jesuit Father Bruce Morrill, who is the Edward A. Malloy professor of Catholic studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee.

"He said the dissonance between how the church and society at large celebrate Christmas is that the church celebration begins, not ends, Dec. 25. The shopping season and Christian church calendar overlap, but don't connect, he added.

"And even though Catholic churches - in liturgies at least - steer clear of Christmas carols during Advent and keep their decorations to a minimum, Morrill said he isn't about to advise Catholic families to do the same. . . ."

 In a recent commentary, writer Carol Zimmermann offered some reflections on the importance of Advent in the liturgical life of the Church and her people.

To access Ms. Zimmermann's complete essay, please visit:

Crux: Catholic liturgies avoid Christmas decorations, carols in Advent (2 DEC 17)

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip.

Reflection Starter from St. Teresa of Avila

"God has been very good to me, for I never dwell upon anything wrong which a person has done, so as to remember it afterwards. If I do remember it, I always see some other virtue in that person." - Saint Teresa of Avila

03 December 2017

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the blessings You have planned for us during this holy season of Advent.

Msgr. Pope on Letting God Find You

"It may seem odd to say, 'Let God find you.' After all, God knows just where we are. But there is something very respectful about a God who, as Jesus says in the Book of Revelation, stands at the door and knocks. Even back in the Garden of Eden, as sinful Adam and Eve hid, God walked through the garden and called, 'Where are you?'" 

"Yes, God waits until we let him find us, until we open the door of our heart where he knocks, or until we decide to come out of hiding.

"But God does knock. He sends us prophets and speaks through creation and His Word to establish a connection with us. He seeks a connection. . . ." 

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of letting God find us, meeting us where we are. 

To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit: 

Community in Mission: Let God Find You - As Seen in a Touching Christmas Commercial (1 DEC 17)