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POETRY: Advent Calendar by Rowan Williams

He will come like last leaf’s fall. One night when the November wind has flayed the trees to bone, and earth wakes choking on the mould, the soft shroud’s folding. He will come like frost. One morning when the shrinking earth opens on mist, to find itself arrested in the net of alien, sword-set [...]

Advent prayers

  • Second Sunday Of Advent by Mitch Finley
    From Season of Promises Every one of us forms an idea of Christ that is limited and incomplete.  It is cut according to our own measure.  We tend to create for ourselves a Christ in our own image, a projection of our own aspirations, desires, and ideals.  We find in him what we want to find.  We make him not only the incarnation of God but also the incarnation of the things we and our society and our part of society happen to live for. (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation) Who is the [...]

Advent reflections

  • Advent Day 7 Personal Reflection by Enuma Okoro
    From Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent Doubt is common to more people of faith than perhaps care to admit it.  Ebbing back and forth in trust and belief is not something to be proud of but it is also not something of which to be ashamed.  It is simply part of our human condition this side of Heaven.  Some people experience less or more of it than others.  We find grace in the stories of scripture that highlight characters who experience doubt and questioning, who want proof [...]

Advent poetry

Advent meditations

  • Meditation by Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster
    From Christ and the Human Life Above the portal of the ancient cathedral in Lisbon is found a marvelous portrayal of the Blessed Mother and her child.  Mary, the image of purity and divine grace, is not bent over the child: she is looking far, far away, as if she were contemplating the deepest meaning of the Incarnation of the divine Spirit and as if she were surveying the immeasurable consequences of the event upon which shone the star of Bethlehem.  What is that deepest meaning?  It [...]

Mary said to Gabriel, “How can this be?”
(Luke 1:26-38)


Have you ever felt jealous when your best friend or sibling gets complemented? Today’s feast and solemnity may be likened to someone coming up to your best friend or sibling and saying to them and not to you, “You have the most beautiful eyes.” “Your hair is so shiny.” “Your skin is so clear.” “You have a wonderful smile.” “You radiate peace.” “Your joy is so attractive.” “You are so witty.” “You are such a hard worker.” “You always give your best.” “You are so smart.” “You are so responsible.” “You are so kind and caring.” “You are so holy!” “You are simply amazing!”


Of course the temptation is to be jealous. After all, you might be thinking that the only reason why they are so much better than you is because it’s all in their DNA! Or that they were born that way! But I think it is perfectly fine to complement someone. In fact, it would be sad not to give recognition for the beauty or talent that God has freely given to the world.


Mary is loved, much more loved than I. Mary has been loved for well over a thousand years! Yes, God had a big role for her, a much bigger role than for me. He saved her from the moment of her conception. You can say that it all began in her “physical” and “spiritual” DNA; that from the very beginning she had a propensity for “positiveness” – for faith, hope and love. But we cannot forget that surroundings, our environment, – hostile or friendly – can greatly influence who we are.


Have you experienced betrayal? Has it left a scar? Has it left hardness in your heart? Did you once upon a time believe (as the song goes) that love could pay the rent? I remember growing up watching Sony and Cher and being shocked that they got a divorce? I really believed they had it all, even a love that could pay the rent!


Where are you? Have you experienced heartbreak, mental breakdowns and/or financial collapse? If so, what has it done to you? Has it scarred you for life? Have you lost your faith, your hope and your ability to love because of horrible things that may have happened to you?


Mary is the model of holiness not because she was born without sin but of what she did with that fact. It would be foolish for us to forget that she too experienced, throughout her life, the sting of poverty. Although she was the handmaid of the Lord, she was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She experienced all forms of hardship. Economic poverty forced the young couple to give birth in a manger. Mary may have been strong spiritually, but physically she was a young girl. For months she lived in hiding, fleeing from the wrath of Herod. Mary did not possess a single ounce of supernatural power, even though she carried the super power of the world. She experienced the loss of family members just as much as we do and maybe even more! Mary was a widow at a very young age, too young. And of course, she was an eye-witness to her son’s torture, scorn and execution. Mary experienced the horrific loss of a child in a way that many of us will never (thank God!) experience. But I know of a few that have!


How did she do it? Was it all in her DNA? No. It was all in her prayer life! Mary could have said, “Enough! I am done! Be gone from me, Lord!” but she didn’t. We can’t either. She knew and kept reminding herself over and over again that she had been conceived by the grace of God and she would not be deceived by the sins of the devil!


We don’t have to collapse because the world is collapsing around us. We can be like Mary and stand tall through Him that gives us strength!


Recently, a young soul wrote to me, “Father, can you help me? I just woke up a while ago because my parent’s didn’t wake me up to go to 10:00 am or noon Mass. That makes me so mad because I hate going to the other Masses. On top of that I only had some free time this morning and two hours in the afternoon. I was going to go use those two hours for something else. I know I should go to Mass especially since we didn’t go last week because we were traveling. If I do go to Church though I’m going to be mad and I shouldn’t go to Mass mad so I’m not sure what to do?”


I replied, “Go to Mass. Always go to Mass even if it is raining in your heart or there is a tornado in your soul or if there is coldness in your thoughts! The Lord loves to light a fire where there is none. I’m sure that will get you radiating once again.”


T’is the season to be holy! Take care of your faith, support it, nourish it and supplement it with virtue, morals, principles and prayer. Remember who conceived you. Remember who constantly deceives you!


Mary overcame all things in her life not because she was superwoman but because she was super strong in her hope. One day…one day…I shall see you face to face and then we shall laugh together!


The secret to life is to increase your spiritual life. This must increase as I decrease.


(Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse)

Thomas Merton’s voice

The Three Advents 


Saint Bernard frequently returns to the idea of the “three Advents” of Christ. The first of these is the one in which he entered into the world, having received a Human Nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The third is the Advent which will bring him into the world at the end of time to judge the living and the dead.


We learn to recognize the present Advent that is taking place at every moment in our own Earthly life as wayfarers. We awaken to the fact that every moment of time is a moment of judgment, that Christ is passing by and that we are judged by our awareness of his passing. If we join him and travel with him to the kingdom, the judgment becomes for us salvation. But if we neglect him and let him go by, our neglect is our condemnation! No wonder Saint Bernard would not have us ignorant of the Second Advent.


(Seasons of Celebration)