The Ache of Advent and What Mother Mary Can Teach Us

It’s a blessing to live in a climate where the seasons of the liturgical year clasp hands in prayer with that of the natural world. We’re in the middle of Advent, and in the northeastern USA, the dark and shorter days leave us yearning for more Light. The bare bones of tree branches reach achingly into grey snow clouds, desperately longing for the warmth of the Sun. Advent just feels like this fallow time, this…

Christmas Smells

For some people, the smells of Christmas are chestnuts roasting over an open fire (has anyone actually tried this?) or gingerbread cookies. Maybe it’s a peppermint hot chocolate, or that fresh scent of pine needles from a Christmas tree that puts you in the Christmas spirit. For me it’s the smell of manure. The smell of fodder, of earth, a dank cave or wet sheep’s wool. That smell you pick up from being with the…

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year A

  Quite often there are times in our lives or in the life of our nation, especially during war times, we can point to as having been a “turning point.” For example, during the American Revolution the Battle of Saratoga is often called a turning point or the great Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. World War II certainly had its turning points such as the Battle of Britain on the Western Front…

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent – Year A

  Until this point in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus had preached powerfully, especially in the Sermon on the Mount.  He had healed many, and more were seeking him.  He demanded much from his followers, but they saw the awesome power of God at work in Jesus Christ.  He spoke truth and walked in that truth. St. John the Baptist had also preached and walked in the truth, which landed him in prison.  He…

Advent and the Surrender of Almighty God

The word Islam has often been translated as peace, similar to the word shalom. The Arabic root for the word Islam, however, gives a fuller understanding; it means surrender or submission. This is the goal of Islam; the surrender and submission of everything to Allah, the One Who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. Allah, the absolute Master and Ruler of the universe. It’s believed that peace will come to the one who completely submits to Him. There is a clarity…

We Wait in Joyful Hope: Reflection for Second Sunday of Advent

  During these first couple weeks of Advent, by our joyful expectation of Christ’s coming in the flesh at Christmas, the Church turns our minds and hearts especially toward His second coming in glory.  As we closed the liturgical year with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the readings carried with them something of a foreboding tone, highlighting the power and universal dominion of Jesus throughout time and space.  But…

Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord

As I type this homily on November 10 for the celebration of the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord on December 25, I am reminded of the Christmas Day sermon preached by Pope Leo the Great when he was Supreme Pontiff (Pope) between 440-461 A.D called “In Nativitate Domini.” Naturally the Holy Father was expounding on the two natures of Jesus Christ and the beauty, necessity and importance of the Incarnation (the Son taking…

Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” The Holy Year of Mercy began only a few days ago on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. What a perfect day to begin. This feast calls to mind the beginning of God’s plan of merciful love. When all seemed lost because of the sin of our first parents, the Father turned his gaze to…

Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

In the Responsorial Psalm today we prayed, “To You, O Lord, I lift my soul.” These words that King David composed to God are really beautiful and we know that there were certainly times in his life when they were true. But we also know from history that he did not always lift up his soul to God. Certainly he kept his eyes fixed on God and his soul lifted up to our Lord when…