Category Archives: Advent Reflection

Advent

Almost The New (Liturgical) Year: Get myParish App Advent Features

The new Church liturgical year begins November 27 this year, the first Sunday of Advent. Advent focuses on the coming of our Lord:

The Catechism stresses the two-fold meaning of this coming : When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (No. 524).

Therefore, on one hand, the faithful reflect back and are encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s first coming into this world. We ponder again the great mystery of the incarnation when our Lord humbled Himself, taking on our humanity, and entered our time and space to free us from sin. On the other hand, we recall in the Creed that our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead and that we must be ready to meet Him.

We are offering our myParish App churches two great Advent features: a free Advent background and free Advent reflections. The reflections will be added to the app via a special Advent button. This means app users will receive Advent reflections every weekday during the Advent season. What a great way to prepare for the coming of our Lord!

To receive these free Advent features, simply click here. And Happy New Year!

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Today’s Gospel

“Rejoice! For a child is born!” These were my thoughts three weeks ago when my sister called me. She and her newborn were (are) happy and healthy. And of course, proud uncle-father that I am, I have spent the last three weeks showing pictures of my newest niece to anyone who stops long enough for me to pull out my phone. Rejoice, for a child is born! Proud and giddy, with giggles and smiles ready, I cannot wait to meet her, to hold her! But I must pause, somberly, and ask myself: whether or not I bear the same attitude towards Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas?

Christmas celebrates more than a birthday. It celebrates salvation and redemption! It celebrates God’s love! “The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: ‘In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.’ (1 Jn 4:9) ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (Jn 3:16)” (see CCC 458).

Puer natus est, nobis. A child is born for us. The child, Jesus, God-is-with-us, Emmanuel changes everything. God arrives on earth and becomes one of us. He humbles himself to share in our humanity so that we might share in his divinity. God arrives on earth to be, literally, with us. God comes to his people, so that he can be with you and me; God comes to his people, so that you and me can be with him. God comes to free us from the bondage of our sins. He is our Savior because he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This child, Jesus born of Mary changes everything because he is God who has come to visit and be with his people. My heart is moved by the thought of my little niece coming to visit me. May your hearts and mine be moved by the knowledge that God comes to live with us. May each of us respond to the mercy of the Nativity with love and joy as we celebrate Christmas this year.


Copyright Fr. Chuck Schwartz

Fr. Chuck Schwartz is priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Ordained in 2013, he is currently the associate pastor at St. Mary – St. Paul Parish in Big Rapids, MI and involved in campus ministry at Ferris State University.

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

Do you remember when growing up, the promise your father or mother would make each Christmas that Santa would come bringing lots of presents? So on Christmas Eve they would tell you to get ready for bed early and prepare a plate of cookies and milk for Santa, maybe even carrots for his reindeer! You may even do this with your children now. The excitement would be building up all day Christmas Eve! What a promise for them to make and to keep!

There is a greater promise, however, that has been made to us that sometimes we take for granted during Christmas. It is the promise God our Father made from the beginning through his prophets, like Nathan, that we will always be His, we will always be loved by Him, He will always be with us and how He has prepared a place for us in His Kingdom. God’s promise to us was fulfilled when He gave us His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary; a fulfillment we are called to remember each year at Christmas.

So how is this promise taken for granted? You may remember each year at Christmas the birth of Jesus, but how deep is the meaning of this to you? Do you remember that Jesus’ birth is because of the depth of God’s love for you? Do you remember Jesus was born, the dawn on high, because He knew the darkness you would experience? Do you remember that He was born, only to die, so that you could be freed from your sins? Do you remember His birth was so that He could show you the right path when you strayed and how to walk it? Do you remember the birth of Jesus was so you can experience the joy of God’s mercy and kindness? We need to go deeper each year and remind ourselves of the great promise God has fulfilled through the birth of his Son, the greatest Present.

Zacharia’s prophesy in today’s Gospel is a great way to remember God’s promise to His people, to us. It is also a great reminder how we, like John the Baptist, need to go before the Lord, and prepare in the hearts of others for His coming. To let them know, through our words and actions, the real reason Jesus was born was because He loves them, no matter what their life may be like, so that they may experience the peace of Christ in their hearts.

The promise of Santa Clause coming with many presents is fun and exciting, but let us reflect on this day before Christmas an even more exciting promise. Tonight or tomorrow at Mass, give thanks to God for that deeper reason Jesus was born for you!

Merry Christmas!!!


Copyright Br. Paul Culver, O.S.B.

Br. Paul Culver, O.S.B. is a Benedictine monk of the Sylvestrine Congregation at St. Benedict Monastery, Oxford, MI.

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:57-66

Optional Memorial of Saint John of Kanty, Priest

The story of John the Baptist’s birth is one of great mercy. Once again, God gives one of his people a chance to repent. After Zechariah loses his voice due to his questioning the angel about the “impossible” birth of his son, he is given the opportunity to show his faith and obedience to God by insisting that the child’s name will be John. When we look at our own lives, we see that life is full of choices. We can choose to obey God or to follow our own way. When we follow our own way, we are often met with many obstacles. In Zechariah’s case, he was unable to speak until the birth of John. However, when we follow God’s plan, the veil is often lifted in our lives. Just like Zechariah was able to speak again after his obedience, our lives are often blessed by our own obedience.

Ponder:

How have I lived my life today? Have I cooperated in God’s plan, or have I followed my own will?

Pray:

Dear Jesus, help me to follow your will in all things. If I fail and repent, please show your mercy as you did to Zechariah.


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Gladen

Jennifer Gladen is a children’s author who lives and writes in Pennsylvania. She is the author of A Star in the Night, Teresa’s Shadow, and Angel Donor through Guardian Angel Publishing. She contributes as a columnist at Catholic Mom and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild (C.W.G.) and the S.C.B.W.I. She has written several children’s stories, poems and articles, and started her own Catholic e-zine titled My Light Magazine.

CatholicMom.com provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit www.CatholicMom.com for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

In the Gospel today, our guide and mother in the Christian life gives us a model for our response to the wondrous event of the Incarnation when the Word comes to dwell among us in Jesus. Mary praises God not because the Almighty is powerful in a general, distant way but because God has looked at her, a poor young woman who has nothing to give but her love. Her praise is for God’s mercy, which lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry. She remembers the promise God had made to the Israelites (a promise made for us as well), and praises God for bringing that promise to fruition. This is the model Christians are called to emulate: We are called to recognize God’s caring gaze upon us, to praise God’s mercy which lifts us in our humility and feeds our deep spiritual hunger, and to remember God’s fidelity.

As the end of Advent approaches, we might want to ask ourselves: what response are we preparing to make to God’s presence among us? In the busy chaos of the week before Christmas, we might spend so much time looking for that perfect gift that we might not perceive that God’s loving gaze is upon us. Amid the Christmas tunes blaring from the radio stations, we might fail to hear God’s voice calling us out of our small and narrow perspectives to look to service among the lowly and hungry around us. We may forget that Christmas is more than simply “December 25” that rolls around every year but is the answer to the promise that God will never abandon humanity.

Mary’s response to the fulfillment of this promise was for her soul to proclaim the greatness of the Lord and her spirit to rejoice in God. Today, we are challenged to reflect on our own response. What do our souls proclaim? In what do our spirits rejoice?


Copyright Amy McLean

Amy McLean is currently pursuing her Masters of Theological Studies at the University of Notre Dame. She hopes to continue her studies on the doctoral level next year. Prior to graduate studies, she served as the middle and high school youth minister at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church in Raleigh, N.C.

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

“He’s coming. He’s coming! He’s coming home!

Imagine someone exclaiming with great joy after she has heard the news that a dearly-loved one (husband, son, brother, cousin, or friend) is returning home after being away for a very long time. Her face may first register shock, then joy, and then eager anticipation of all that needs to be done to welcome him. The news would be a great gift—especially after anxious waiting makes each passing day grow longer and darker than the last: would the time ever arrive for him to come home?

Like Elizabeth when she hears Mary’s greeting, we respond with joy when we remember that God joins our humanity—with her, we marvel, “Why has this happened to us, that our Lord comes to us?” We hasten to share this joy with others—just as Mary did—so they, too, may hear this wonderful news and help prepare for the Coming One.

Many of us have experienced waiting in vigil with what seemed like tiny lights in the darkness—the birth of a child in the delivery room, a brother coming home after a semester at college, or the return of a father to his family after years at war. The waiting inspires us to seek each other out, to enter one another’s homes, to greet each other with the good news that is coming to fulfillment.

As we await the celebration of the Light of the World at Christmas, let us join Mary and set out with haste to greet each other, share joy, prepare room, keep vigil, show mercy, and magnify God. The Coming One enters the doors of our hearts—may we leap for joy at the sound of his greeting.


Copyright Grace Mariette Agolia ’17

Grace Mariette Agolia is currently a student at the University of Notre Dame class of 2017.

This reflection comes from FaithND’s Daily Gospel Reflection series, which can be found here.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

Rejoice! Rejoice! Are you still rejoicing from last Sunday? In this last week of Advent, we are quickly approaching the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! As we patiently await with appreciative abandonment for this beautiful mystery to come to light, we are filled with excitement and anticipation!

In today’s first reading, God foretells to the Prophet Micah the birth of Jesus from the womb of the Blessed Virgin, Mary, to which all will be gathered the children of Israel. Before, sacrifice and offerings of bullocks, goats, etc were made according to the law, not the desire of God. Thanks to the “Yes!” of Mary, an offering of the body of Jesus Christ consecrates us once for all.

Every year old toys, clothes and games are thrown out or donated to make way for the new gifts we receive at Christmas. And, when we receive these new gifts, we are elated with joy! But do we take the time to clear out the things that keep the gifts of God from entering our hearts? We don’t have to wait for Lent to detach ourselves from the things that distract us from God. We can do this year-round, especially by receiving the sacraments often. When we make clear a path, we are able to hear the voice of the Lord and then we too can leap with joy as did the infant in Elizabeth’s womb. Mary wants to bring us the best Christmas gift ever, her Child Jesus, so we may experience the joys and consolations that will bring us new life!!!

So Rejoice! Rejoice now and throughout the year for a Savior is born, Emmanuel!!!

Peace to all and Merry Christmas!!!


Copyright Br. Paul Culver, O.S.B.

Br. Paul Culver, O.S.B. is a Benedictine monk of the Sylvestrine Congregation at St. Benedict Monastery, Oxford, MI.

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:5-25

In these final days leading up to Christmas, we hear stories about impossible things happening in the lives of ordinary people. During this season, we hear about the virginal conception of Jesus, angels appearing during the night, and a poor family who narrowly escapes the powerful tyrant Harod. Impossible things are happening everywhere! In today’s Gospel reading, another impossible thing happens: barren Elizabeth becomes pregnant in her old age. The good news of the Advent-Christmas story seems to be that “all things are possible for God.” God interrupts the lives of ordinary folks and does impossible things they never dreamed of.

In a certain way, the Christian is always seeking the impossible. The Christian life is essentially a life animated by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, who does impossible things through us. But the impossible is not at all limited to the miraculous. The Beatitudes, forgiving one’s neighbor, turning the other cheek, total self-sacrifice: these are impossible in the eyes of the world. In fact, these things are impossible without the transformative grace of God – and this is what the Christian life is meant to show. Not drawing any attention to ourselves, our lives are meant to show how great God is. Jesus commands us to do impossible things, so that we might bear witness to God’s power and mercy. How else could we “be perfect as the heavenly father is perfect?” (Matthew 5:48).

A witness such as this begins with faith in God’s ability to do all things. Zachariah did not believe in this good news, and he was made silent as a result. Lack of faith results in silence. If Christians do not believe that God is capable of transforming our reality, then our lives become silent, as it were. If our lives are not transformed by grace, then we don’t have much to say in the end. If we don’t trust in God’s help, our lives won’t witness to anything beyond ourselves. We will be mute rather than proclaiming God’s greatness.

On the other hand, the Gospel portrays silence as a good. After Zachariah disbelieved the angel’s words, silence was not a punishment but a remedy to his disbelief. After nine months Zachariah regained his voice, and he used it to proclaim the power and the faithful love of God (Luke 1:68-79). In his silence, Zachariah was enabled to see God working. Silence can be a remedy for our faith too. Silence is the soil of the Christian life. Regular silence makes us reflective, discerning, and open individuals. If we spend time in prayer daily and open ourselves to God, we will be amazed to see the God of wonders make the impossible become possible in us.


Copyright Karl Romkema, C.S.C.

Karl Romkema, C.S.C., is a seminarian for the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province.   Before entering religious life, Karl attended Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Waterford, MI, and is now a Master of Divinity student at the University of Notre Dame.

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph was a righteous and faithful man, and he had a plan. He was in the midst of a difficult situation, and he “had in mind to divorce Mary quietly.” He resolved to do what he thought was best to protect Mary from any shame or cruelty.

God had a different plan for Joseph.

What plan does God have for our lives? What is God calling us to do or to become? How does God communicate that plan? These are not easy questions to answer.

God may not send an angel to us in a dream, as happened to Joseph, but God is revealing a plan for us through our experiences, our interactions with others, our struggles, and our triumphs. We communicate with God in prayer and through the Holy Spirit. We need to be receptive to God’s call in our lives, and have Joseph’s courage to act in accordance with God’s plan, rather than our own.

Like Joseph, we might fear the uncertainty of the future. We might fear pain and suffering, not being accepted, being alone, or trying and failing, but God gives us the same message Joseph received: “Do not be afraid.” God goes before us always—Joseph was told that the child was to be called “Immanuel” or “God with us.”

We will never be left to follow our vocation alone. In this season of Advent, let us be filled with joy instead of fear. God will always be with us.


Copyright Kelly O’Brien

Kelly O’Brien is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame class of 2011.

This reflection comes from FaithND’s Daily Gospel Reflection series, which can be found here.

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 1:1-17

Our family attended a Maronite Rite Catholic church for many years as our children were growing up. I remember the first time today’s gospel was the reading of the day, looking forward to our Lebanese priest saying all the names. I thought that being from the Middle East, he would be able to say them accurately with the accents in the appropriate places. I was surprised when he said this passage is one of the greatest passages in which he struggles to pronounce correctly. Regardless, he did a beautiful job. The genealogy of Christ shows a struggle in more than just the pronunciation of the names. It shows the struggles in the lineage of Jesus. Many of the names listed in the family tree were of people who struggled to follow the law of God and yet still from them came the Messiah. We know the sins of David, and yet God called him a man after His own heart. He is even the one from whose house Jesus is descended. There are men and women included in the family tree. Three of the four women, excluding Ruth, were women who had committed sexual sins. What can we take from this historical passage of scripture? We can see that Christ came to save us all: men, women, sinners. There is no one that is exempt from the love of Christ. He comes as a tiny infant ready to love us all. Think of how much love we feel when we hold a newborn and how receptive to love a newborn is. Christ, both as the Baby Jesus as well as the King of Kings, is always calling us to Him, ready to fill our hearts with His love so that we have the ability to return that love back to its origin, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Ponder:

This Advent can I put aside my imperfections and just let the Baby Jesus love me?

Pray:

Lord, you are both King of Kings and the beautiful Baby Jesus. Help me to draw nearer to your innocence as an infant so that I may see your brilliance as my Heavenly King. Amen.


Copyright 2015 Diane Schwind

Diane Schwind is the wife of Robert and the mother of four grown children and two grandchildren on the way. They live in a small town in north Texas. Robert and Diane have a marriage and family apostolate, Balanced Families Ministries. Through this ministry they speak at seminars and conferences and offer one and two night marriage retreats sharing the teaching of the Catholic faith on marriage and family with an emphasis on Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Diane can be reached at http://www.balancedfamiliesministries.com/ as well as their Facebook page for the apostolate, Balanced Families Ministries.

CatholicMom.com provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit www.CatholicMom.com for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.