Category Archives: Advent Reflection

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 7:18B-23

Jesus chose not to give the disciples of John the Baptist a direct answer. They had asked if He were the one who is to come or not, and Jesus does not tell them directly. Rather, he points to the signs of His Presence, the works that He has been sent by the Father to do. The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, [and] the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. These signs are reassuring, they point out to us that the promises made to Isaiah and all the prophets are being fulfilled in Jesus the Lord. We can turn to the Lord and be safe, for He has won the victory for us, and we can trust that our God is indeed the just and saving God revealed by Isaiah.

These signs of Jesus also disturb us, because they confront us with a demanding choice, just as they did for John and his disciples. In seeing the signs that the Lord does, we are confronted with the stark choice of how we wish to respond: will we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and live our lives accordingly; or will we choose an easier path, a path that leads somewhere other than the cross?

Copyright Fr. Scott Nolan

Fr. Scott Nolan is a priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. He currently serves in the city of Grand Rapids as the Associate Pastor of the Basilica of St. Adalbert, St. James Church, and St. Mary parish. He is also the chaplain of West Catholic High School.

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

Ah, today’s Gospel is beautiful! We are reminded to respond to God and do his will. To be quite honest, there are times I have not wanted to do something, but, like the first son, I changed my mind and did what I was called to do.

I think we experience this a lot in our lives. God calls us to a certain task or mission, but we resist. Sometimes we flat out say, “I will not.” Other times we say yes, with no intention of doing it. As the Holy Spirit works within us, we have a change of heart and tend to the task or mission God has called us to.

As I thought about today’s Gospel, I was reminded of my children. Sometimes I would ask them to do something, and as very small children they would refuse. Some of my children would reconsider and do as I asked, even though they initially told me no, while others would tell me they would do it, only for me to find out later that they did not keep their word and follow through on their task. What is a parent to do? Children have consequences for not doing as told, just as I do, as a child of God. I would rather be as the tax collectors and prostitutes and turn from sin and join them in the Kingdom of God than spend eternity paying for my unwillingness to obey.


Do I hear the call of Christ and yet ignore him, or say yes but not follow through? Why do I do this? Do I consider the long-term consequences of my refusal to obey God? Do I consider how my lack of response affects those around me or myself?


Dear Lord, help me to be open to responding to your call, whether it be in a ministry or helping someone out that I do not want to. Help me to think beyond this moment to the future when I will be judged. Guide me on my spiritual journey towards you so that I may join you in the Kingdom of God when my time comes.

Copyright 2015 Lorrie Lane Dyer

Lorrie Lane Dyer is a religious education and parish coordinator at her local Catholic Church. She is also a facilitator for the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation with the University of Dayton. She is studying Theology at St. Mary of the Woods College with the intention of earning a PhD in Theology. She has written poetry and short stories for over thirty years. Her faith provides her with inspiration for many of her poetry collections, columns and short stories. Lorrie was the creator, editor and writer for The Catholic World, St. Francis of Assisi, has been published in numerous anthologies. provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 21:23-27

The chief priests and elders were annoyed by Jesus. They tried to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him. They want Him to admit He was God, which would be blasphemy, or just own up to being a fraud.

Jesus turned the table on them by answering their questions with questions. If they say John’s baptism wasn’t of God, they would make the crowd angry. If they admit it was from God, they would be admitting that were unbelievers. Either way would be bad for them. In their frustration, they admit they don’t know. Jesus then refuses to answer their questions since they couldn’t answer His.

The chief priests and elders focused too much on other people’s opinions. They missed what was right in front of them. We often do the same. We are so busy trying to win people’s favor. When we focus too much on that, we might miss what is standing right in front of us. In this case, it was Jesus Himself.


Do I worry too much about how others perceive me?

Am I missing the obvious?

How can I focus on what is truly important?


Jesus, teach me to be concerned with what You think. Do not allow me to fixate on other people’s opinions of me. Reveal yourself fully to me. Amen.

Copyright 2015 Ellen Toole

The co-creator of the family funny online comic strip GRACIELAND, Ellen Toole is a professional educator, facilitator and writer with a passion for Scripture. Ellen has a B.A. degree in Elementary Education from Boston College, and is committed to making faith relevant in everyday life via innovative, inspiring and fresh and fun ideas. provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Third Sunday of Advent

Third Sunday of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 3:10-18

Do you sometimes wonder, like me, how can we make the Gospel come to life for our children?

In today’s Gospel, I believe we can do just that by teaching them the art of giving, of sharing our blessings. How many moms use these weeks leading up to Christmas to clean out their children’s rooms to make space for the incoming Christmas gifts. In our society, preparing for the holiday of Christmas has taken over the Advent season. It is a spiritual mistake to overlook this beautiful preparation time, not for the holiday but for the coming of Christ. We should be preparing to welcome him into our hearts and to celebrate the humble gift his birth is to each and every one of us – and all that means to our lives.

Today, John the Baptist, the one whose mission was to prepare the way of the Lord, is reminding us and truly giving us instructions on how to prepare for Christ. For us and our children, we can use this lesson to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas by sharing our second cloak or loaf of bread. We can offer clothes and food for the naked and hungry. We can take part of our budget for gifts and feasts and share that with those in need, certainly, but there is more we can do.

Some of my greatest lessons in life have been learned by participation in the task and not just being told about it. We help our children develop a charitable and compassionate character when we allow them to select for themselves the beloved toy or dress they will bless forward, especially when giving that item away is difficult.

Recently, I was cleaning my daughter Faith’s room with her. Although she loves to organize, the idea that things would be leaving the house was a little bit of a struggle for her. She would sign, “Fine,” when I picked up something she wanted to keep. I smiled, then reminded her how often that thing was played with or used, and how someone else could be blessed with this toy, book, or dress. The funny thing is the more she gave away the more she wanted to give. The excitement in her face as she looked at her clean room and the box full of blessings was priceless. Come 10 years from now I bet she’ll remember that day cleaning and blessing more than any of the toys she received just a few weeks later.

Children are never too young to learn generosity, and nothing prepares a heart for Christ like practicing generosity. As we travel through this beautiful preparation time of Advent, let us roll up our sleeves, grab some boxes, and make room for Christ. Share your blessings, train your children, and wait upon the Lord. God is never outdone in His generosity.


What can you do during this time of preparation with your family to make room for Christ in your heart and in your home?


Mother Mary, today I pray to you for guidance on how to best prepare my heart, my home and my family for the coming of Christ. Blessed Mother, you were the first to have this amazing privilege, and I can think of no one better to ask for help during this time. Pray for us, that we may be ready today and always to welcome Christ in!

Copyright 2015 Allison Gingras

Allison Gingras, founder (RTY); and host of A Seeking Heart on Real Life Radio weekdays 10 am ET. Allison created the “Words with” daily devotional App Series: Words with Jesus and Words with Mary. Allison offers retreats and presentations: Seeking Faith Series, the Blessed Mother and Technology & Evangelization. provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38

Today, we, the Church, celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Patroness of the Americas, and so we invoke her protection and intercession in a particular way today. Celebrating this feast of our Mother Mary does not draw us away from Advent but deepens our adventure as we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Mary, as she appeared at Tepeyac in 1531, spoke these words to Juan Diego:

“Know for certain, least of my sons, that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God through whom everything lives, the Lord of all things near and far, the Master of heaven and earth. It is my earnest wish that a temple be built here to my honor. Here I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.”

Our Mother of Mercy, Our Lady desires each of us to be healed from our suffering and sorrow. Her desire is fulfilled for you and for me when our prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus,” is fulfilled. When the dawn from on high breaks upon us, Christ Jesus comes to wipe away every tear from our eyes. Indeed, Jesus comes to make all things new. Our Lady’s desire expressed in 1531, is the same, and is the same as her desire when she said, “Yes,” to the Angel Gabriel in Nazareth. It is to be the instrument of God as he answers our prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Every day of the season of Advent pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Let it be our rallying cry! May it drive our joy and our hope, knowing that God comes to dwell with his people. “Come, Lord Jesus!” It is the prayer that was answered in Bethlehem, and the prayer we make each and everyday: “Come, Lord Jesus, today, into my heart, into my life.” Now is the time to prepare for the arrival of Jesus Christ. Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, walk with Our Lady, our Most Merciful Mother from the Annunciation in Nazareth to the Nativity in Bethlehem. And as you pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” our Mother Mary will bring him to you.

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.

Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19

Optional Memorial of St. Damasus I, Pope

Does Jesus sound a bit exasperated in today’s gospel? The people cannot hear His music or His song. With the coming of His birth in just a few weeks, Christmas music is all around us. But are we really listening to Him?

In any number of ways, many invitations to encounter God are being offered, but people are not open to His coming. Jesus seems to be comparing it to musicians playing inspiring music, lovers singing songs of the heart like the angels’ choirs on that first Christmas night, and dancers moving with grace. All His Beauty was being proposed on that Silent Night so that people might have joy, but no one is catching the message and no one is responding! It was the same in Jesus’ adult years on earth. Those who are coming in the name of God are observed eating or not eating, drinking or not drinking, and either way are judged as demonic or sinner. No matter what Jesus or His disciples were doing, they must be up to no good. It must have been a moment of sadness for Our Lord, who so desired for this generation to hear His voice and the love song He’d been singing ever since His birth. And imagine if someone were to hear and have faith in the sweet music and feel moved in body and in spirit to respond. Others might think these “dancers” insane.

Jesus ends his remarks by saying wisdom will prevail. Wisdom is the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit because it is the perfection of the theological virtue of faith. Through wisdom, we come to value all that is revealed to us through faith. Our senses are open to the Beauty that is offered us in the manger. The truths of Christian faith are more important to us than the things of this world, or what others may think of us. Wisdom helps us untwist our disordered relationship to the created world so that loving creation becomes for the sake of God alone, rather than for its own sake. God in all His glory and beauty will be known. Though we must be patient with the off-key misinterpretations of His song, it is our hope that His coming will lead us eventually to the freedom required to sing and to dance in harmony with Him.


How can I keep singing with joy this Advent, as I hope in my Savior’s coming to be one with us? Am I having difficulty hearing His melodious voice because of the noise or materialism of the created world, especially during this preparation for the Christmas season?


Lord Jesus, my Savior, may wisdom prevail over me during this Advent season. I pray for more faith in You so that I can hear your voice and respond with my own song and dance. Might I remember, too, the gift of silence in a world so distracted by noise. Come, Lord Jesus, and let us sing Christmas praise!

Copyright 2015 Cynthia Ann Costello

Cynthia Ann Costello, married 29 years to her husband Tom, is a Catholic mom blessed with three adult and two teenaged children. She has been homeschooling for 18years and is a graduate of the Theology of the Body Institute, in Downingtown, PA. She shares the message of TOB in two dioceses in NJ with adults, engaged couples, and teens. These programs include God’s Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage and Theology of the Body for Teens by Ascension Press, and other talks she has designed, including her certification practicum entitled Mary and the Theology of the Body. She enjoys writing for the Gospel Reflection Team at and on her blog at provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15

In today’s Gospel, Jesus praises John the Baptist in the strongest words of recognition that we can recall Jesus ever saying. And a spiritual formator that Deacon Tom had in his life used to say that there is no greater effort we could work towards than being like John the Baptist.

Was the praise given by Jesus because of John the Baptist giving up his life for Truth? No, we think not. There are many who have lost their lives in a variety of ways before and after John. Was it because he spoke the Truth, standing up against authority and society? Well, perhaps a bit—but certainly others have done likewise. So what’s your thought on this question?

John the Baptist was a forerunner…a precedent-setting, fearless witness. There are so many areas seeking forerunners today. We need people willing to be a voice unconcerned about peer, family, or neighborhood pressures.

The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. We have a lot of people—maybe a majority—who are great at complaining. The difference between John the Baptist and complainers is that no one could dispute John the Baptist. Even Herod was magnetically drawn to the Truth of John, the forerunner.

Are any of us willing to shrug off the chains of conformity? Are any of us willing to challenge and not accept being patted on the head and told to go to our corner and sit down at the back table?

Not in today’s Gospel, but tied to this reflection, Scripture tells us: “For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


If we are honest, we can see so much complacency and conformity around us. Am I willing to just pray… pray that God will issue a new ‘work’ in the area and circumstances that I live in?


Lord Jesus, I don’t so much seek your praise, but I seek to know and to do your will. Even if it is scary or uncomfortable. I know you would never embarrass me, but like John the Baptist and Francis of Assisi, let me be willing to be a ‘fool for Christ.’ A forerunner for Jesus.

Copyright 2015 Deacon Tom Fox

Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings! provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

Optional Memorial of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (USA)

It is easier for us to trust in God in times when we feel that He is on our side. Though the world around us may appear to be in endless strife, the fact that we have been protected from harm helps us to feel certain of God’s guiding hand in our lives. But anyone who has suffered affliction or experienced personal tragedy knows just how distant God can seem in those times. As darkness presses on we call on the Lord for help; and when our suffering continues we fear that our prayers have been swallowed up into the dark abyss. Where is God? Why has He forsaken me? Dejected, we join Israel in crying out, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God.”

Today’s readings serve to remind us of God’s abiding presence in times of suffering and of the strength that He gives to overcome the darkness of our lives. Though we may seem to be on the cusp of destruction, He will never let us fall. For, “He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound.” Indeed, that grace which our God gives in these times is not just that which helps us to get by. Rather, His grace is transformative, so that through our hope in the Lord, we “will soar as with eagles’ wings.”

On this feast day of St. Juan Diego, let us recall what our Lord God did for His children through the gift of His Mother in Our Lady of Guadalupe. Ten years after the Spanish conquest, the indigenous peoples of Mexico had been living in utter despair. Their culture, which had existed for hundreds of years, had been destroyed and was in the process of being replaced by a totally foreign one. Years of warfare, disease, and subjugation had left the people broken and without hope. Yet, it was out of this darkness that the Lord chose Juan Diego to reveal the love of His Mother through the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This image, which presents the Virgin Mary as one fully incarnated in the indigenous culture, served as a reminder to both the indigenous population and the Spanish colonials that God had not forgotten any of His children.

As we journey on this Advent season, let us remember that we are called to reflect on the fact that we do not have a God who is foreign to our suffering. In the Incarnation we celebrate that our God, having taken human flesh, entered into our suffering in order to redeem it on the Cross- thereby transforming it into a means of our Salvation. Finally, let us pray for all those who suffer from violence, oppression, rejection, or depression, that they may find comfort in the presence of the God who suffers with them.

Copyright Austin Cruz

Austin Cruz is currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is a leader for Short Course RCIA and has been active in the Pro-Life movement for seven years.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today’s Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

The most authentic witnesses of our faith, including many we remember in Scripture, make the paradoxical seem normal and the normal paradoxical. Take for example our belief that Eve, who disobeyed God with Adam in that original sin, became “the mother of all the living”. The average outside observer would say Eve does not deserve this honor because of her most grievous fault. To make sense of this, we turn to Mary, Mother of Mercy, who recognized divine involvement where others did not. Her faith recapitulates the faithlessness of our first mother, Eve.

As Joseph the dreamer said in Exodus about suffering, sin, and death: “God intended it for good.” In the midst of struggle, though, hope can seem impossible.

Think: What is preventing you from hope these days? What is the source of your anxiety?

It’s easy to forget that God has placed us in our current situations for a very good reason. His workings are “marvelous”, the psalmist reminds us. The epistle to the Ephesians tells us God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing, before the foundation of the world, so we may be holy and without blemish before Him. Thank God! Let today be a day where you ask new and exciting questions, find reasons to smile, thank someone who needs encouragement, make that long-overdue apology, and live in the joy of knowing that God’s fingerprints are all around you.

Luke the Evangelist points out in today’s Good News that Mary was ready when God sent the angel Gabriel. Of course, he came to her in a way she could never have expected. Afraid and not knowing what to do, she modeled the appropriate response when faced with what seemed impossible: she prayed.

How have you reacted lately to unexpected circumstances and when faced with big questions or decisions? What does God tell you in prayer he wants for you at this time? Are you ready to accept his call? Have you encountered God’s purifying grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation recently?

Today, the great Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate God making possible the coming of our savior. By Our Lady’s spotless example we find hope that we may know God’s presence and share His love with others. This life-changing love enters our very selves in the assenting “Amen” at the Eucharist, which signals acceptance of Divine Mercy into our lives in the same way as Mary’s “fiat…yes” at the Annunciation.

Pope Francis, Servus sevorum Dei, presents us with a challenge and a choice this Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins today. When facing those easiest to hate, we either turn inwards for solutions or we open the doors of our hearts to the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Together as a Church we pray today and always: Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy

Copyright Alex Roth

Alex Roth grew up outside of Chicago, spent the past few years teaching elementary school in Brooklyn, NY, and is currently a Master of Divinity student at the University of Notre Dame. He hopes to be a saint by helping Catholic families and grade schools teach children to know, love and serve God and their neighbors. His prayers are with you this Advent season!

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Today’s Gospel: Luke 5: 17-26

“We have seen incredible things today.” After the crowds see Jesus heal the paralytic man and offer forgiveness for sins, they stand astonished, and give glory to God. Seeing God at work in their life, they can only but praise his works.

Our world may not seem as charged with God’s grandeur. We see violence and terror, racism and division. We might not always stop to say “I see God present in this.” Perhaps, we may be a bit more skeptical. But in this season of Advent we are invited to look past the everyday difficulties of our lives. We are invited by the Church to see that incredible things do take place, and they happen today. We have seen the reconciliation of estranged families, or the generous care given to a loved one. We do see the compassionate outreach of total strangers. In this season, we are faced with the realization that these are not temporary oases in a world of pain and suffering, but they are signs of the world to come.

We spend these four weeks preparing for the King to be born to us; but he is born in our midst today. Christ comes to us not only on December 25th, but every day. Today we shall see these incredible things. The Kingdom of Heaven breaks into this world when, amidst the sorrow we may see around us, love conquers hatred. Christ comes into this world today when we dare to act with love. When you and I boldly dare to forgive, heal, and serve we herald in the Kingdom just as John the Baptist. The Child who is promised as the Prince of Peace reigns when we are willing to go out in service of one another. Jesus came into this world in to usher in a new age of love and mercy. Today, we continue this work. Today, we follow Christ in making the Kingdom of Heaven present here and now. If we have the courage to act as Christ did, then, like the crowds Jesus once ministered to, we too shall go out proclaiming, “We have seen incredible things today.”

Copyright Deacon Matthew Hovde, C.S.C.

Deacon Matthew Hovde, C.S.C. is the Assistant Rector of Sorin College at the University of Notre Dame. A finally professed religious of the Congregation of Holy Cross preparing for Ordination to the Priesthood in the Spring, Deacon Matt serves in Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry Team.