Articles for Advent

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

December 25, 2021

    There are many ways that people over the centuries have expressed their deepest spiritual longing. Sometimes we call it a desire for salvation, or redemption or reconciliation; sometimes we describe it as a desire for wholeness, or peace, or union. One of the most recurrent images in all religions and all eras for…

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Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 24, 2021

  King David found himself in an embarrassing situation: he lived in a sumptuous palace and God lived next door in a tent. David wanted to rectify the imbalance and build God a magnificent temple even more beautiful and grand than his own house. But God said “No! Not for now. Leave things as they…

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Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 23, 2021

  John the Baptist’s greatness and the reason he has such an important place in our Advent liturgy is because he prepared the way for Christ. The work of the one who prepares the way for another is finished when the expected one arrives; and John suggested as much when he said of Jesus, “He…

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Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 22, 2021

  Today’s liturgy compares Hannah and Mary. In the birth of their respective sons, the power of God is made manifest, inspiring each to raise her voice in praise of the Almighty. We heard Hannah’s canticle in today’s responsorial hymn and Mary’s Magnificat in the gospel. There are differences between Hannah and Mary: the one…

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Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 21, 2021

  God’s love for the human race was not an abstract, theoretical love. It was very concrete. It took flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. People were able to see and experience God’s love for them in the human person of Jesus Christ. Mary’s love in visiting her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, was also not…

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Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 20, 2021

  The story of Mary’s Annunciation is a high point in the Advent liturgy, as it was a high point in the history of salvation. This is the moment of both Mary’s “Yes” and the savior’s conception. There are two vocations at play in this story: God’s and Mary’s. Before Mary was offered a mission,…

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 19, 2021

    Today in our Gospel, we hear the great story of Our Lady’s Visitation to Elizabeth, when Elizabeth tells Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment…

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Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

December 18, 2021

  Yesterday the Gospel passage from St. Matthew sets the stage for the unfolding of God’s great plan. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.” Today that story…

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Friday of the Third Week of Advent

December 17, 2021

  Today we make the turn towards the Feast of the Birth of the Lord. There are now eight days of preparation that remain. We focus our attention on the mystery of the Incarnation in an even greater way than before. You could say the unfolding of the Incarnation over many centuries. The time when…

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Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

December 16, 2021

  Note: This year Advent is nearly four full weeks (short one day), thus some of the readings this week are often not heard in the days prior to December 17. This is one of them. Today’s passage from Isaiah 54 takes us to the Easter Vigil (it is one of the seven Old Testament…

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Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

December 15, 2021

  In today’s passage from Isaiah, we have these lines: “Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down. Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up!” This text from the prophet is well-known to us as one of the beautiful…

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Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

December 14, 2021

  We are just a few days from the beginning of the final approach to Christmas. Come and save your people … we will soon be singing. What does that “saving action” look like for us now /this year. It takes many forms, shapes, and sizes. But the basic truth is the same forever and…

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Memorial of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr

December 13, 2021

  Quite a few people profess to enjoy the season of Advent – even as a favorite. What is so special about the season of Advent? Many things combine to make it an uplifting time. There is a definite message of hope. A promise of salvation. A promise of deliverance. It is that hope, that…

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Third Sunday of Advent

December 12, 2021

    Our brief season of waiting, of expectation, looking forward is now half over. Today is Gaudete Sunday: REJOICE! Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near. (Phil 4: 4-5). Everything in today’s liturgy is about finding joy in the coming of the Lord. The entrance antiphon, coming…

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Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

December 11, 2021

  It’s the rock stars and the superstars who make the big splash! Just think of the hype, the fireworks, the flashing lights, and the rock music that usher them into the stadiums of our minds! It doesn’t take too much imagination to visualize the Prophet Elijah as the superstar of his day, even complete…

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Friday of the Second Week of Advent

December 10, 2021

  Human nature has not changed much through the generations. Today Jesus is pointing out something about human behavior which every parent or teacher knows so very well. No matter how hard you try to convince someone of your best intentions and the value of what you present, there are always those who are never…

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Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

December 9, 2021

  Sometimes the Bible can spark a vivid image. When I hear today’s readings announcing a world-changing event, I can imagine a stirring drum roll with a soaring fanfare coming from a long line of golden trumpets. The overarching announcement about the Messiah began with the words of Isaiah the Prophet promising a world-changing Redeemer.…

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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

December 8, 2021

  Founded on December 8, 1873, Conception Abbey celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception today as our special patronal feast. Other monasteries are certainly older than we are, but we have our own unique story. This feast day reminds us to reflect on the many possibilities behind the word “chosen.” First of all, our…

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Memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

December 7, 2021

  Imagine you conducted a survey among willing adults and asked only this one question: “what is your basic image of God?” What image of God would predominate? Many factors could shape their answers. Therefore, it’s too simple to say that if a person sees God as a hard, demanding taskmaster, it’s because as a…

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Monday of the Second Week of Advent

December 6, 2021

  The prophets and poets of the Old Testament were master wordsmiths. What could be more beautiful than the Prophet Isaiah describing the desert blooming and rejoicing to greet the Israelites as they returned from exile?          The desert and the parched land will exult;          the steppe will…

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Second Sunday of Advent

December 5, 2021

    Waiting is the hard part. The whole season of Advent has a forward movement as we wait for what Scriptures call the fullness of time. That term is vague enough to leave us wondering what it truly means and yet the word fullness suggests powerful images. Think of the contented smile of a…

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Saturday of the First Week of Advent

December 4, 2021

  As we near the second Sunday of Advent, there is an important question we need to ask ourselves, have we gone out to the lost sheep? In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his apostles to go out to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. These were those who had been lost because of…

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Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, Priest

December 3, 2021

  “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” How many of us, if we heard this, would get nervous? I would. Do I really have faith? Is it at least as big as a mustard seed? Yesterday we said we must live by faith. How do we do that? If we take…

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Thursday of the First Week of Advent

December 2, 2021

  Where do we place our trust? Think for a moment when deciding where do you put the majority of your trust? Do you trust yourself the most? Or is it a spouse? Maybe a trusted friend? Is it a movement? Or perhaps, no one? Do you have trust in anything? Trust, or faith, is…

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Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

December 1, 2021

  For ages, the people of Israel waited to see the coming of the messiah. This messiah was to lead Israel to freedom, to lead all the nations to the Temple to worship, and he was to bring healing to those who suffer. In Jesus is that messiah. He has indeed come and set people…

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Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle

November 30, 2021

  The apostles were called by Christ to be men of passion and commitment. They were to be Christ’s very representatives on earth. They were to be Christ coming into the nations; this is what the word apostle means—to be another Christ! In St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, we hear words of encouragement to…

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Monday of the First Week of Advent

November 29, 2021

  Israel, founded on God’s promise to Abraham, was given the same promises as Abraham. Namely, they would be a great nation, that Abraham would receive a great name, and they would become a great blessing to all the nations. This third promise is critical. Israel’s vocation was to be in such an intimate relationship…

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First Sunday of Advent

November 28, 2021

  Advent is a time of hopeful waiting. Waiting for Christ to come to us as the child in the manger. Waiting for Christ to come as the healer, consoler, friend, and Lord. Advent is a time of waiting for promises to be kept. In the opening lines of today’s first reading, we hear, “The…

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Thursday in the Fourth Week of Advent

December 24, 2020

  Several years ago the Ministerial Alliance’s clothing and food pantry in Stanberry, Missouri was getting vandalized in the back alley. One of the ministers suggested putting up cameras. Considering our modest budget, I recommended installing motion-activated lights instead. Sure enough, once the new lights were installed, the shenanigans stopped. Today is the last of…

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Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 23, 2020

  People have trouble with my religious name. Shocking, I know… Frequently when I meet someone new, he will ask what my name means. I understand it is exotic; still, I did not take my name for its definition but for the patron saint. At the time I proposed it to the abbot, I had…

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Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 22, 2020

  The Greeks had a goddess named Nemesis. She was the god of retribution – specifically pouring out wrath for human hubris against the gods. Nemesis has many attributes to describe how she works: scales to weigh deeds against punishment, a scourge to chastise, and a bridle to rein in the self-exalted. She is the…

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Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 21, 2020

  When I was recently at my home parish, the priest asked me if I could recommend a book explaining some basic Catholic art because he feared people did not understand what was in the church. Unfortunately today we have access to much information yet are illiterate when it comes to Christian symbols. A consequence…

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 20, 2020

  I know these days during the pandemic, many of us are tired of being in our houses. Yet this reality of sheltering in a safe place speaks to the power of the personal domicile. A house, a home, is a powerful thing. Even if you are a world traveler and revel in seeing new…

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Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

December 19, 2020

  Not many people in our society really give a second thought about a married couple, even one advanced in years, who are without children. But, during Elizabeth’s time, her experience of barrenness was a disgrace before others. She shouldered a great personal burden characteristic of all women who desire to have a child, but…

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Friday of the Third Week of Advent

December 18, 2020

  Joseph receives God’s message from the angel in a dream. The Lord’s promise to Ahaz will be fulfilled through the Virgin Mary: “The Virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.” About seven hundred years after Isaiah’s prophecy, God’s salvation is brought forth in the person of Jesus Christ.…

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Thursday of the Third Week in Advent

December 17, 2020

  Some priests are scared about having to proclaim the varied and difficult names that appear in the genealogy Gospel. Though there has been a resurgence in family lineage in recent years, most people today do not find Matthew’s introduction all that captivating. While the text isn’t in the style of a narrative that we…

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Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

December 16, 2020

  The Prophet Isaiah emphasizes the greatness of the Lord God and the foolishness of placing our trust in any other gods— “I am the LORD, there is no other.” Throughout salvation history, God performed powerful signs and wonders and saved His people, yet they turned from Him again and again. God’s presence is readily…

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Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

December 15, 2020

  When I was in high school, my Mom would leave us a short to-do list, with some simple chores to do while she was away running errands. It was nothing complicated, but just some basic tasks with which my brothers and I agreed to help out. I remember how we would put it off,…

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Memorial of St John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church

December 14, 2020

  God surely couldn’t work through me, could He? Many of us have uttered, or at least thought of, some version of the statement above. It’s an admission of how we feel inadequate, insignificant, and altogether fallible. Two things can be true at the same time: We can readily acknowledge our human weakness, and God…

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Third Sunday of Advent

December 13, 2020

    Recently someone who was mourning the loss of a loved one came to me and asked: “Father, several months have gone by and I am still grieving and hurting—is this revealing that my faith is weak and that I’m not entrusting my loved one to God?” Our liturgy for the Third Sunday of…

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