Sunday, November 29, 2020

1st Sunday of Advent


Advent begins quietly, with the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath. As the days grow shorter in the northern hemisphere, we move to a place of increasing light both indoors and in our hearts. Instead of adding more things to do and and more challenges to meet in an already busy time, Advent calls us to rest, to step back, to learn to appreciate the small events and simple gifts that flow through our days.

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent 
by Diane M. Houdek

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Thoughts on waiting


The Attitude of Waiting
When Jesus speaks about the end of time, he speaks precisely about the importance of waiting. He says that nations will fight against nations and that there will be wars and earthquakes and misery. People will be in agony, and they will say, “The Christ is there! No, he is here!” Many will be confused and many will be deceived. But Jesus says, you must stand ready, stand awake, stay tuned to the word of God, so that you will survive all that is going to happen and be able to stand confidently (con-fide, with trust) in the presence of God together in community (see Matthew 24). That is the attitude of waiting that allows us to be people who can live in a very chaotic world and survive spiritually.

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, November 26, 2020

More thoughts on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving: For and In

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Psalm 95:1-2 
In America, today is Thanksgiving Day. Its roots go back to 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the New World. But it was not until 1863 that it became an official U.S. observance at the instigation of President Abraham Lincoln. 

Recommended Reading:
Psalm 100: 1 – 5

In the most general terms, the way to give thanks was expanded from the Old Testament to the New. In the Old Testament, God was normally thanked “for” things—His works, attributes, and blessings (Psalm 106:1). While that focus is maintained in the New Testament, it is expanded to giving thanks “in” all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That is, in all circumstances. We can do that because we know God causes “all things” to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Why not do both today? Give thanks to God for His blessings and give thanks for whatever circumstances you are experiencing. Fill this day with thanksgiving to God.

Dr. David Jeremiah

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thy unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving kindness to us, and to all men. 
Book of Common Prayer

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Thoughts on Thanksgiving


Fill Your Days with Thanksgiving

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Thanksgiving is fully living into our givenness—it is the acceptance that our life is a miracle. To be thankful is to take pleasure in our existence and in the things that make that existence possible. “In this pleasure,” writes Wendell Berry, “we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.” Berry is here speaking particularly of the pleasure that comes in our eating and its attendant thanksgiving, but he is also necessarily speaking of the pleasure of membership. Our lives are indebted to other lives and dependent upon them. Through this gratitude and proper understanding of indebtedness, we are able to gain the freedom to become more generous ourselves. When we come to truly understand our givenness, which is also our indebtedness and embeddedness in the whole of the creation, then our response must be to give as we have been given. All pretenses that attend the accomplishments of our own work, all illusions of making value or owning something, is but a debt unaccounted, a gift accepted without thanks. Our first and most profound response should be to fill our days with thanksgiving. It is in that practice that we will finally begin to recover who we are and what we should be about in this world, this creation, this gift.

—from the book Wendell Berry and the Given Life by Ragan Sutterfield

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Thoughts on the Blessed Virgin Mary


Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Painting titled Presentation of Mary in the Temple, by Alfonso Boschi
Image: Presentation of Mary in the Temple | Alfonso Boschi | photo by sailko

Saint of the Day for November 21

Click here to listen

The Story of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.

As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was 3 years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.

Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.


It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God’s saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her children. They—we—too are temples of God and sanctified in order that we might enjoy and share in God’s saving work.

Click here for more on Mary!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Thoughts on prayer


Why Pray?
Why should I spend an hour in prayer when I do nothing during that time but think about people I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read, and books I should write, and thousands of other silly things that happen to grab my mind for a moment?
The answer is: because God is greater than my mind and my heart and what is really happening in the house of prayer is not measurable in terms of human success and failure.

What I must do first of all is to be faithful. If I believe that the first commandment is to love God with my whole heart, mind, and soul, then I should at least be able to spend one hour a day with nobody else but God. The question as to whether it is helpful, useful, practical, or fruitful is completely irrelevant, since the only reason to love is love itself. Everything else is secondary.

The remarkable thing, however, is that sitting in the presence of God for one hour each morning—day after day, week after week, month after month—in total confusion and with myriad distractions radically changes my life. God, who loves me so much that he sent his only son not to condemn me but to save me, does not leave me waiting in the dark too long. I might think that each hour is useless, but after thirty or sixty or ninety such useless hours, I gradually realize that I was not as alone as I thought; a very small, gentle voice has been speaking to me far beyond my noisy place.

So, be confident and trust in the Lord.

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Thoughts on friendship


Be Bold in Your Friendship with God

Be Bold in Your Friendship with God | Photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash

Prayer is about love, not insight. It is meant to establish friendship. Friendship, as we know, is not as much a question of having insight into each other’s lives as it is of mutually touching each other in affection and understanding. Friendship, as John of the Cross puts it, is a question of attaining “boldness with each other.” When we have touched each other’s lives deeply, we can be bold with each other. We can then ask each other for help, ask each other to be present without needing an excuse, or share our deepest feelings. Good friendship inspires boldness. The object of prayer is precisely to try to attain this kind of “boldness” with God, to try to reach a point where we are comfortable enough with God to ask for help, just as we would a trusted friend. But to reach this kind of trust we first must let God touch us in the heart, and not just in insight.

 —from the book Prayer: Our Deepest Longing
by Ronald Rolheiser

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

More thoughts on prayer


Prayer Ebbs and Flows

Photo by Lenart Lipovšek on Unsplash

Prayer has a huge ebb and flow. When we try to pray, sometimes we walk on water and sometimes we sink like a stone. Sometimes we have a deep sense of God’s reality and sometimes we can’t even imagine that God exists. Sometimes we have deep feelings about God’s goodness and love, and sometimes we feel only boredom and distraction. Sometimes our eyes fill with tears and we wish we could stay in our prayer-place forever, and sometimes our eyes wander furtively to our wristwatches to see how much time we still need to spend in prayer.

 —from the book Prayer: Our Deepest Longing
by Ronald Rolheiser

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Thoughts on St. Martin of Tours


Where the Lord Calls

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

“I propose to go wherever the Lord calls me.” (St. Martin of Tours)

Martin’s choices in life had been limited. His parents were pagans, and his father was a Roman army officer, so of course that was the plan the family insisted he pursue. Martin had begun studying to become a Catholic but had not yet been baptized when he saw a shivering beggar. Martin ran his sword through his cloak, and gave the beggar half. A mystical experience resulted, hastening Martin’s conversion. He was imprisoned for his refusal to fight; after his release, he eventually made his way to Hilary of Poitiers, who ordained him and provided him with land for a hermitage.

Martin continued to live as a monk throughout his twenty-five years as bishop of Tours. He is believed to be the first non-martyr the Church considers to be a saint. Becoming a Christian freed Martin from a need to live up to the expectations of his parents or his military commanders. His story reminds us that even if people have financial control over us, it is God, not them, who we serve and who we must put first. Today invite God to help you make the decision with which you’ve been wrestling.

—from the book Brotherhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration,
by Melanie Rigney

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Thoughts on gratefulness

Gratefulness brings joy to my life. How could I find joy in what I take for granted? So I stop “taking for granted,” and there is no end to the surprises I find. A grateful attitude is a creative one, because, in the final analysis, opportunity is the gift within the gift of every given moment. Mostly this means opportunities to see and hear and smell and touch and taste with pleasure. But once I am in the habit of availing myself of opportunities, I will do so even in unpleasant situations creatively.

—from the book Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace
by Joseph Grant

Friday, November 6, 2020

Thoughts on wisdom and death


Wisdom and Death

A comedian once commented, "I'm not afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens." Natural disasters and the covid pandemic have brought our mortality, our inescapable future death, more into our focus and attention. In Sunday's Gospel Jesus teaches us with the story of the wise and foolish virgins who are waiting to welcome the bridegroom to his wedding party. The wise women brought extra oil for their lamps in case the bridegroom was delayed which he was and they were ready to greet him with lamps shining brightly.

I used to be vaguely afraid of dying. After all, it's a huge unknown and you probably won't know when it's going to happen. Over the years I came to realize that I wasn't afraid of death, I was afraid of God, of being seen and judged by Him. His gift of faith-filled wisdom taught me that I am God's beloved child and He constantly looks on me with infinite compassion and love and wants more for me than I could ever hope for or imagine. I am a sinner and will die a sinner but God forgives and forgets them all.

One of Ignatius' favorite prayers was the Soul of Christ. It ends with "In the hour of my death, call me. And bid me come to Thee, that with Thy saints I may praise Thee forever and ever. Amen." Now I prayerfully imagine my death as Jesus appearing to me and saying "Come on, Ralph, let's go home."

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Thoughts on All Souls Day

Today, we commemorate All Souls Day, which is a wonderful opportunity to pray for all those who have gone before us.

Also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, on this day we honor them for their fidelity in life, as well as pray for them, since they are being purified before entering the All Holy Presence of God. 


We encourage you to spend today, at least in part, in prayer for the souls of our loved ones, as well as those who have no one who will pray for them.


Thanks to your prayers and support, millions of people learn and appreciate the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.


You can learn more about All Souls Day and get a free resource to pray for the Souls in Purgatory here:

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Thoughts on Saints


Saintly Counselors
In the past, the saints had very much moved to the background of my consciousness. During the last few months, they re-entered my awareness as powerful guides on the way to God.

I read the lives of many saints and great spiritual men and women, and it seems that they have become real members of my spiritual family, always present to offer suggestions, ideas, advice, consolation, courage, and strength. It is very hard to keep your heart and mind directed toward God when there are no examples to help you in your struggle. Without saints you easily settle for less-inspiring people and quickly follow the ways of others who for a while seem exciting but who are not able to offer lasting support. I am happy to have been able to restore my relationship with many great saintly men and women in history who, by their lives and works, can be real counselors to me.

Henri Nouwen