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14

Hear the Herald's Voice Resounding

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Hear the Herald's Voice Resounding
“John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ …. The one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals.” (Mt 3:1-2, 11b)Hear the Herald's Voice ResoundingThe Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent (Year A) gives us the mighty figure of John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Lord, a “voice crying out in the desert” to prepare the way for the L...
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14

Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer

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Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer
“Therefore, stay awake!For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Mt 24:4)Wake, O Wake and Sleep No LongerThe Advent hymn that most closely matches Sunday's Gospel (Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer) was not written as an Advent hymn at all. In fact, the hymn (both text and melody) was composed by a Lutheran pastor named Philipp Nicolai during a tragic epidemic in his parish in Westphalia, Germany in 1598. Seeking comfort for himself as much as for his flock, the past...
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14

The Sounds of Advent

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The Sounds of Advent
During the four weeks of Advent, Sister Anne Flanagan of the Daughters of St. Paul choir will share some of the background of favorite Advent hymns.O Come, O Come Emmanuel!Advent begins this Sunday, and that means a very good chance of singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel  this weekend.The words of this best-known of Advent hymns are based on a series of short texts from Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours (“Breviary”) for the week before Christmas. The texts (antiphons) call...
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Put Jesus First: Advent with Your Kids
You know what it’s like: by November, the commercial anticipation of Christmas is in full swing, and your kids are probably already thinking about Christmas morning and Christmas stockings and glittering presents under the Christmas tree. But how do you get them to slow down?As adults, we know Advent as a season of anticipation, a time of waiting (something that, truth be told, none of us are really very good at!). That’s not an easy or welcome concept to get across to children.But t...
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09

Put Jesus First: Advent & Prayer

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Put Jesus First: Advent & Prayer
Advent is about looking toward the light in so many ways. The sun’s light starts to grow stronger and longer at the winter solstice, as our hearts warm, too, to the coming of the light of Christ into our lives at Christmas. “The people who walked in darkness,” we are reminded, “have seen a great light.”We celebrate that light through our Sunday liturgies in Advent, and through our daily prayer. From the Advent Conspiracy: It starts with Jesus. It...
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07

No Matter What Happens

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No Matter What Happens
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”(from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll)Right now, it seems impossible to believe that things will ever be...
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Put Jesus First This Year: A Free Guide for Planning for Advent and Christmas
It’s the beginning of November and already stores are displaying Christmas merchandise and playing tinny-sounding Christmas carols until you want to scream. It’s annoying at best—and, for those of us who are Christians, it verges on the sacrilegious. What happened to Advent, to a period of sober preparation for the coming of the Messiah? Why does Christmas have to be identified with the materialism that Jesus taught us to eschew?We’re not going to escape the consumption t...
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26

Spiritual Gifts: An Autumn Reflection

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Spiritual Gifts: An Autumn Reflection
It was approximately 10:40 in the morning when I pulled out in a steady, driving rain to make my way over to Billerica, Massachusetts, to help sing for the Sunday liturgy at St. Thecla's Retreat House. I was grateful for the downpour, as it would ease the effects of the drought we’d been experiencing, but as I turned onto Route 128 a white haze enveloped me, muting the colors of the fall foliage along my route.“Hmm,” I thought, “I can still see the bright yellows and ...
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17

Catholic Answers to a Cry for Help

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Catholic Answers to a Cry for Help
Far in the back row, against the wall, was a hand hesitantly lifted for a question. I invited her to respond. “Doesn’t forgiving someone over and over again,” asked the woman in a subdued voice, “invite them to keep hurting us?” She had been a regular attendee during a parish program on forgiveness I had been leading, but had never spoken until then. Tonight, however, we had been discussing Jesus’ teaching that we should forgive those who offend us seventy tim...
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Good King Wenceslas: The Real Story
When you think of Good King Wenceslas, you probably think of the song we sing at Christmas. Here are some amazing things about the real Saint Wenceslas: Wenceslas’ grandfather, Borivoj I of Bohemia, was converted by Saints Cyril and Methodius, who began the Christianization of Bohemia during Borivoj's reign. His grandmother Ludmila of Bohemia is also a Czech saint and martyr. She was canonized shortly after her death. Her feast is September 16. Wenceslas' father died when...
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