An Ecological and Spiritual Advent Calendar

25 November 2022 (ANS – Rome) – To prepare ourselves for Christmas, the Youth Ministry sector at headquarters is proposing an Ecological and Spiritual Advent Calendar for everyone: four weeks of reflection and action on four themes that will lead us to live a more authentic Christmas, in harmony with ourselves, with others, with the Creation and with God. The proposed themes are: 1.           Let us contemplate and care for our Common Home 2.           Let us seek inner peace 3.           We nurture relationships with others 4.           To live a truly ecological and sustainable Christmas The Gospel and the proposal of a concrete commitment will accompany us every day. The calendar is available in: ITALIAN, ENGLISH, SPANISH, FRENCH, PORTUGUESE AND POLISH, and can be downloaded here. For any information, please contact the person responsible for Integral Ecology, Emanuela...

The Hope and Despair at Christmastime

DECEMBER 20, 2021 from Catholic Exchange DR. DONALD DEMARCO We can all agree that 2021 has been a most difficult year. Some have succumbed to despair, while others are still searching for hope. We experience the tension between the weight of gravity and the lightness of grace. Saint John Paul II was well aware of this tension. “Do not abandon yourself to despair,” he implored us, “We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song” (Angelus, November 30, 1986). This “song” is appropriate not only for Christmas, but for every day in the liturgical calendar. At the same time, the former pontiff emphasized the critical importance of hope: “I plead with you, never, ever, give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid” (In My Own Words). Hope and despair are opposite poles. Therefore, they differ as day and night, being and nothingness. Despair is not a virtue. It is a concession. It is a moment when a person gives up, calls it quits, surrenders to the dark night of oblivion. No resources are required in order to despair. In fact, despair is the rejection of the resources that are still available...

The Word Was Made Flesh: An Advent Reflection on the Incarnation

DECEMBER 20, 2021 from Catholic Exchange FR. JOHN S. HOGAN Editor’s note: The following is a homily from the Fourth Week in Advent, 2008. It was given at St. Peter’s Church, National Shrine of St. Oliver Plunkett, in Drogheda, Ireland. You can find it and other homilies in the book Advent Reflections, which is edited by Brandon McGinley and published through Sophia Institute Press. Loreto is a small medieval city, perched atop a small moun­tain overlooking the Adriatic Sea on the east coast of Italy. If you look up from the plains below, you see a great wall reminiscent of a fortress, a forbidding citadel; in reality, it is a spiritual doorway, a place of meeting. Within the walls is a great basilica and, beneath the dome of the basilica, a marble chapel within which is an ancient house, simple in its construction but resonant with history. This is the house of Nazareth where the Annunciation took place, where it is believed the Holy Family lived and St. Joseph died — the Holy House that was and is a witness to the mystery of the Incarnation. Loreto is a place where it is easy to pray. The ancient stones of the Holy House seem to...

CATHOLIC EXCHANGE: Gaudete Sunday Calls Us to Rejoice

Original article: CatholicExchange.com   GAYLE SOMERS “Rose” Sunday in Advent calls us to rejoice, even in a penitential season. Will our readings show us how? Gospel (Read Lk 3:10-18) Traditionally, Catholics observe the third Sunday of Advent as “rose” Sunday, or “Gaudete” Sunday, which is Latin for “rejoice.” This is a beautiful reminder that although our preparation for the coming of the Lord has directed our attention inward, calling us to be ready to face our sin in an active way, the reason for this self-examination is one that should bring us boundless joy. Our Gospel reading helps us begin to see this. St. Luke tells us that John the Baptist’s preaching aroused a response in the crowds who came to hear him.  They understood he was calling them to a decision about how they lived their lives with God:  “What should we do?”  This is the same exact question that the crowds who heard St. Peter first preach the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost asked, too (see Acts 2:37).  John had a ready answer for them, and it is not, perhaps, the answer they might have expected.  He did not tell them to pray more, give more alms, or spend more...