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Lighting the Advent wreath: just hit pause

My reflection on the Advent wreath, from the current issue of Give Us This Day:

Lighting the Advent wreath each night for prayers before dinner has long been my family’s tradition. The flickering candlelight growing brighter with each passing week mirrors the interplay of darkness and light we see outside our kitchen window at this time of year. There is something both haunting and comforting about a single flickering candle or two dancing against the velvety darkness. Our brief pause as we light a candle and offer a prayer opens up just enough space in our jam-packed lives to let the beauty of Advent edge its way into our souls. Read more

Entering Advent, sometimes kicking and screaming

If you’ve been a reader of this blog since the early days, you know my family has had some Advent struggles over the years. There was the time we needed to start Advent with a coin toss, and the time I canceled Advent as punishment. Yeah, we like to keep things interesting. But, I have to admit that I get sort of melancholy when I read about those days. Life moves by so quickly, and, before you know it, opening the doors on a calendar just doesn’t hold the same fascination. Enjoy it while you can. Read more

Happy St. Nicholas Day. What’s in your shoes?

The shoes were placed by the front door with care last night. Okay, to be honest, the almost-18-year-old just left them there out of habit, but the two girls were all over it. They still love the Feast of St. Nicholas. Somehow it’s like the unofficial start of the season around this house. Read more

What did Mary know, and when did she know it?

Earlier this week another Catholic blogger decided to do a line-by-line dissection of the popular Christmas song “Mary, Did you Know?” Nothing he said was new to me; I’ve heard it all before from other writers who have harped on the misguided theological aspects of this pop-culture take on Mary and Jesus.

All I can say is this: If we don’t understand that people are moved by songs that make them feel some sort of spiritual stirring (even if the songs are theologically incorrect or not theological at all), then it’s no wonder our pews are empty. People respond first to the tug of the spirit. Then we get to theology. Read more

This Advent, stop the clock and savor the season

Don’t let the frenzy of the season rob you of the chance to wait in wonder this Advent. Here’s my OSV Newsweekly story from last Advent to get you in the spirit:

By Mary DeTurris Poust

By the time Advent officially begins, most of us have been bombarded by so much Christmas music and Christmas advertising and Christmas everything that we’re already sick of the season. In a world where the Christmas countdown begins sometime before Halloween, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty of Advent, and to get so caught up in the material trappings that we can’t see the spiritual forest for the tinsel-covered trees. Read more

It’s always darkest before the dawn

I love Advent and Christmas. Really I do. I wear a Santa hat, light the Advent wreath, deck the halls, and drink eggnog like it’s going out of style, but usually by this point I am in closer to a pit-of-despair feeling than I am to holly jolly.

And every year I forget that I felt the exact same way the year before. I can go back to posts from Advents gone by and see the same sorry attitude. Read more

O Adonai…

As we move through the O Antiphons this week, I thought I’d let Amy Grant do the talking for me, at least for today, with this beautiful song, “El Shaddai.” Read more

The great Christmas stocking debate returns

Okay, here’s the question of the day: Is the Christmas stocking important or irrelevant? This debate rages at our house each Christmas season. For me, the Christmas stocking is key when it comes to under-the-tree goodies. For Dennis, it’s completely unnecessary and incomprehensible. He says he didn’t get a Christmas stocking as a child, which I think might qualify as child abuse in some states. I, on the other hand, continue to get a stocking from my dad and step-mom. Granted, it doesn’t come in an actual stocking anymore; it’s in a Christmas gift bag. But my dad always hands it to me and says, “And here’s your stocking.” Read more

Preparing for a death, not a birth this Advent

I spent the past two days at my grandmother’s bedside, watching her die. We don’t know how long she has — minutes, hours, days, weeks? For anyone who’s been there, you know what I mean when I say it is both horrible and awe-inspiring to experience the dying process up close. When I said goodbye, I knew it was likely the last time I would see my grandmother alive since I don’t live close enough to pop in for regular visits. I whispered, “I love you,” as I hugged her, not expecting a response, but she whispered it right back to me. And so, as sad as it was, I will have that with me forever, that final exchange of love. Read more

Happy St. Nicholas Day. What’s in your shoe?

The shoes were placed by the front door with care last night. Okay, to be honest, the almost-17-year-old just left them there out of habit, but the two girls were all over it. They still love the Feast of St. Nicholas. Somehow it’s like the unofficial start of the season around this house. Read more