An Epiphany – Thoughts for the new year

Today January 8 the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The traditional date in the Church is January 6, but like so many other Feast Days it has been moved to Sunday. It’s a beautiful text in scripture; the Magi or Wise Men, are called by King Herod to find the child that has been prophesied as a new king, a ruler of the nations. They follow a star, using their scientific knowledge to navigate their course to Jesus in Bethlehem. They bring the gifts of homage; gold, frankincense and myrrh.

We all know the story, the wise noble men, seeking someone wiser than themselves. We have heard various reflections on the meanings of the gifts they bring. We have been asked to consider the symbolism of offering our own gifts to God as we come to learn what they are and grow in our capacity and confidence to offer them in the world.

As I was thinking about what I might write for today’s blog, a multitude of things came to mind. I wondered about the trust that the wise men had to have, in themselves, to follow their knowledge and insights in seeking this unknown place and child king they were searching for. I wondered whether I would have turned around and headed back home when the star didn’t shine as bright or as clear, when the journey was difficult.

I also thought about each day we wake up and try to offer our best in the world. As I sat at my desk I glanced at a journal I didn’t mention last week. I frankly forgot about it when I was writing and sharing some of the journals I use or how I use them. It’s a 5 year Memory Book by Natural Life. Each day there is a space to jot down activities or thoughts for the day. Now that I have started my second year, it’s interesting to reflect on that date, in 2022, and what happened. The title, or thought, on the cover is “Each Day is a Gift”.

On Monday, I listened to a YouTube video by Monique Jacobs, a spiritual director/vlogger I subscribe to. In her video Monique talks about the value of an annual Examen, a practice of looking at our day, or year in Monique’s example, in review. Monique offers the idea of looking at each month of the past year, identifying a peek experience, and remembering myself in each of those experiences, what happened and how I responded. Then she asked that I look at myself as God sees me, to see myself with the loving gaze of God.

As I saw the title of my memory book and reflected on Monique’s video in light of the feast of Epiphany, I wondered, what it would be like if I looked at each day in this year of 2023 as a gift that I then turn and offer back to God?

There is a common prayer practice called the Morning Offering. It’s a prayer said at the beginning of each day in which I offer my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of the day to God. It’s a lovely prayer. I try to say it each day and have even tweaked it a bit to include prayers for peace between Ukraine and Russia, and to include the intentions of my family and friends. I also like to do an evening Examen, to look for the graces of the day and to be thankful. It’s also a chance to view the day for those moments of opportunity to improve and grow closer to God. But what would it feel like, at the end of each day, as I review or conduct an Examen of the day, to offer it back to God as a gift?

As I kneel before Jesus, as King and Lord of my life, I can’t imagine feeling content with the gifts I offer, with the tattered gifts of impatience, anger, self-centeredness or self-indulgence. I can’t imagine…unless I see the loving gaze of God looking upon me, as Monique suggested in her video. Nothing that I can do or present is worthy, when viewed in my eyes. But God’s gaze of unconditional love and compassion is different than my gaze.

All of these stories in scripture remain stories or narratives of a time 2000+ years ago, unless we hear them with the desire that God has for us to be in relationship. The Saints of the Church knew this, the desire to offer what they were to God was stronger than the urge to withdraw because their gifts felt inadequate. Catherine of Siena, 14th century Dominican mystic and woman Doctor of the Church, said in her Dialogue (60) “Love transforms one into what one loves.

May our prayer and desire each day, as we offer the gift of the day back to God, be that we are transformed by that gaze of Love.

Peace, Deena

Image from a visit to Our Lady of Angels Chapel


Planning a New Year – Happy 2023!

Let me begin today’s blog by wishing you a happy, healthy and inspired new year!

I have to admit I love New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I don’t go out and celebrate, and most years I rarely make it to the strike of midnight awake. The revelry of the neighborhood, and the return of the local cement mill whistle, usually wake me. I quickly and quietly greet in the new year. It is actually all the preparation, goal setting and planning, as well as the beginning of the fresh start in the new year, that are so exciting to me!

I am a self-professed planner addict. I have started planning in two and am waiting for 3 others to arrive. Each have their own purpose. The two I have started so far are for work. The ones I hoped would have arrived already are for journaling ideas and notes (separate than my daily journal books), planning goals, and tracking progress. I have also ordered a 2023 liturgical planner that I use for work planning and personal reflection on daily scripture. I’ll add some notes at the bottom of the blog in case you are interested in some that I use. They have varied over the years depending on the planning I am doing and things I hope to accomplish.

In all that planning, I don’t set New Year’s resolutions. That feels different to me – I will lose weight, I will walk every day, I will… I don’t set them because I would have to be honest and admit that I would be in the majority of the population that set the resolution and then forego it by the end of January, or mid February if I am lucky. If anything, I resolve to try to be more authentically myself and a live a life I can be pleased with when I reflect back at the end of the year. I like the process of setting intentions – things I want to be more aware of in life, or qualities to bring more of into my life like patience or gratitude, and to reflect on ways I can grow deeper in my faith life.

There is something about the writing of those intentions and reflections as the year progresses, jotting down new insights I have, or writing about a poem or a scripture reflection that moved me, that help me move through the year with more awareness regarding the intentions that I set at the beginning of a year.

Each year I read (it’s small and a quick read) Notes from a Friend by Anthony Robbins. I bought it when I had my business in 1996 and barely had the $7.95 for the book. (New cover and new price on Amazon.) The point is to be clear about what you want, see the details and write it down with no limits on possibility.

One of my favorite, more recent, rituals is to attend a retreat by my friend and author, Judith Valente, Writing the Prologue to Your New Year. This will be my third year. I was pleasantly surprised to open and read in 2022 what I wrote in 2021. Next Sunday I will open what I wrote in January 2022 when reflecting on the course that the year might take. Writing it and putting it away is a different than the Tony Robbins approach of reviewing it every day. Both clearly set the intention.

Some of my reflection for new year 2023 has been focused on the things that have become priorities, perhaps undesirable priorities, in my life. Early in Advent, his First Week of Advent YouTube homily, Bishop Robert Barron asked us to contemplate the mountains we worship, mountains such as status, money, acquisitions, etc. Things that have highest value in our lives, things we order our lives around and worship more than God. I have been chewing on it ever since I listened to it in early December and listen to it over and over. The other day I saw a Facebook post that really touched me, from Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri, contemplating the presentation of infant Jesus in the temple to Simeon and his prayer of joy having seen the fulfillment of the coming of the Messiah. Fr Petsche asked us if we can name the person we long for on a daily basis. I wondered if in addition to who, I might add what do I long for each and every day?

As I contemplate the answers to those questions, and set a course for what I would like those to be in this new year 2023, I have to reflect honestly on what is most important to me, what is at the center of everything I do? I know what I would like the answer to be, but can I honestly report that most days I live it? Of course I have financial goals and personal growth goals. I want new furniture like the next person and I fretted day after day until I found the right car last month. It’s ok, and normal, to want all those things. But if I had an importance meter when making decisions or expending energy before making the decision, how important are they?

A favorite scripture passage is in this year’s Gospel for today, January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, found in the second chapter of Luke. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Reflecting on daily life, on the things that inspire or challenge us, is good for us. Things don’t always make sense in the moment but writing as we move through the year, reflecting on the things we want, then looking back on how life has unfolded can help us put things in perspective. It can help reveal God’s hand, and gentle nudges, in life.

One of the responsibilities that I have as part of my job with Ignatian Ministries is to post the weekly blog. As a result I have had the chance to read and begin contemplating the blog written by Vinita Hampton Wright. Our first series will be on the topic of Setting Up our Year in Christ. Vinita kicks us off remarkably! It’s actually because of Vinita and her posts for Loyola Press and the dotMagis blog on IgnatianSpirituality.com that I read and started following Becky Eldredge books and retreats, then ultimately starting working for Ignatian Ministries last year (but that’s a wonderful story for another day!). You won’t see Vinita’s post until Sunday night but it is worth checking out, it’s so good! Visit and bookmark Into The Deep on BeckyEldredge/Ignatian Ministries.

Another process for looking at the new year with eyes of faith that I would recommend is by the founder of our ministry and her husband, Becky and Chris. They have created a 4-week program, Living with Christ: An Ignatian Discernment Process for Intentional Living. For 20 years Becky and Chris have used this annual process in their lives and then in 2021 began offering it to others. They have been reviewing and working on the information and will offer four Zoom sessions on Thursdays, 12 – 1:30 CST, from January 26 – February 16.

Regardless of what your process is, short and quick or more complicated, spend a few minutes as we begin 2023 thinking about the qualities you would like to see more of in your life. Decide whether your faith life could use some sprucing up this year and what you would like to do about it. If you make resolutions and keep them, awesome and congratulations on beginning a new one. If not, what would you like to resolve to be more of this year, BE not DO. I’d love to hear from you and what that might be.

As we begin our journey through 2023 together, I wish you much happiness and joy!

Peace, Deena

Journal Suggestions:

Manifest Your Best Every Day by Kat Gottlieb

Monthly Planner by Cultivate What Matters. Not the Planner Sheets. I have used those in the past but didn’t really use them as designed)

Word and Worship Desk Calendar – Liturgical Planner by Paulist Press

Erin Condren Softbound Notebooks – favorites for journaling. I used the LifePlanner Collection for a few years but decided my other options work better for me. But they are pretty and well-designed.

My daily/weekly favorite format for work and appointments – the last couple of years has been Blue Sky

Image created in PicMonkey


Christmas 2022

On Christmas Eve we heard the Gospel of Luke in which Zechariah is able to speak again after proclaiming his son’s name as John. He recites a prayer, blessing God for sending the Messiah and states that his own son will be a prophet to the Most High. This prayer, the Benedictus, is recited daily in the Church as part of morning prayer. The verse at the end is my favorite and gives me hope every day.

“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1: 67-79

Christmas Day the dawn breaks upon us. The Light comes to us.

All of the Christmas Masses from Vigil on Christmas Eve, Christmas Mass During the Night, Mass at Dawn tell us the story of Jesus’ genealogy, his birth, the visiting shepherds, the angels singing “Glory to God in the highest and peace to those on earth on whom his favor rests” and then culminates with Mass During the Day with John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This gospel reminds us that those who came before testified to the Light, the true Light, which enlightens everyone, the Light that came into the world for us. To be with us, to show us the way.

This Light does shine for us. Perhaps some days we see it more clearly than others. But it can guide our life to be one of peace, an inner peace that helps us deal with the chaos in the world around us.

My hope and prayer for each of us on this Christmas Day is that the Light shines bright in our hearts and in our lives so that we can bring that peace and hope to those we encounter. May it shine bright not just on Christmas Day but each and every day until we become one with the Light.

I extend wishes for a happy and holy Christmas Day and Christmas Season.

Peace, Deena

Image from a Nativity Scene at my church, Holy Family Church in Oglesby, a few years ago.


Advent – December 18, 2022

The Fourth Week of Advent. Here we are. Typically I arrive at this point wishing I had taken more time to slow down, more time to pray or read spiritual writing, and taken more time to savor the coming of Christmas. I absolutely see missed opportunities in the past three weeks but this year feels a little different. My weekly prayer group, assisting on an Advent prayer guide at work and facilitating two Advent small groups has helped. Perhaps the more we immerse ourselves in something that we desire, the easier it is to attain the desired goal.

This weekend I was reminded of something that a parish priest, Fr. Tony, said to me when we were meeting to discuss my involvement in activities at the parish over 25 years ago. The priest assigned and then reassigned after one year, right before Fr. Tony, was the first one to reach out and ask me to get involved. He not only asked me to get involved, he gave me the task of writing a weekly prayer guide for Advent, with a prayer and reflection for each day. I had never written anything like that before! They turned out pretty good and I found the task of writing each week to be quite enjoyable. I wrote one for Lent as well. Then he was reassigned and Fr. Tony came to Holy Family. I shared some of my experiences of living in Michigan (parish life, women’s groups, studying at an ashram…), interests and ideas I had for Holy Family. He either thought I was from another planet but was desperate for the assistance or he saw potential. I chose to believe the latter.

The conversation I was reminded of this weekend was “I’m open to trying different things here at Holy Family…but before that I would like you to go to the deep, dark incense-filled corners of the church and experience the beauty of the rituals and traditions of the church.” That began a journey that has led me to a deepening of my faith life, an ever-growing appetite for learning about the Church and our spiritual mothers and fathers, and some of most amazing spiritual experiences. Not too long after that I considered religious life, but discerned I wasn’t cut out for community life. I compared and visited different communities to learn about their “associate” programs ultimately leading me to the Sisters of St. Benedict at St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, IL (initially Nauvoo IL). After three years of formation and study, I became an Oblate. Again, the more we immerse ourselves in something, the more likely we will achieve the desired goal.

One of the rich traditions of the Church begins each year on the evening of December 17 with the recitation of the first of the O Antiphons, “Come O Wisdom”. The seven days of reciting the O Antiphons are absolutely my favorite week of Advent. Each of the seven antiphons (Wisdom, Lord, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of the Nations and Emmanuel, God with us) have been sung (or recited) as part of evening prayer, with the Magnificat, since as early as the eighth century. The antiphons use images from the Bible that remind us of Old Testament prophecies of the coming of Jesus Christ.

My mother was hospitalized in early December many years ago after a fall that required spinal surgery. I visited the large chapel at St. Francis Hospital in Peoria every evening to pray before leaving her and beginning the hour or so drive home. The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, the hospital sisters, came to the chapel during Advent and prayed each evening. Seeing me there a few evenings, they invited me to pray with them. Hearing them sing the O Antiphons each night, the final week before Christmas, was a profound experience. I will treasure it and the time with the sisters forever.

I saw a delightful version of O Wisdom, shared by the International Society of Hildegard von Bingen Studies on Facebook written by St. Hildegard. St Hildegard, a favorite saint, was a Benedictine Abbess in the twelfth century. She studied herbs and oils and wrote about medicine, composed chants and sacred music, created amazing art, wrote poetry and was a mystic. She wrote “O Wisdom…hip, hip, hooray! From earthen clay have all God’s splendid wonders sprung, that the new Sun might come forth, the new Light shine, the new Song sound in us!” (oi, oi! De limo Terre in Latin)

There is still a full fourth week of Advent available to us this year. Next year it will only be one day long. Sunday will be the Fourth Sunday of Advent but also Christmas Eve, so we will lose a week of Advent. Treasure the full week this year. And what an amazing week it is! We began on Saturday hearing the genealogy of Jesus, then for the Fourth Sunday of Advent reflect on Joseph’s dream and decision to trust the message and protect his little family. On Monday we listen to the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Zechariah’s visit by Angel Gabriel and his disbelief when Gabriel tells him aging Elizabeth will bear a son, John. We hear the Annunciation and Visitation stories, my favorites, scripture passages of Mary and Elizabeth. We experience the prayers, first declared by Zechariah and Mary, that are now prayed each and every day, the Benedictus and the Magnificat, in the Liturgy of the Hours, at Morning and Evening Prayer respectively.

How might some of these remaining days of Advent help you prepare for Christmas? How can we experience the joy that would leave us singing a “new Song sound in us”? With last minute baking, shopping or cleaning left to do, can you create time to enter into the rich tradition of our Church lived through scripture or the praying of the O Antiphons? What do you desire in these final days of Advent so that you feel ready to welcome Emmanuel, God With Us?

Peace be with you, Deena

Photo from Shutterstock on PicMonkey

Visit the monks at St John’s Abbey and scroll down to find the nightly singing of the O Antiphons


Advent – December 11, 2022

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers and rejoice with joyful song. Isaiah 35

Isaiah continues in Chapter 35 by describing a world that will see the splendor of God, where hands are strong and knees are firm (ok, that part of the prophecy hits home), the frightened are now fearless and unafraid, eyes and ears seeing and hearing and the lame able to leap and move about. The prophet continues to talk about a new world order, as I shared last week. It’s a beautiful vision to hold and rejoice in during this Third Week of Advent.

Today after a parish cookie sale, I dropped off our excess cookies at the homeless shelter. The person that greeted me said that the cookies would be appreciated because there are so many children staying at the shelter at the moment. It broke my heart. You don’t have to look far to see similar stories of hardship, just watch the news. I know families grieving the loss of a loved one as we prepare for Christmas, and in two specific cases, one in my area and another in Baton Rouge, two families trying to navigate life after the suicide of 13 year sons. Weather catastrophes, homelessness, violence – how do we rejoice? Where do we see glimpses of the world to come? We have faith that when Jesus comes again, we’ll see the glory of the Lord. But what about now?

I am in a weekly prayer group that began about 4 years ago after attending a weekend parish retreat. We select different books or programs to study and discuss. We are currently reading the Advent and Christmas Reflection book by Word on Fire, The Word Became Flesh. One of the homilies included for reflection in the book was written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. St. Bernard was a Benedictine Abbott and major leader in the reformation of the Benedictine order. He was canonized a short time after his death and named a Doctor of the Church in 1830. I was awestruck! St. Bernard writes in dramatic fashion of the brief moment that the Angel Gabriel is waiting for Mary to respond yes, her fiat. He writes that God needs Mary to respond yes, to give her consent to the angel, for the fulfillment of salvation to take place, and that the rest of humanity waits in anticipation. It is one of the most moving pieces I have read. (The homily can be found in the Office of Readings, for the Fourth Week of Advent, in the Liturgy of the Hours, the “Divine Office” or Breviary.)

I have been thinking about that homily all week. I don’t mean these next ponderings on the same level of importance as Mary’s fiat, but I wonder if God waits for our consent, the decisions we make and actions toward others, to be part of the plan of bringing love and hope in the world. Does God wait for us to help provide hope to those we encounter?

Perhaps God places desires in our heart as way to serve. Perhaps God waits with a similar anticipation for us to stand in our “yes” to those desires, our call.

One of my favorite prayers is by St. John Henry Cardinal Newman regarding our mission in life. It was shared in class when I was in the Lay Ministry program in our Diocese. I have never forgotten it and when I wonder about my purpose or have a decision to make, I often return to this prayer.

This is the beginning of the prayer:

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

As we try to identify and live that mission, we can live in an Advent spirit of Gaudete, Rejoice. We help our world move a step closer to that vision that Isaiah shares of the ransomed returned and where sorrow and mourning are ceased. If not ceased, maybe paused for just a moment. We enter singing, crowned with an everlasting joy that cannot be filled by the passing moments of this world. We anticipate and look to that day, as we do this Advent for Christmas, with hearts full of rejoicing and joyful song.

Peace be with you, Deena

Image by Shutterstock on PicMonkey


Advent – December 4, 2022

On this Second Sunday of Advent we hear about a new world order. It certainly doesn’t sound like the world we live in today. The world feels more chaotic, like we should be listening to the voice of the prophet John the Baptist, calling us all to reform and repent. Yet, Isaiah tells us of a world that will be filled with justice, harmony, animals that usually attack each other lying down peacefully together, and the ultimate prize, peace for ever.

While we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas and again, at the end of time, we seek that peace in our hearts and in our families. Our daily prayers help us to vision the world that Isaiah foretells. They help us to slow down, to listen, to be still in the midst of our holiday shopping, baking and preparations. To see the world differently, to be a bit kinder.

But in the scripture readings for the Second Sunday of Advent, I was most struck by St Paul’s letter to the Romans. St. Paul tells us that the God of endurance and encouragement will help us to think in harmony with one another and that with one voice we will glorify God. He asks us to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us. Harmony? One voice? This can seem like a remote fantasy too.

If you have ever visited a Benedictine Monastery, you have experienced that kind of being welcomed that St. Paul speaks of. The community makes sure that your needs are taken care of and that you have someone to guide you to chapel, that you feel included and part of communal prayer. In The Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 53, The Reception of Guests, Benedict writes that “all guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”

Can you imagine if we spent our days trying to see Christ in others? The person that races up behind you in the car or cuts you off? The grouchy clerk that tosses your items down to the end of the checkout counter like a frisbee? The colleague that says they are listening but is distracted the entire time? The politicians we don’t agree with? The governments around the world abusing our natural resources? I am sure we can all come up with a list of people we are challenged to see as the body of Christ standing before us.

One of the daily prayer guides I use for reflection and daily Mass is Give Us This Day. I read editor, Mary Stommes’ reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent on Welcome. She talks about Advent as a time that exists right now but also not yet. She says “The thing is, the more clearly we see Christ, the more Advent will cut to our core. The more we will realize that hope and hurt are close companions. The more we will recognize our own sinfulness, the ‘harm and ruin’ we inflict within and without.” (December issue, Second Sunday of Advent Reflection.).

I am challenged to look at how I encounter others when I am distracted or in a bad mood. Do I set aside my own concerns and look for the face of Christ in the person standing right in front of me? Can I say a silent prayer for the person that I see as treating me unfairly? Where am I inflicting “harm and ruin” by being angry at or judging others? Are you willing to join me on this challenge this week?

My prayer is that we find opportunities to be kinder, more welcoming and hospitable to those we encounter each day this week. If we can, then I think we close the gap a bit between the way the world is today and the way we long for it to be. We help prepare the way and help make straight the path. We help water the roots so a bud of peace will blossom.

Peace be with you, Deena

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Give Us This Day if you don’t already.

Image by Laura Nyhuis on Unsplash

Advent – November 27, 2022

Starting this blog on the First Sunday of Advent seems fitting, it’s the first day of the Liturgical Year 2023. Happy New Year! I would like to share a few thoughts about why I am writing and then a thought about Advent.

The idea to write about journeys began many years ago when I owned my little ice cream/health and wellness shop in Oglesby, Illinois. I had an idea for a book and bought a url for a website. Seriously, I mean MANY years ago, a time before blogs! I wanted to write about how our call, to live our lives authentically using the gifts and talents we each have, comes to life when we share it with others. We help others as we honor the call we each have and encourage each other to listen to it. I sat on it for years!

In more recent times, I have been encouraged to listen to the voice within that seeks expression, by exceptional writer, journalist, contemporary poet and friend, Judith Valente. I’ve been inspired by Judith to keep journaling, writing haiku and letter writing. (A must read regarding two spiritual companions sharing their journey in letter writing – How to Be by Judith and Brother Paul Quenon) Although I am not as faithful as I would like with poetry writing. Judith said write for yourself, write to share your thoughts, even if no one reads it. I have pages of ideas that would be part of a book. I waited for a sign, for more ideas, to have more time. I kept putting it off.

About a month ago, I had a pretty significant emotional setback. It wasn’t a crisis of faith, but one of purpose. I wondered what the point was if I didn’t have a purpose. I had a lot going on in my personal and work life, so I know now, looking back, things seemed worse at the moment than they actually were. But it was a moment of crisis that resulted in deep self-reflection and setting goals to focus on things that are important to me. One of those goals was to begin this blog. So, today I begin.

Perhaps you have had moments like that on your life’s journey. Think about who and what helped you moved out of the darkness of not knowing what to do next. Write about it – capture your thoughts in a journal or write a letter (yes, the long-hand kind, on stationery, not an email or text) to the person who was there for you.

Advent is a time of waiting and preparing. In life we wait. We wait for summer vacations, holidays and family gatherings. We wait for good health reports or wait in hopes that the news isn’t bad. We wait for the arrival of a new baby, a new job, new beginnings. We live in a time of instant gratification. We don’t like to wait or we wait impatiently. All you have to do is look at Black Friday sales that begin in September or October and continue long after “the” Black Friday. We are marketed to and sold that we have to act now or we’ll miss out.

In some ways, spiritually, this is true. We need to “awaken from our slumber, to always be aware of the presence of God, and to welcome Him in our daily lives.” (Pope Francis, Angelus Message on the First Sunday of Advent) Pope Francis also said we need to shake off the lethargy of daily life and be vigilant always. To wait for, prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas and at the end of times should give us reason for hope. It is a foundation of our Christian faith.

I attended the funeral of a wonderful woman yesterday. I will miss her warm smile and greeting at daily and Saturday Masses. Madeline had a long life and the celebration of her faith was a reason for rejoicing that years of believing and confident trust will be worth the wait for her. The “discipline of doing God’s will is not … quick and easy. Neither is bearing with things that we have repeatedly asked God to fix” says Judith Sutera in Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from St. Benedict. As a Benedictine Oblate (lay associate of a Benedictine monastery) we begin the year (and repeat twice through the year) with the Prologue of The Rule of St. Benedict reminding us to get up, to rise from our sleep and to open our eyes and ears to God’s voice.

Advent helps us take a deeper look at the delicate balance of waiting, slowing down in hopeful anticipation, and being prepared for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. My goal is to be more thoughtful and prayerful this Advent. I don’t want to arrive at Christmas saying I wish I had prepared better, spiritually. I also don’t want to say that at the end of my days.

On this first day of Advent, make a “new year’s” resolution of your own. How would you like to spend this time of waiting, preparing for Christmas? What changes might you make to deepen your faith life or your spiritual practices and communal prayer life this new liturgical year? Is there a slumber or lethargy that you would like to wake from? How can you be more aware of God’s presence in the common and ordinary moments of each day?

Peace be with you, Deena

Note: My goal is to write weekly but during this holy time of Advent and Christmas, I may post a bit more. I hope that this blog will provide some food for thought and inspiration, but at least, know that you have a friend on this journey with you.

Image by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash