Calendar & Seasons

Celebrating the Assumption of Mary

"The Assumption of the Virgin" (detail) by Guido Reni

On August 15th of each Liturgical Year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the United States, the Assumption is a Holy Day of Obligation unless it  falls on a Saturday or Monday, in which case the precept to attend Mass is abrogated: “Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, […]

Crossing the Threshold of Holy Week

"The First Eucharist" by Juan de Juanes

It caught me by surprise that the Carmelite Sisters keep a complete and prayerful silence during the Holy Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, not speaking until the conclusion of the evening Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday. I remember when I was the “new kid on the block,” a recently-arrived postulant who was learning more and […]

A Lenten Reflection on Christ in the Desert

“…if anyone wishes to seriously exercise the spiritual life, he had better know that the company of people that hold our own faith and worship in our own churches is a most difficult company to keep. And we ought not to pretend we can follow God very far unless we know that it is a desert like asceticism.” I write […]

Forty Ideas for Your Lent

Lent is supposed to be a season of a successful journey through the desert of penance to a new land and a new, deeper, intimacy with God. But often, we find ourselves going back to the same old Lenten pathways of past years and end up getting nowhere. My aim here is to put into your hands some new Lenten […]

Living the Faith in the Ordinary Moments of Life

We are only two weeks into the new year and I have already heard many comments about how quickly Christmas “came and went” and how “soon Lent will be upon us!” That’s what happens in this earthly life—we move through time. We mark moments in time that represent important events. Time is one of the essential elements by which we […]

Eliminating Obstacles Between Christ and Us in 2018

"Christ the Consolator" (detail) by Carl Bloch

As I considered what to write for this post in the first week of 2018, I reflected on years of well-intended resolutions to lose weight, go to daily Mass, pick up a new hobby, play more tennis, etc. which ended in failure as my desires clashed with the reality of my busy schedule and stubborn resistance to change. I like […]

Keeping the Memory of Christmas and Resisting the Siren Call of Our Culture

"Adoration of the Shepherds" (detail) by Gerard van Honthorst

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King!  Merry Christmas!  It is a wonderful time as we celebrate our Savior’s birth with friends and loved ones. It is also an appropriate time to focus on what is most important and reject the siren call of our culture. I enjoyed this past Advent season, perhaps more […]

Love’s Greatest Gift

"Adoration of the Shepherds" (detail) by Gerard van Honthorst

“I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Merry Christmas! I love holidays. I love family. The two just seem to go together, don’t they?. Some holidays are joyful gatherings, some not so much. We are all too human, as the saying goes. But I say, give me holidays and family any day; warts and […]

Learning from the Shepherds at Midnight Mass

"Adoration of the Shepherds" (detail) by Murillo

This message, indeed, “cannot leave us indifferent.” Because it is true, “it changes everything.” There is something beautifully symbolic about the tradition of Midnight Mass. It shows that Christians are so eager for Christmas to begin that they want to start celebrating on the first moment of Christmas day. People who ordinarily never go out late at night and are […]

What are the “O Antiphons” of Vespers?

"The Prophet Isaiah" (detail) by Michelangelo

The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, December 17-23, with December 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil. Introduction On the evening […]