Calendar & Seasons

All Souls Day and Prayers for the Dead

"The Madonna of Carmel and the Souls of the Purgatory" (detail) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

I’ll never forget that bleak January day when my father died.  It was very hard to believe in the resurrection as I watched the undertakers carry away his lifeless corpse in a body bag. But imagine this scene.  You are an unborn child who has lived in cozy but cramped quarters with your twin for nine months.  But now you […]

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 […]

Eliminating Obstacles Between Christ and Us in 2019

"Christ the Consolator" (detail) by Carl Bloch

As I considered what to write for this post in the first week of 2019, 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 Murillo

“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 […]

The Church is the Inn

Christmas Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

On Tuesday we will mark one of the greatest scandals in history: there was no room in the inn. Not only did people turn their back on a woman about to give birth, but, without knowing, refused hospitality to the long-awaited Messiah. The Son of God made Man came to His own people, as St. John would write, but they […]

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 […]

Our Merciful Mother — Our Lady of Guadalupe

In every approved Marian apparition, Our Lady has a specific mission. Each one reveals a determined and specific message—a unique and necessary goal. In the Anáhuac Valley of Mexico, on a barren hill called Tepeyac, Our Lady of Guadalupe came as a “merciful Mother,” a healer and restorer of all who are broken in body and in spirit. It is […]

Watching and Waiting — Advent in Carmel

Advent in Carmel To experience Advent in Carmel is to enter into a rarified atmosphere that is filled to the brim with Carmel’s living legacy of Advent customs and observances. My first Advent in Carmel remains fresh in my memory today, still as vibrant and alive as when it happened. I feel at a loss, however, to write about it. […]

Focus on the Lord this Advent

We should allow the clarion call from this great saint to reverberate in our souls. Today we enter the Advent Season. It is past time to get ready… One of my strongest, most enduring memories from my childhood is the time spent preparing for Christmas. We did not have any family traditions involving the Advent Wreath or the Jesse Tree. And most certainly, like all […]