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Watching and Waiting During 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. […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

The Fast Comes Before the Feast

Christmas cards speak about it.  Christmas carols sing about it.  Even the angels at Bethlehem proclaimed it.  “Peace on earth.”  “The lion shall lie down with the lamb.” (Is 11).  “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever” (Ps 72). The coming of the Messiah obviously has something to do with the advent of peace. But […]

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Have Yourself a Counter-Cultural Advent

Here we are once again, beginning my favorite season of the year: Advent.  It’s the longest it can possibly be this year, too, so it’s a good thing I like it. I’ve decided that Advent is the most counter-cultural season we celebrate.  I’m not only referring to the fact that the world seems to celebrate Christmas as soon as it […]

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For Advent, Let’s Focus on Simplicity

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all of the stress, responsibilities and challenges in your daily life? If I am honest with myself, the times I feel most anxious or stressed are usually caused by my lifelong tendency to overcomplicate things and an inclination towards “busyness”. I am grateful for the occasional insights I have into ways to address this […]

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A Guide for Reading Sigrid Undset

If you must read Sigrid Undset—and I recommend you do—you’d better be prepared.  Be prepared for an emotional ride.  Sigrid Undset is a woman, by the way, and a major Norwegian author of the early twentieth century.  A major author of everywhere, actually.  And she ought to be still. Start with Kristin Lavransdatter You’ll probably begin with Kristin Lavransdatter because everyone will make you […]

Chiesa Dei Santi Michele e Gaetano, Florence, ItalyChiesa Dei Santi Michele e Gaetano, Florence, Italy

Moments of Grace

“Safe travels… ciao, ciao!” Antonio shouted with a warm smile and a hug.  The meetings were over, business trip complete and it was time for me to fly back to Atlanta.  After a full week of meetings in Florence, Italy, followed by customer dinners each night, much was accomplished and I was tired. I walked outside the convention hall; the […]

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Have an Old Fashioned, Blessed, Wonderful Christmas

Here we are in the hustle and bustle of the Advent season. I don’t know about you, but in this stressful year, in this charged political and cultural climate, I’m yearning for simplicity. I suggest we turn inward and look to yesteryear a bit, to see what we can do to create an old fashioned, blessed, wonderful Christmas for our […]

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Therefore, stay awake!

“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). This verse is part of a larger passage (Matthew 24:1 — 25:30) where Jesus speaks about the time before his second coming—that is the time in which we all live. Of course this is immediately followed with the separation of the sheep and […]

Photography © by Andy CoanPhotography © by Andy Coan

The deeper meaning of Christmas lights

As fall moves onward towards winter we have places to go, things to do, people to meet.  Yet as we go about our business, we notice the days are getting shorter.  Sweaters come out of storage, we close the windows, and turn on the heat. Advent is a season where we stop and remember that the light of this world […]

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The Week of “In-betweenness” and the Kingdom of God

There always seems to be a feeling of “in-betweenness” during the last week of Ordinary Time.  We have just celebrated the great feast of Christ the King, which also signals the end of the liturgical year.  After the great feast we have the Thirty-fourth Week of Ordinary Time, but we’re awaiting the first Sunday of Advent.  In some ways, it feels […]