Column: Advent and Christmas

This column contains articles related to the Catholic Church's observance of Advent and celebration of Christmas.

Ask — A childhood memory of Fr. Bob Wild, as told to Scott Eagan.... (December 28, 2015)

The Crib and the Cross — by St. Thomas Becket. On December 29, 1170, St. Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, suffered martyrdom for refusing to go along with the efforts of King Henry II to seize control of the Church in England. The following is the... (December 25, 2015)

The Humility of God — by Pope Francis. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who dwelt in a land of darkness, a light has shone (Is 9:1) An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and the... (December 24, 2015)

Born in Poverty — by Catherine Doherty. Once again we are plunged into the incredible mystery of the birth of Christ!... (December 22, 2015)

The Burning Babe — by St. Robert Southwell (1561–1595). This poem was written during the English Reformation while the saint was imprisoned. During that time, he was frequently interrogated under torture and was facing execution.... (December 26, 2014)

How Poverty Became Rich — by Catherine Doherty. From the dawn of time, ever since man could remember, Poverty lived on earth. Always he was sorely afraid of her. He hated her, and would, if possible, have nothing to do with her.... (December 24, 2014)

A Sad and Glad Christmas — by Catherine Doherty. Our foundress wrote this Christmas letter to her Madonna House family in 1976. It was prophetic: her words are even truer now than they were then. I want you, with a desire that is almost too hard... (December 22, 2014)

Christmas in Our Houses: MH Russia 2013 — by Karen Maskiew. In our houses, like in yours, Christmas doesn’t always turn out as planned. On Christmas Eve, Catherine Lesage (called "Katia" in Russia) woke up sick with a bad cold, so we were wondering if we should cancel... (December 19, 2014)

Christmas in Our Houses: MH Arizona 2013 — by Kathy McVady. As I was dropping off one of the many plates of Christmas cookies we deliver to friends, benefactors, and the sick and elderly, someone asked me, "Did you hear about the miracle at our Walmart?" I... (December 17, 2014)

Christmas in Our Houses: St. Joseph’s House 2013 — by Alma Coffman. In December, it got down to as low as -30 C (-22 F), and we had an accumulation of almost three feet of snow. Carol Ann Gieske and Martha Reilander tried to make a skating rink on... (December 15, 2014)

Bah! Humbug! — by Fr. Pat McNulty. "Bah! Humbug!" Where does that "humbug" thing come from, Reverend? You mean you really don’t know where "Bah! Humbug!" comes from? You’ve never read the famous book, Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens or seen it on... (December 12, 2014)

Tear Open My Heart and Come Through! — by Fr. Bob Wild. All during Advent we’re going to sing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!" Desiring Christ’s coming, begging him to come, sharing in his own longing to come to us: this is what Advent is all about. But... (December 08, 2014)

A Candle in Our Hearts — by Catherine Doherty. Advent is the time of expectation. True, Christ has already come upon earth. He has been crucified, and has risen. He is with us now, in his Church. And yet, somehow, as the season for commemorating... (December 05, 2014)

The Source of All Renewal — by Fr. David May. Late evenings in December have a special beauty here at Madonna House in what we call "the Main House." For most of Advent, the décor is kind of spare and simple. Unlike many folks today, we... (December 01, 2014)

Soon Christmas — by Catherine de Vinck. Autumn’s gold spent the trees bare, iron branches studded with crows. What is real? the apple on the table, the rain rapping the window with wet knuckles, the otherness of others, each and all locked in... (November 28, 2014)

Christmas Eve in French Canada — by Jocko d’Ursel. Last Christmas, our greatest joy was a Réveillon we organized. This is a traditional French Canadian family get-together on Christmas Eve before or after midnight Mass, but we did it for those who were alone for that... (December 24, 2013)

How We Celebrate — by Catherine Doherty. Decorations, food, and music: these are the main components of any celebration, and in teaching us how to celebrate, our foundress Catherine wrote about all three.... (December 13, 2013)

A Movie or the Advent Wreath? — by Cynthia Donnelly. This article was adapted from a talk given in Combermere in May 2013. The mandate for this house is to pray for the president of the USA and those who work for the government and to respond... (December 06, 2013)

The Advent Wreath — by Catherine Doherty. The first thing to begin Advent with is the Advent Wreath. It can be made of any kind of greenery found in your part of the world.... (December 04, 2013)

Waiting for God — by Fr. Bob Pelton. Wait for the Lord whose day is near. Wait for the Lord, keep watch, take heart. These lines, an antiphon from our Advent morning prayer, have been sitting in my heart. This is what Advent... (December 02, 2013)

Where Love Is, God Is — by Catherine Doherty.  Where was Christ born? In a quiet, dry cave, of which there are so many in the Holy Land, and which probably was close to an inn. That is where God was born.... (December 24, 2012)

Grandmother’s Gift: A Christmas Story — by Fr. David May. The little boy ran anxiously to the window and looked down the driveway. Still no car! When would they ever arrive? It seemed like they should have been home hours ago … but still no... (December 21, 2012)

A Christmas Meditation — by Scott Eagan. Every year, towards the end of Advent, in the chapel at St. Ben’s, the Madonna House farm, a wooden box appears under the altar. It is filled with golden straw, and it sits on a beaver... (December 20, 2012)

Christmas Gifts — by Fr. Robert Yori, associate priest of MH. During this Advent and Christmas season, I’d like to share with you some Christmas memories that have come to mind recently.... (December 18, 2012)

What St. Francis Discovered — by Pope Benedict XVI. In 1223, when St. Francis of Assisi celebrated Christmas in Greccio with an ox and an ass and a manger full of hay, [thereby creating the first crèche] a new dimension of the mystery of... (December 17, 2012)

The Reality of Christ’s Poverty — by Catherine Doherty. This is the month of Christ’s birthday. This is the month that the Son of God and the Son of Man was born in a cave. Over the centuries, men and women have sentimentalized his birth.... (December 12, 2012)

The Grace of Christmas — by Pope Benedict XVI. The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly "God with us." No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation, and in our own... (December 26, 2011)

First Christmas in Combermere — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine’s first winter in Combermere was a difficult one. She and her husband Eddie had little money, the cold was bitter, and except for Grace Flewwelling, or "Flewy," as she was called, it would be a... (December 23, 2011)

Just Another Christmas Homily? — by Joe Procopio. I remember the election of Pope John the XXIII in 1958. In December of that year he celebrated his first Christmas Mass as pope, and it was the first time that the Church had the technology... (December 21, 2011)

A Christmas Gift — by an MH Mission House director. Ordinarily we would tell you the name of the mission house a story occurred in, and the author, but this time we want to guard the privacy of the woman involved. And to further do... (December 19, 2011)

A Christmas Parable — by Fr. Michael Prieur, associate priest of MH. A man was driving along a highway. It was snowing very hard, and the wind was blowing very strong. He had only a small amount of gas in his tank, but he... (December 16, 2011)

Season of Stillness — by Catherine Doherty. My Russian shrine stands peaceful and quiet. Its roof is covered with snow. The Virgin of Kiev is reflected in the vigil light that always burns before her face. It looks especially beautiful in the dark of... (December 07, 2011)

Searching for God in the Desert — by Fr. Pat McNulty. If I remember correctly, it seems to me that I have written at least one Advent article a year in this newspaper about the desert. Many of the details of my time in the Sinai... (December 02, 2011)

Christmas — by Catherine Doherty. My heart is a wild thing, filled with love. My soul sings songs to a Dove. My feet dance a mad dance of joy. For my eyes see Father, Son, and the Spirit of Love In a... (December 25, 2010)

The King Has Already Come — by Catherine Doherty. All around us is the struggle for power, political and otherwise. Every country and each political party within that country seeks its own glory at the price of someone else’s. As a result of this, people suffer... (December 24, 2010)

An Advent Invitation — by Pope Benedict XVI. For the early Christians, the word "adventus" included the idea of visit, specifically a visit from God—the idea that God enters my life and wishes to speak to me.... (December 03, 2010)

The Word Made Flesh — by Catherine de Vinck. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Jn 1:14... (December 28, 2009)

A Christmas Poem — by Catherine Doherty.... (December 24, 2009)

The Heart of a Child — by Catherine Doherty. Christ told us that unless we become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We tend to associate children with Christmas in a very sentimental way: a newborn baby is "cute," children are... (December 23, 2009)

Letter to a Little Girl — by Catherine Doherty and Peggy. September 5, 2003 Dear Postulator of Catherine’s Cause, "Aunt Kate" [Catherine Doherty] wrote this letter and sent this snapshot to me more than forty years ago. It is a much treasured possession of mine.... (December 22, 2009)

Our Christmas Tree — by Cynthia Donnelly. Last Christmas we found one of the most beautiful Christmas trees, or so we thought. We bought it and brought it home.... (December 21, 2009)

Choosing Christmas — by Fr. David May. Saturday morning is cleaning day in my part of Madonna House, otherwise known as "The Main House." I have a hallway to vacuum, a bathroom to clean, and then my office and bedroom to do. I... (December 18, 2009)

Advent: Season of Hope — by Pope Benedict XVI. …Advent is par excellence the spiritual season of hope. In it, the whole Church is called to become hope for herself and for the world…. …Our God is "the God who comes" and calls us to... (December 01, 2009)

Peeling Vegetables and Christmas — by Catherine Doherty. A staff worker of Friendship House, one of Catherine Doherty’s earlier houses, was bored and tired of her job—peeling vegetables for the soup kitchen. Catherine wrote her this letter on Christmas Day, 1937.... (December 26, 2008)

A Christmas Homily — by St. Francis of Assisi. God has revealed the very depths of his being. In him there is not only power, sovereignty, knowledge, and majesty. Yes, my friends, God is childhood and tenderness. And he is that because he is... (December 24, 2008)

A Cry at Christmastime — by Catherine Doherty. The river is imprisoned today in the powerful arms of a thick icy sheet that covers it completely. The air is cold, clear and crisp. Nature seems to have entered into its time of prayer and solitude,... (December 22, 2008)

Christmastime in the MH Houses — Here are some glimpses into Christmastime in three very different houses last year.... (December 19, 2008)

Teaching Children to Share — by Anne Marie Murphy. Throughout the many years I’ve spent at Madonna House field houses, I have been encouraged by parents who pass on to their children the practice of giving at Christmastime without expecting to receive something back. This... (December 17, 2008)

Wellspring of Joy — by Pope Benedict XVI.Gaudete in Domino semper. Rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4:4). Mass of the Third Sunday of Advent opens with these words and is therefore called "Gaudete Sunday." The apostle Paul urges Christians to rejoice because the... (December 15, 2008)

At Home in the Saving Presence of Christ — by Fr. Pat McNulty. "Do you know Jesus as yer personal sigh-ver?" I looked up from my book into the eyes of a lady sitting directly across the aisle from me on the bus. "I beg your pardon." "Yer all... (December 03, 2008)

Christmas in Krasnoyarsk — by Marie Javora. Last year, three staff celebrated the first Christmas of Madonna House in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. When Katia (Catherine Lesage) and I returned home after a Twelve Step seminar, there wasn’t too much time for Christmas preparations.... (December 26, 2007)

Spinning a Cradle of Silence — by Catherine Doherty. My Russian shrine stands peaceful and quiet. Its roof is covered with snow. The Virgin of Kiev is reflected in the vigil light that always burns before her face. It looks especially beautiful in the dark of... (December 24, 2007)

An Advent Amethyst — by Fr. Eddie Doherty. Dear God, Loving Father of us all, The snow falls softly today. The flakes dance and whirl. They flutter and hesitate as they near the earth, trying to pick out a likely place to land. Then... (December 21, 2007)

A Child at the Manger — by Anne Marie Murphy. Have you ever spent time with a small child at a manger scene? A few months ago as I was working at St. Raphael’s, our handicraft center, a couple and their four-year-old daughter came through on... (December 19, 2007)

Celebrating the Darker Meaning of Christmas — by Wilfred McClay. A number of years ago, a friend of mine made an observation about his experiences of successive Christmases, one that has stuck in my mind as equally true for me and perhaps for many of us. He... (December 17, 2007)

Advent: A Road into Infinity — by Catherine Doherty. Advent is a short season, yet it covers a long distance. It is the road of a soul from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It seems such a short distance, as we are accustomed to thinking of distances. Yet... (December 14, 2007)

Faith: A Subjunctive Mood — by Fr. Pat McNulty. It was about 3 a.m. when I pulled my car into the checkpoint at Canadian Customs and Immigration. Though there were trucks in their own lane, mine was the only car around. The middle-aged man in... (December 12, 2007)

Becoming Small Enough to Think Big — by Fr. David May. If someone asked you what is the most important thing you do to prepare for Christmas, what would you say? Decorate? Advent wreath? Finish shopping by mid-December? Daily Mass? Rosary? Cook for the feast? Get a... (December 10, 2007)

The God Who Comes Now — by Pope Benedict XVI. "Proclaim to the peoples: God our Savior is coming!" With this, the first antiphon of First Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent, the Church begins the season of Advent and the new liturgical year. Thus... (December 03, 2007)

First Christmas in Combermere — by Catherine Doherty.The first Christmas of Madonna House Combermere, in 1947, Lady Poverty dwelt with us in her all-shining reality. Madonna House then was just a six-room house with no outbuildings, except for an outdoor toilet. It stood rather lonely,... (December 22, 2006)

Invited to Joy — by Pope Benedict XVI. The angel went to Mary and said, "Rejoice, so highly favored one! The Lord is with you." Often the word of the angel is translated as "Hail, Mary," but the Greek word, the word the angel... (December 20, 2006)

Gingerbread Bishops — by Paulette Curran. Here in Madonna House, in numerous ways, we immerse ourselves in the seasons of Advent and Christmas. One way is by celebrating the feasts in Advent. One of the more festive of these is the feast of... (December 06, 2006)

Christmas — by Catherine Doherty. Christmas. The familiar story—a stable, a manger, a Baby, a virgin mother, shepherds, carols, presents, Christmas trees, good will to all men. Do we ever stop to consider the utter desolation of that birth? The loneliness of... (December 23, 2005)

No Room at the Inn? — by Fr. Bob Yori, associate priest of MH. At Christmas 1967, I was at a language school in Latin America where I had been sent to study Spanish. About twelve or fourteen of us lived in a very nice house,... (December 21, 2005)

God Keeps His Promises — by Pope John Paul II. Know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Be sure that he will not delay (from the liturgy of December 17th). The annual evocation of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem renews in... (December 19, 2005)

The Cry of a Prophet — by Catherine Doherty. Chapter forty of the book of the prophet Isaiah contains some of the most beautiful passages in scripture. And these prophecies are eternal. They were not just meant for the time of Jerusalem. They are meant for... (December 02, 2005)


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