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Commit to spiritual self-care this Advent

Advent in our modern world has long been behind the cultural eight ball. It’s a season of waiting in a world of instant gratification, a season of quiet anticipation in a world of noisy commercialism. But this year, in the midst of pandemic challenges and political worries the likes of which we have never experienced in our lifetime, it might just be a season of joyful opportunity in a world of stressful chaos.

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Seattle snapshot: Advent 101

A very brief invitation to my Seattle Advent retreat. My first time in the Pacific Northwest. I loved it, and I found a spiritual vibe everywhere — at Pike Place Market, in the Ubers I called, at the vendor where I bought local wine. It may be the land of the “nones,” but the Force is strong with this one. Loved my visit. Can’t wait to go back again someday when I have more time to island hop. Thank you to St. Monica Church on Mercer Island and to the very welcoming folks of Seattle. (You have to sit through one minute of an empty ambo while they announce me. Never fear, I do eventually show up there.)

Christmas in July. Sort of.

My newest book of spiritual reflections is now available from Liturgical Press. It’s never too early to start planning for Christmas, right? You can get Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2017-18  for only $2 per copy at the Liturgical Press site, even cheaper ($1) if you buy in bulk, as many parishes do. There is also a large-print edition, which is only $5.95 and is not only larger print but a larger book for those who don’t want a pocket-size book, as well as an e-edition for 99 cents. The booklet  is also available on Amazon for $2 per copy, if you prefer to go the Prime route. Read more

Lighting the Advent wreath: just hit pause

My reflection on the Advent wreath, from the current issue of Give Us This Day:

Lighting the Advent wreath each night for prayers before dinner has long been my family’s tradition. The flickering candlelight growing brighter with each passing week mirrors the interplay of darkness and light we see outside our kitchen window at this time of year. There is something both haunting and comforting about a single flickering candle or two dancing against the velvety darkness. Our brief pause as we light a candle and offer a prayer opens up just enough space in our jam-packed lives to let the beauty of Advent edge its way into our souls. Read more

Entering Advent, sometimes kicking and screaming

If you’ve been a reader of this blog since the early days, you know my family has had some Advent struggles over the years. There was the time we needed to start Advent with a coin toss, and the time I canceled Advent as punishment. Yeah, we like to keep things interesting. But, I have to admit that I get sort of melancholy when I read about those days. Life moves by so quickly, and, before you know it, opening the doors on a calendar just doesn’t hold the same fascination. Enjoy it while you can. Read more

Happy St. Nicholas Day. What’s in your shoes?

The shoes were placed by the front door with care last night. Okay, to be honest, the almost-18-year-old just left them there out of habit, but the two girls were all over it. They still love the Feast of St. Nicholas. Somehow it’s like the unofficial start of the season around this house. Read more

What did Mary know, and when did she know it?

Earlier this week another Catholic blogger decided to do a line-by-line dissection of the popular Christmas song “Mary, Did you Know?” Nothing he said was new to me; I’ve heard it all before from other writers who have harped on the misguided theological aspects of this pop-culture take on Mary and Jesus.

All I can say is this: If we don’t understand that people are moved by songs that make them feel some sort of spiritual stirring (even if the songs are theologically incorrect or not theological at all), then it’s no wonder our pews are empty. People respond first to the tug of the spirit. Then we get to theology. Read more

This Advent, stop the clock and savor the season

Don’t let the frenzy of the season rob you of the chance to wait in wonder this Advent. Here’s my OSV Newsweekly story from last Advent to get you in the spirit:

By Mary DeTurris Poust

By the time Advent officially begins, most of us have been bombarded by so much Christmas music and Christmas advertising and Christmas everything that we’re already sick of the season. In a world where the Christmas countdown begins sometime before Halloween, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty of Advent, and to get so caught up in the material trappings that we can’t see the spiritual forest for the tinsel-covered trees. Read more

It’s always darkest before the dawn

I love Advent and Christmas. Really I do. I wear a Santa hat, light the Advent wreath, deck the halls, and drink eggnog like it’s going out of style, but usually by this point I am in closer to a pit-of-despair feeling than I am to holly jolly.

And every year I forget that I felt the exact same way the year before. I can go back to posts from Advents gone by and see the same sorry attitude. Read more