Give yourself 45 minutes of peace: Christmas caroling with Kings College College

Baking? Wrapping? Cleaning the house for your celebrations? Bookmark this page and prepare your heart for Christmas with this amazing choir’s hymns.

The F.U.N. Quotient… a non-traditional song for Advent- “God with us” by Mercy Me

Got holiday chores and plans? Here’s one that keeps my heart pumping and feet moving as I work out my list, and check it twice….

Mercy Me – God With Us (Official Music Video) from mercymemusic on GodTube.

Who are we
that You would be mindful of us
what do You see
that’s worth looking our way we are
free in ways that we never should be
sweet release from the grip of these chains
like hinges
straining from the weight
my heart no longer can keep from singing.

[chorus]
all that is within me cries for You alone be glorified
Emmanuel God with us
my heart sings a brand new song
the debt is paid these chains are gone
Emmanuel God with us.

Lord You know
our hearts don’t deserve Your glory
still You show a love we cannot afford
like hinges straining from the weight
my heart no longer can keep from singing. [back to chorus]

Such a tiny offering compared to Calvary nevertheless we lay it at your feet. [back to chorus]

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

God Became Man – my latest article at Catholic Digest

Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinctive sign of Christian faith.” (CCC, 463)

As Catholics, we profess our belief in the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed: Jesus Christ “came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

The Incarnation is a unique and singular event. Its truth informs the way we view God and ourselves.

Divine condescension

When Jesus arrived on the earth, he changed the way humanity viewed God. In Jesus, God came down from heaven to earth, without compromising his divinity.

The Incarnation of Christ crowned centuries of divine revelation, God’s slow revealing of himself, making himself known to humanity over time. God’s divine communication was now to be known through the Person of his Son. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Incarnation as “the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it” (CCC, 461).

This is the deepest meaning behind our Christmas celebrations.

[T]he Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. (CCC, 464)

This holy condescension of God means that we can never accuse God of being absent or lofty or unreachable or inaccessible. The Incarnation—the taking on of flesh in the Virgin’s womb—is the moment whereby the inexhaustible, inexpressible, invisible, omnipotent, and almighty Holy One takes on human visage. The divinity of God shines through a human person now.

At the time appointed by God, the only Son of the Father, the eternal Word, that is, the Word and substantial Image of the Father, became incarnate; without losing his divine nature he has assumed human nature. (CCC, 479)

Divine dignity

Jesus, coming as a human person, changed the way we view ourselves. The Second Vatican Council declared that the Incarnation raises our own human dignity.

He who is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) is himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam he restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as he assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. (Gaudium et Spes, 22)

Humanity now counts the face of God among its own.

Never again may I look at another person, or myself, with disdain or disrespect, for there is an inherent dignity in all.

Read the rest at Catholic Digest.

I’m pleased to be a regular columnist there writing about the beauty and inspiration that comes from the Catechism of the Church. Click here to subscribe to Catholic Digest. 

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This makes me think… Is my identity that of an intentional disciple of Jesus?

Thanks to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for this video of what discipleship can look like in our lives…

The Pink Candle and other Musings – from my Patheos archives…

The Pink Candle and other Musings – from my Patheos archives…

To the uninitiated, that pink candle at church makes no sense from a decorating point of view. It throws off the symmetry of the other three purple candles in the Advent wreath. Yet, it immediately draws attention.

A common sight in Advent, the pink or rose candle lit on the Third Sunday is a harbinger, a signpost, a little light that stirs the imagination. Something is a little bit different this week . . .

And what are we paying attention to? A respite from purple candles? Um, in a way, yes. But there is a much bigger picture, a broader context than ambience and church décor. Like so many visuals in the Mass, color is just one of the things that corresponds to the liturgical season, always pointing to a deeper truth.

If the purple candles are to remind us of the penitential and preparatory season of Advent, then the pink or rose candle is there to remind us of the soon coming joy of Christmas and the future joy of Christ’s coming again. Therefore, the object of our love and devotion should animate our penance, prayer, and service.

In years gone by, most Catholics learned that the Third Sunday was commonly called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete was translated from the Latin as “rejoice”! Gaudete Sunday gets it name from the opening antiphon and prayers of the Mass that declare: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (“Gaudete in Domino semper”) (Phil 4:4).

This Third Sunday, the Church is harkening to its good news: the Word is made flesh in Jesus, and the Kingdom of Heaven is born in our midst.

The imagery in Sunday’s First Reading from Isaiah, recorded centuries before the first coming Christ, hints at this coming joy.

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.

They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God . . .

Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you . . .

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; 
they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee (Is 35:1-2, 4, 10).

As always, there is much to meditate on, but the simple phrase that captures my attention as we come to this Sunday with joy is that once-and-future hope that the prophet gives about one day coming back to our true homeland, “crowned with everlasting glory.”

And I wonder if we could envision ourselves on that special Day, would we live any differently than we do now?

After all, rejoicing, as a verb, means it is something that we do.

Why? Because it is something that we Christians are: Joyful.

Or, are we still works in progress in the joy department?

It is here that the Church is giving hints to what our witness ought to be even within a penitential season. While the ransoming of our lives through Christ takes place long before the crowning occurs, such knowledge is a deep well for joy, hope, and the kind of repentance that leads back to joy.

Joy can be our watchword in this season for it reveals the deepest truth about the deepest reality of Christ’s Coming. But even more profoundly, that he has come and will come for me. And you. This joy is personal as well as corporate.

(Read the rest over at Patheos…)

Among Women 188: Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood and Ours

Among Women 188: Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood and Ours

This new episode of Among Women discusses Mary’s spiritual maternity, her spiritual motherhood of the Church, and of us! The recent Marian feasts of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Immaculate Conception gives the perfect liturgical setting to call women to go deeper with Mary. Not only that, I give my summarization of spiritual motherhood — an aspect of the feminine genius that all women are called to exercise in imitation of Mary, our mother.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.41.32 PMAlso in this show, I enjoy a conversation with Mary Matheus, this year’s Treasurer of the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW). Together we talk about how the NCCW shines the light on the leadership of women in the Church and in the world.

As a special additional feature of today’s show, I’m sharing my keynote address from the NCCW’s 2013 annual conventional — “What the World Needs Now are Spiritual Mothers.” Be sure to listen to that talk after the interview with Mary Matheus.

photoThe theme of spiritual motherhood is very dear to my heart, and I spend a few chapters on this subject in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood. This show features an opportunity to win a free copy of the book in a random drawing I’m having now until Dec 21. Listen for more details on Among Women 188.

Listen the latest show, Among Women 188, or choose a show from our archives. 

To love Mary means to be committed to her son. #OurLadyOfGuadalupe

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As we now pray the Angelus and remember the Annunciation of the Lord, our eyes too turn spiritually towards the hill of Tepeyac, to the place where the Mother of God, under the title of “the Ever-Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe” has been fervently honoured for centuries as a sign of reconciliation and of God’s infinite goodness towards the world.

True devotion to the Virgin Mary always takes us to Jesus, and “consists neither in sterile nor transitory feelings, nor in an empty credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to recognise the excellence of the Mother of God, and we are moved to filial love towards our Mother and to the imitation of her virtues” (Lumen Gentium, 67).

To love her means being committed to listening to her Son, to venerate the Guadalupana means living in accordance with the words of the blessed fruit of her womb.

I place once again this country, all Latin America and the Caribbean before the gentle gaze of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I entrust all their sons and daughters to the Star of both the original and the new evangelisation; she has inspired with her maternal love their Christian history, has given particular expression to their national achievements, to their communal and social initiatives, to family life, to personal devotion and to the Continental Mission which is now taking place across these noble lands.

In times of trial and sorrow she was invoked by many martyrs who, in crying out “Long live Christ the King and Mary of Guadalupe” bore unyielding witness of fidelity to the Gospel and devotion to the Church. I now ask that her presence in this nation may continue to serve as a summons to defence and respect for human life. May it promote fraternity, setting aside futile acts of revenge and banishing all divisive hatred. May Holy Mary of Guadalupe bless us and obtain for us the abundant graces that, through her intercession, we request from heaven.

Pope Benedict XVI
Angelus reflection at Bicentennial Park, Leon, Mexico
March 25, 2012.

This makes me think… we need Mary, who carried God within her. #ImmaculateConception

O Mother, how pure you are, you are untouched by sin; yours was the privilege to carry God within you.
Antiphon from Morning Prayer, December 8