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God Reaches Out to Us through Others

The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is familiar to most Christians. We can imagine what it must be like to wander away from the flock, to be lost and cold and out of reach of all that’s familiar. Few of us have a direct experience of God caring for us as the Good Shepherd. For most of us, that loving presence comes from the flesh-and-blood people in our lives. God reaches out to others through us just as he reached out to us through others.

—from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

Hope and Heroism

The prophet Isaiah wrote at a time when violence and war were the order of the day. The people of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians and would later be taken into exile. And yet Isaiah could speak of a hope rooted in the Lord’s call for justice and for peace. Our own world seems to be increasingly violent. We might think that Isaiah’s vision is further away than ever before.

The Internet brings violence from the far corners of the world into our lives, but we also know that there is violence in our cities, our neighborhoods, and even, at times, in our own homes. But we also hear of hopeful and heroic actions, often by a few individuals standing in the face of darkness and offering what light they have.

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

Look for a Joyful Peace

Have you ever been surrounded by a whirlwind of activity, perhaps in the midst of family and friends, and felt a sudden whoosh of deep contentment? This is what Pope Francis refers to as a “joyful peace.” It’s the swirling flow of a dance, the soaring notes of a symphony. Too often when we imagine peace, we think that it needs to be perfect stillness. When we reflect on the life of Jesus in the Gospels, we realize he was almost always in motion: walking, preaching, teaching, healing, eating, and drinking. Even when he went off to deserted places to pray, one imagines that he was in an active communion with his Father.

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

The Tiniest Miracles in God's Creation

Christmas can become a celebration of artifice and manufactured wonders. From the dangling icicle lights along the roofline to the inflatable cartoon characters on suburban lawns, we run the risk of treating this holiday as a time of one-upping not only the neighbors but also God. But we know deep down that no factory in China can produce something as wonderful as the tiniest miracle in God’s creation.

—from The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek

The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis

Make Room for God

Those who hope in the Lord “will run and not grow weary.” We might have trouble believing these words when we’re running in a hundred different directions trying to get everything done. It’s hard not to get caught up in the frenetic activity of the season. We want this kind of boundless energy. We can find it by keeping God as our central priority and reminding ourselves that life will go on and people will still love us, even if our errands go unfinished. Cross something off today’s list and write in God instead.

—from the book Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek

A curated collection of Advent books and audios from Franciscan Media

God Holds Our World in His Hands

Pope Francis reminds us that the hallmark of a Christian should be joy and peace, even in the midst of difficult times. We can become discouraged by the state of the world, the squabbling in our families, the economic difficulties we face, and even the dissension and scandals in our church. We need frequent reminders that God still has the world in his hands, even if we can’t always see it. The world of first-century Palestine, the world into which Jesus was born, had its own conflicts and strife. But Jesus brought hope and peace to his world, and he continues to bring the same to ours. Getting back to the beginning of the life of Jesus can bring back some of the joy and innocence of childhood and remind us that a tiny faith can blossom into something much greater.

—from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

 

Advent with Saint Nicholas

It’s well known that Saint Nicholas, a sixth-century bishop, is behind our use of the secular “icon” of Christmas, Santa Claus. The legends of Nicholas involve his generosity to those in need. 

The details of Nicholas’ life are few; but legends often have a kernel of truth, and if so, he forms a worthy basis for reflection during this season of preparation for Christmas. Advent is a time to expect God’s intervention in our lives. It may be dramatic, or—more typically—quiet and perhaps not immediately evident. God may even use a bit of stealth, as the legendary Nicholas did, to gift us. May we keep the windows of our heart open!

—from the book Advent with the Saints: Daily Meditations by Greg Friedman, OFM

A curated collection of Advent books and audios from Franciscan Media

Change Your Heart

Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart, and if the heart does not change, new ideas do not last long. We all “know the mystery of salvation by the forgiveness of sin,” as Saint Luke said (1:77), because forgiveness is not something God does, it is who God is. There is probably no other way to understand God’s nature except to daily stand under the waterfall of divine mercy and then become conduits of the same flow.

—from the book Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent
by Richard Rohr

A curated collection of Advent books and audios from Franciscan Media

Advent Is a Wake-Up Call

Advent is a wake-up call to the Church, a time when we’re prodded into beginning again, taking more notice of our spiritual surroundings, once again getting going on the work of the kingdom in the world. For some of us, if we’ve neglected the spiritual side of our lives, this wake-up call is going to jar us into awareness, and at times we will want to pull a metaphorical pillow over our heads and pretend that it’s still dark. For others of us, it’s a welcome opportunity for a fresh start.

—from the book Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek

A curated collection of Advent books and audios from Franciscan Media

Pray, Give Thanks, Help Others

As we begin the season, we reflect on words from the pope about the joy of Advent and Christmas. Pope Francis sums up the heart of Christian joy in three actions: “Pray, give thanks, help others.” If we take these words to heart and bring them to life in our everyday lives, we, too, will discover the joy of Advent, a joy that we can take with us through the new year.

“The joy of Christmas is a special joy; but it is a joy that isn’t just for the day of Christmas, it is for the entire life of a Christian. It is a serene and tranquil joy, a joy that forever accompanies the Christian. Even in difficult moments, in moments of difficulty, this joy becomes peace.

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek