New Way of the World

c-brown-christmas-treeI wasn’t too sure what to expect for my first Christmas in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Certainly, the slum in which I lived was devoid of any of the commercial excess.  There were no malls, no black Friday, none of the things mark our Advent season.  Occasionally, you could hear Christmas carols, traditional and tribal, float out of one of the wood sheds/tin roofed stores.  But most the familiar signs and markers that Christmas was coming were missing. Continue reading

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Celebrating Christmas

crowds-at-mass

If your parish is like mine, Christmas Mass can be a bit crowded with most of the Masses standing-room-only and the parking situation about the same. So this Christmas, if you’re frustrated by crowded Masses, or packed parking lots, take a moment and pray for Catholics who long for the Eucharist. Our brothers and sisters for whom public celebration of our Holy Day makes them targets of additional persecution. May our Christmas prayers and wishes be with them.

Welcoming at Christmas

the-hospitality-of-abThe days of Christmas are quickly approaching, your shopping isn’t finished (…. maybe not started!), the end-of-year activities at work are reaching deadlines, the tree is not up, the kids have a school Christmas play tomorrow night (… “Mom, is my costume ready?”…what costume?), the toy drive at the church is ready to wrap and deliver packages (I think we signed up to help as a family? …. maybe?), and…and… oh my gosh, the in-laws are coming to stay with us this Christmas. Even amidst the momentary panic of “how will all this get done,” there is an ever-present awareness that we want to be hospitable, warm, and welcoming – not only to the in-laws but to all who come to our door during the holidays. Continue reading

All very simple

christmas_morningThere is an idea in Christian thought about the “thin veil,” that the presence of God is there before us, behind us, all around us – veiled by only the thinness of our attention. It has been that way since the Spirit of God hovered over the primordial waters and brought forth life. It continues unto our days and nights. There are times when the veil melts away and we sense God in our lives, in our dreams, and in the world around us. Certainly, St. Francis of Assisi understood the all-abiding presence of God in nature, in his brothers and sisters, and in so many ways. Continue reading

Anticipation

Joseph_and_Mary_arrive_at_BethlehemI think it’s fair to say that there is no other day that brings as much anticipation as Christmas Eve. As a child, it’s hard to sleep. You just want it to be Christmas morning — preferably while it’s still dark so the tree looks magical as the lights cast a glow on the presents that weren’t there when you went to bed. You can’t wait to open them, but you don’t want to spoil the beauty and the surprise yet either. It is a time full of mystery and excitement.

As a parent, you’re running full-tilt getting everything ready. You’re not only wrapping gifts until the wee hours of the morning, you’re making sure you’ve got everything you need from the store. You’re thinking of the guests who will be arriving for dinner (or the trip you’ll be making to the in-laws) the cleanliness of your home, and the hope of getting enough sleep that you won’t be in too much of a zombie stupor to assemble the toys you got your little ones. Continue reading