Hark the Herald…

Stores, offices, and all kinds of places are filled with the sound of familiar and heartening Christmas carols. Some local radio stations are all Christmas music all the time with classic and modern renditions of the secular and religious carols and songs – sometimes recorded by singing chipmunks. It becomes part of the ambiance of our Advent season; part of what readies us for the celebration of Christmas. Continue reading

From Advent to Christmas…

We are doing something special this year – single bulletin for the holidays! One issue to cover the fourth Sunday of Advent, Christmas, and the Feast of the Holy Family—and crossing into the New Year! I thought it was a good idea and a time saver for the staff who produce the bulletin—seemed like a great thing. And then I figured out I might have to write a column that spoke to the whole period. Hmmmm? Continue reading

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

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