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Advent Reflections 2019

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As we prepare for Christmas, enjoy the journey through Advent with these reflections by women who’s vocation is in the church.

First Week of Advent

Advent Reflection for December 1 – First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5/Romans 13-11-14/Matthew 24:37-44

Invitation to Prayer: As we begin the Advent journey, let us pray for the gifts of awareness of God’s plan for us, the patience to wait as it unfolds, and the readiness to act when it is revealed.

Reflection: Over lunch last week, a sister from another religious community remarked: “You’ve certainly gone though some transitions recently.” She was referring to a change in ministry that came after many years and much prayer and discernment (and impatience) surrounding God’s will. Said change also came as a complete surprise! In today’s Gospel, we’re offered assurance of Christ’s return, but no timetable. It may be tempting to see this as a chance to throw caution to the wind, or by the other extreme, adapt an attitude of apathy, It’s actually a powerful reminder to live in patience and hope, to daily walk by faith, firm in the belief that what we seek is to come – in God’s time.

Prayer: Lord, please help me be patience, but not complacent, either in my own life or in my response to the needs of others, ever mindful that “the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Closing: Bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross and, in faith, bring your worries to the Lord, ask Him for the awareness to recognize the blessings that can accompany the unexpected.

Sister Eileen Connelly is a member of the Ursulines of Cincinnati and serves as Assistant Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Mission Office

Advent reflection for December 2 –Monday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 4: 2-6, Psalm 122, Matthew 8: 5-11

Invitation to prayer: Look forward with joyful hope to the day of Christ’s birth, his Resurrection, and his return.

Reflection: The trials of life — illness, work worries, politics, disaster, age, and more — are real. They can break our hearts and tempt us to despair. But God promises they are not the end for those who love and serve Him. “The branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor.” Though we live in a day of many technological and medical wonders that allow us to pretend all is beautiful and clean, we still know the blood of war, the figurative filth of sin, and the literal “filth” of illness. We know the distress of betrayal, the loss of those dearest to us, and the sorrows of seeing others make mistakes we can’t change or lessen. The centurion in Matthew’s story has faith that Jesus will heal his servant, not because the centurion or anyone in his household is worthy, but because Jesus is God. And God has promised us joy in the heavenly Jerusalem. This Advent, ask God to strengthen your faith, like the centurion’s. Remember that the miracle of Christmas is also the promise of salvation, and pray that when your life is done, you will be welcomed with the words, “we will go up to the house of the Lord.” And when you decorate your tree and your home with evergreens, think of those other “branches” — the luster and glory, honor and splendor, of God who is our Father.

Prayer: Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom. Call me to come with you to the house of the Lord, and let me live there with You and those You love forever.

Closing: Make the sign of the cross and pray for the day you may answer, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.”

Gail Finke is a producer at Sacred Heart Radio

Advent Reflection for December 3 – Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Isaiah  11:1-1 / Luke 10:21-24

Invitation to Prayer: St Francis Xavier taught in Europe and eventually in India. Our preaching is not necessarily on distant shores but to our families, our children, our husband or wife, our coworkers. And we are called to preach not with words, but by our everyday lives.

Reflection: Over the Thanksgiving weekend if you had the chance to share time with your family did you ever ponder the wonder of that unit? In today’s reading in Isaiah: A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. Fast Forward and we think of the family we are blessed with and charged with witnessing Jesus as Isiah had prophesied. Think about all the moving parts it took for you to be sitting at the table on Thanksgiving. We are part of a family called not only to be a part of Christ’s table but to be an eyewitness to the great grace and bounty of his kingdom.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to appreciate and share with my family how grateful I am to be a part of this family. Help me witness this wonderful grace.
Closing: Begin a journal of graces you received recently, and update those graces throughout Advent. At Christmas, re-read those graces and share with your family.

Advent Reflection for December 4 – Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 25:6-10A/Matthew 15:29-37

Invitation to Prayer: Let us ask for patience and peace during this Advent season, and as in following the example of the faithful who were fed by Jesus, let us have faith to know that His love for us will fill our hearts with great joy.

Reflection: As we enter into Advent, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season. Not only is there pressure to “buy more,” but I often become consumed with the idea that I need to make Christmas the best season it can possibly be for my children… by taking them to every event, creating every Christmas-themed craft and baking all the goodies all day, every day. And while we do often have fun, sometimes the pressure to go and do makes for overtired, fussy children, and frustrated parents. And just like that, all my dreams for the perfect season come to an abrupt halt. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus multiplies the loaves and fishes. From a mere seven loaves and a handful of fish, he feeds an entire crowd and still has full baskets remaining.

This passage reminds us that when we have faith and trust in Jesus, what we already have is more than enough – and more than that, when we share the good of our faith in peace with our family, we don’t run out of joy, but are instead filled with it and have more than enough left over to share with others.

Instead of rushing to do the next great thing over the next 21 days, let us take time to just be together as a family, talk about the joy of waiting for the birth of Jesus, and rest in His perfect love for us.

Prayer: Lord, please help us to be still and to trust in your perfect love for us. Help us to make peaceful moments in our homes, our domestic churches, and bring the birth of your Son into clearer focus this Advent season.

Closing: Bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross and, in faith, ask for peace for your family and for those who have strained family relationships during the holiday season.

Jessica Rinaudo is the editor of The Catholic Telegraph. She and her husband, Mark, have four children and live in Cincinnati.

Advent Reflection for December 5 – Thursday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 26:1-6/ PS 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a/ MT 7:21, 24-17

Invitation to Prayer: Pause and prepare yourself for this time of prayer. Be attentive and call to mind any needs or desires that are within your heart, mind, or life and this time, and know that the Lord is always with you.

Reflection: Who or what is the foundation of your life? As people of faith, it may seem self-evident that our lives are to be rooted firmly on the rock of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, when we pause to consider the truth of our daily lives, it is likely that we can point to times in which we become distracted, or when we have trusted in something other than God. It is easy to seek security in material things, wealth, social status, or power rather than discerning and following God’s will, relying on God’s providential care and love. In these first days of the Advent season, we are invited to be mindful that our time on earth will someday draw to a close, and to be prepared for the coming of Christ in glory. Today, ask yourself who or what is the foundation of your life. What one or two things might you do to more fully seek and live God’s will in this Advent season?

Prayer: Good and gracious God, draw us near to you today. Help us to know and to do your will, so that our lives may be reflections of your love, poured out for us through our Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Closing: Linger in quiet prayer for a moment. Conclude by praying, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Leisa Anslinger is the Associate Director for Pastoral Life for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a wife and mother, and an author and speaker focusing on stewardship, evangelization, and pastoral leadership.

Advent reflection for December 6 – Friday of the First Week of Advent

Isiah 29: 17-24 / Matthew 9: 27-31

Invitation to Prayer: Let us open our hearts and minds to new beginnings and release the dark and gloom of bad health and suffering of the unknown.

Reflection: Everyday we should express the joy and love that flows within us. There are so many times when things go wrong, people get hurt, and bad illnesses have been diagnosed, but knowing that we have faith in Jesus, things will get better. This Advent is a time to reflect on family and open our hearts to a new beginning.

Prayer: Dear lord, help me to open my heart and fill my life with your abundant love.

Closing: To all those who need salvation, know that Jesus is here for us and will provide his love, his knowing, and his being.

Karen Cromer has been employed with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for 27 1/2 years. Married with 2 children. Enjoys being with my family and friends.

Advent Reflection for December 7 – Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26 / Matthew 9:35-19:1, SA 6-8

Invitation to prayer: Let us enter into each day of Advent with an open heart, ready to learn new mysteries of Christ’s birth. St. Ambrose, pray for us.

Reflection: “…His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned…” Christ’s heart aches for our hearts. Let’s enter in to the thought that Jesus desires your heart, knowing that it is troubled and abandoned makes Him desire it (you) all the more. He calls you into the scene of Bethlehem, to His birth, surrounded by the animals, the hay, the angels. He knows our hearts have been without a shepherd, and He longs to fill that space. The announcement of Christ’s birth broke into the everyday lives of the Magi, the shepherds, and the inn-keeper. 2000 years later, He calls us just as personally as He called each of them. Advent is a time when we can enter into the Gospel and unfold Christ’s birth story. I feel like each year I relate to a different person at the scene of His birth. Some years I feel close to the angels proclaiming Him, but this year I feel like one of the Magi. He has been proclaimed to me, and I am traveling through the desert to find Him. I’m searching and searching, sometimes I feel nervous or forsaken, but then I tune my heart back to the Star that is always there. What is the Star in your life that leads you to Christ? Maybe it’s a place, maybe it’s a person. For me, right now, it’s Mary. She is my Guiding Star, in the dead of night she is there.

Closing Prayer: Dearest Jesus, turn my heart to seek your most Precious Face. May Your mother be my guide, and lead me to your manger, where I may encounter Your most Sacred Heart. Amen.

Sarah Rogers: works in the Young Adult and Campus Ministry in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. She is a Cincy native, loves spending my time downtown, either in a historic church or historic building-turned coffee shop.

Second Week of Advent

Advent Reflection for December 8 – Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 11: 1-10/Romans 15: 4-9/Matthew 3: 1-12

Invitation to Prayer: Let us each take time to sit and reflect on the ways that we too are “crying out in the desert.” How can we strip down our lives, to the basics, like John the Baptist, to recognize our heart crying out for God?

Reflection: In our gospel today, John the Baptist is preparing people for the coming of the kingdom of heaven. People from “the whole region” were coming to him to be baptized in preparation for the coming of the Lord. But in those groups of people, John points out that some were coming for baptism, superficially. We hear that some were not authentic in rooting out the sin in their life. I am left thinking about my heart’s preparation for the Lord. How can I spend time this Advent authentically preparing my heart for the Lord? Each year I tell myself that I am going to do Advent prayers each day, so the joy of Christmas may fill my heart even more come Christmas Day. Each year I have an expectation for myself how this will be a season when I “put in the work,” with extra prayer, to prepare my heart. But it occurs to me now, maybe this year, I’ll spend Advent with one prayer to reflect on, to ask God each day, “How can my heart be a more welcoming place for the Lord when He arrives?”

Prayer: Lord, I welcome your spirit into my heart, I want to confess my sins and to clear out the burden of sin that I carry, so to make room for your coming. Help me authentically prepare my heart for Your coming.

Closing: Spend some time this Advent imaging your heart as the manager that will welcome baby Jesus on Christmas. Take time to prepare a place for Him, even more, in your life. Think about preparing your arms as the ones ready to hold our newborn Savior, Jesus, and being ready to gaze into the eyes of our Savior on Christmas morning.

Jennifer Schack is the Director of Media Relations, in the Communication and Mission Promotion Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Advent reflection for December 9 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Genisis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4; EPH 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

Invitation to Prayer: Lord, on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception when our Mother Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb, we thank you for the gift of life. Help us Lord to always have a heart filled with gratitude for the many gifts you give us.

Reflection: I’m always struck by the “blame game” played in today’s first reading from Genesis. God confronts Adam for eating from the tree that he was forbidden to eat and Adam blames Eve. So, God goes to Eve and Eve blames the serpent. It seems juvenile. In fact, I see this with my children (6 & 4) all the time. They blame the other for “starting it” and try to justify their actions. But, if I’m honest with myself and with the Lord, I do the same thing as an adult when it comes to my sin. I make excuses, rationalize what I’ve done, and maybe even procrastinate confession because my sins aren’t as serious as the sins of others. In the second reading, St. Paul talks about how much the Father loves us. That “He chose us in him…to be holy and without blemish before him.” As beloved sons and daughters, we were chosen and given a unique purpose in our lives. But sin distracts me from living out this calling as a daughter of God. So, my goal this Advent is to stop making excuses, stop justifying my sin, and instead run to confession with a contrite heart and sincerely apologize for the things I’ve done to offend the God that loves me so perfectly.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit; stir in me a desire to restore my relationship with God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Calm my fears, take away the doubt that I’m unworthy of your love and forgiveness, and fill me with peace.

Closing: I encourage all of you to seek out opportunities to receive the sacrament of reconciliation this Advent. Take time this Advent to slow down, examine your conscience, and make a good confession.

Andrea Patch is the Managing Director of Catechesis in the Office for Evangelization. She is married and loves spending time with her husband and three children.

Advent Reflection for December 10 – Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11/Matthew 18:12-14

Invitation to Prayer: Pray to be the voice in the wilderness, crying out the glad tidings of good news!
Christ, our shepherd, cares for all of His flock. Remember to be compassionate to the lambs that have gone astray, joyously welcome them into the fold, and keep them in your prayers.

Reflection: “Give comfort to my people.”

I was blessed to be raised in a very small church with a congregation of about sixty who had faith to move mountains.

Danny was a boy in my class in elementary school. He came from a poor family. His mother was wheelchair bound and his father had difficulty keeping a job. Danny’s sisters attended Sunday School at my church. One year, Danny showed up at my home Christmas morning. He spoke to my parents and told them his family had no food for Christmas day and no gifts for his little sisters. Immediately my mom was on the phone to the women of the church. They organized a week’s worth of food for the family, including a wonderful Christmas dinner, some of which had been intended for their own tables. Meanwhile my dad and my grandpa contacted the Salvation Army for gifts for the children, for Danny, and for his mother. They drove downtown on a snowy Christmas day to pick up the items. Daddy and Grandpa delivered all to the family before noon.

I have four sisters. My mom asked each of us to give up one of the gifts we had received that morning to Danny’s family. It’s funny because that’s the only part of the morning I don’t remember. I only remember this entire group of spirit-filled people coming together to “give comfort” to God’s people.

During this Advent season, how am I giving comfort?

Prayer: Father, let me be a comfort where needed. Let me be the herald of your good tidings. Drive away my fear when it comes to sharing your good news. Help me to be like Jesus, a shepherd to lead the stray lambs home. Amen.

Closing: Find an expression to use when joyful things happen… and use it often because joyful things are happening all around you.

Debbie Weitz is grateful for the community of saints who helped raise her.

Advent reflection for December 11 – Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 40: 25-31, Psalm 103 (1-2, 3-4,8 and 10), Matthew 11:28-30

Invitation to prayer: Bless the Lord, O my soul! For one hour, even for one minute, lay aside all thoughts and worries and praise God.

Reflection: We are responsible for many things, but not for everything. We can’t make our families, our coworkers, our neighbors, or anyone else be or do anything but what they are and do. We can barely make ourselves be or do anything but what we already are and already do! So thank God for what we already are, and ask God to help us do what He wants us to do. He knows everything — “Do you not know? Or have you not heard?” — and you are NOT HIM. His way is always right and true. When we trust that, we can lay down the impossible burden of responsibility for everything, and take up the light yoke of Christ.

Prayer: Christ our King and Lord, I will take up your yoke and go where you lead.

Closing: Pray Psalm 103 aloud and listen to the words. God forgives us, renews us, and loves us — haven’t you heard? Or don’t you know? Bless God and let yourself receive His love.

Gail Finke is a producer at Sacred Heart Radio

Advent reflection for December 12 –Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Zechariah 2:14-17, Luke 1:26-38

Invitation to prayer: Sit quietly next to Mary who is nearing the day of her baby’s birth and pondering in her heart the events of the last nine months.

Reflection: How good is our God that He passionately desires to dwell with us. Not only desires, but makes strident and persistent overtures to be among us. In the beginning, God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When they ate of the tree of good and evil, they ruptured the closeness they had with God and sin entered the world. But that is not where the story ends. Zachariah cries out that God will “stir forth from his holy dwelling.” Ever the ardent lover, He is coming to us, refusing to wait for us to come to Him. He again chooses His people who abandoned Him first in the garden and repeatedly in the centuries following. This first reading is paired with the familiar story of the Annunciation. How odd to call such a profound moment in salvation history “familiar.” In an astonishing movement of love, God chooses to physically dwell among His people on earth. Eat with them, walk with them, worship with them. But before Jesus can do that, He must first dwell quietly in the womb of His mother. The profundity of the relationship of a mother with her unborn child is unparalleled. She feels his movements, nourishes him with her nourishment, and finally holds in her arms the baby she has held in her womb. And yet again, even this is not where the story ends. Jesus will once again astonish His people by dwelling in every single person in baptism and then so intimately in the Holy Eucharist. How good is our God.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for coming to me over and over again. During this time of advent, focus my mind and heart to dwell with you in the stable at Bethlehem.

Closing: Make the sign of the cross and pray “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”

Sarah Ater is a wife and mother.

Advent Reflection for December 13 – Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
Isaiah 48: 12-19/ Matthew 11: 16-19

Invitation to Prayer: Let us ask God to write his loving law upon our hearts.

Reflection: I told my son to wear his ankle guards. With his history of ankle issues, the last thing he needed was to sprain his ankle during his senior year season.

Did he wear the ankle guards? No.

Did he get hurt? Yes – so seriously that the doctor thought he had jumped from a six foot high wall onto concrete.

Why didn’t he listen to me?! He knew that I loved him. He knew I had his best interests at heart. He knew that the consequences of not following my advice could be serious. He listened to me, but he didn’t choose to obey. Which makes me think…

Oh, how frustrated God must be with me – with all of us, really. Between the gifts of divine revelation and the Magisterium of the Church, God certainly does “teach [us] what is for [our] good, and lead [us] on the way [we] should go.”

And yet… Like my son, there are times when I listen, but I don’t choose to obey. And though God may, in fact, allow some good to come from the poor decisions I make, I have to wonder what more he had in store for me if I had obeyed.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, with a humble heart, I ask you to help me grow in holiness and glorify the Lord with my life.

Closing: Invite the Holy Spirit to act in your life or the life of a loved one to develop an appreciation for the wisdom and love of God’s teaching.

Toni Alander is the proud wife of Matt and mother of Will and Ed. She works for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the Department of Stewardship.

Second Week of Advent

Advent reflection for December 14 – Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11 /Matthew 17: 9A, 10-13

Invitation to Prayer: Let us ask for awareness, intention and focused prayer for those we take for granted during this Advent season.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood
That he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that John the Baptist was treated poorly because the people did not recognize who he was.

When I take that same thought process and look at my home, my domestic church, through that lens, it becomes eye-opening. Do I know who my children are? My spouse? My parents? Do I realize that God sent them to me not only for me to care for them, but because He knew that we all take part in helping one another get to heaven?

In the drudge of the daily morning routine – the “find your shoes,” and “where is your coat?” and “please eat!” – that I beg my kids to do as I check through the necessary lists to get them out the door and to school, it’s easy to lose sight of just how precious these gifts are in my life. This Advent, let us take a moment and purposely pray for those we love the most and take for granted, especially in our most challenging moments.

Prayer: Lord, please help us to be aware of how we treat those we love most in our lives. Help us to intentionally pray for them in our most difficult and most mundane moments. May you bring your love into our hearts and theirs this Advent season.

Closing: Bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross and, in faith, pray intentionally for each member of your family.

Jessica Rinaudo is the editor of The Catholic Telegraph. She and her husband, Mark, have four children and live in Cincinnati.

Advent Reflection for December 15 – Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10/ PS 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10/ Jas 5:7-10/MT 11:2-11

Invitation to Prayer: Be silent and open your mind and heart to the Lord for whom you wait, and who is always with you.

Reflection: “What did you go out to the desert to see?” Jesus speaks to the crowds who had been drawn to the desert to see John the Baptist. Some were compelled by his message of repentance and the experience of baptism in the river. Others likely went simply to see what all the fuss was about. Jesus speaks to them, and he speaks to us. At times, we are compelled and touched by the Gospel, the Good News, of Jesus. At times, we are drawn to “the desert” in which we are tempted toward things that are not of God and God’s ways. As we move more steadily toward Christmas, we are reminded that placing our faith in Jesus is supposed to make a difference in the way in which we live. At baptism, we were immersed in the life of Christ, priest, prophet, and king. We are called to be prophets, to witness to the incredible love of God, shown and shared in Jesus Christ, and in doing so, to bring healing, light, and peace to the world.

Prayer: God of all, we wait in hope, anticipating the time when your way will be the way of the world. Urge us this day to be your prophetic people, bearing witness to your great love in word and deed.

Closing: Remain quiet for a time. Invite the Holy Spirit to show you how you may bear witness to Christ’s love and resolve to do so in some way today.

Leisa Anslinger is the Associate Director for Pastoral Life for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a wife, mother, and grandmother, and an author and speaker focusing on stewardship, evangelization, and pastoral leadership.

Advent Reflection for December 16 – Monday of the Third Week of Advent
Numbers 24: 2-7, 15-17a / Matthew 21: 23-27

Invitation to Prayer: Let us open our eyes dear Lord, and learn to listen to your teaching, your love and kindness, so we can continue to follow in your footsteps.

Reflection: During this Advent, I find myself and family wanting to be more humble. Like for instance, this Christmas, it isn’t about the big toys and the newest gadget on the market. It is about giving more than receiving. How about giving some of your time to help people? For instance, my kids gathered their coats that didn’t fit them anymore for people who are cold this year. Also, they were so excited to be able to buy Christmas Gifts for children who probably may not receive, but knowing they will light up and be so grateful and happy. Always showing how humble you can be by lending a helping hand or by saying a prayer for a loved one or a stranger that has a sick person in their life or making a special meal for someone who is hungry or just because you want to.

Prayer: Blessed are those that love you, open your eyes and heart to receive the Lord’s strength and compassion.

Closing: In Advent, Open our eyes to see, Open our hearts to love and open our lives to help. There will be plenty of time to get back to the business of our lives.

Karen Cromer has been employed with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for 27 1/2 years. Married with 2 children. Enjoys being with my family and friends.

Advent Reflection for December 17- Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Genesis 49:2, 8-10 / Matthew 1: 1-17

Invitation to Prayer: Think about your lineage: the vast diversity of everyone both past and present.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, we hear The Genealogy of Jesus. This passage is usually looked at as dry or boring, just listing a bunch of names over and over again. It lists a lot of people I don’t know and can’t pronounce… everything just seems to blur together. What are we supposed to take away from this reading?

While I’m a graphic designer for the archdiocese, I also am a freelance illustrator. Recently, I’ve been working on a project for a friend who’s a youth minister. He found a devotion years ago called The Stations of the Infant Jesus by St. Alphonses Liguori – something I’ve never heard of before and the people I talk to haven’t heard of either. It walks you through 12 different stations of Jesus’s birth and childhood, something we don’t know many details about. While I was drawing each station, it was a very prayerful experience and I had the realization of Jesus’s humanity. I think we often forget that Jesus and His parents, Mary and Joseph, were just normal people; sure, they were pure and holy people, but they were a family, nonetheless. A family like today.

We’re used to seeing images of Jesus on a throne as our Heavenly King, seeing Him in the Eucharist, on the Cross, or in the clouds. It is not often that you’ll see an image of Jesus cuddling with his Mother, being fed, learning to walk with His parents, or asleep with the most precious, peaceful face. Jesus is not too high for us to reach Him. While He was fully divine, He was fully human, and he experienced what most families experience today.

In this Gospel, we see the lineage of Jesus, all the people He’s related to. We see his family, and it reminds us and gives us proof of His humanity.

Prayer: Thank you dear Lord for not only my family, but being one of your children.

Closing: Reach out to those family members you haven’t seen in a while, perhaps a text, email, or phone call letting them know, you’re thinking about them.

Emma Cassani is the graphic designer for the Catholic Telegraph. She lives in Mt. Lookout with her friend, Haley and their many plants.

Advent Reflection for December 18 – Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
Jeremiah 23: 5-8/ Matthew 1: 18-25

Invitation to Prayer: Life transitions, illnesses, a new job, moving, deciding to love another – there are many times in life when we find our self afraid. Take a moment to remember that God is with us in our fears and guiding us always.

Reflection: As I read the gospel today, I hear the angel telling Joseph, “do not be afraid,” and I think of all the times that I too have feared what I have believed God is asking of me. There are many major life moments that brought fear (having a baby, changing careers, etc.), but also small moments (sudden conviction to go visit a friend in jail, someone I had not seen in more than a decade) when I heard God’s call and fear entered into my mind shortly after. As I work to surrender myself to God as the center of my life, and pray for God to work *through* me, I know the journey will involve challenges, fears, and a greater trust in God. When fear enters my mind, these are the moments that warrant a reminder that “God is with us.”
What are the fears that you have serving the Lord? What is God asking of you that stirs up fear right now?

Prayer: Lord, help me be brave. Lord, give me courage. I desire to do your will. I want You to bring Your love to the world through me, however You see fit. Give me the courage to be the face of Christ for others.

Closing: Today spend time asking God to show you how He wants you to be courageous for Him today.

Jennifer Schack is a wife and mother.

Advent reflection for December 19 – Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25A

Invitation to Prayer: As we enter into this time of prayer, let’s look at a few verses from today’s Gospel reading.
“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”

Reflection: Finding out that you or your wife is pregnant can bring a slew of emotions. I know for me there is always an initial excitement and joy that is quickly followed by concern and fears. Will everything go smoothly throughout the pregnancy; how much weight am I going to gain with this baby; will I be able to provide for all of the needs of this baby?
Zechariah and Elizabeth were old in age and had been unable to have a baby. So, this news of Elizabeth being pregnant was shocking to Zechariah. But, the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid”. These four simple words bring consolation and peace. Whenever I worry or doubt, I come back to these words in scripture, “Do not be afraid”. The beautiful thing about this faith that I have been given, is that I know that the Lord will never leave me. I know that He has a plan for my life and that I simply need to trust Him and His plan for my life.

Prayer: Help us Lord to make room for the birth of Your Son in our lives and in our hearts. Help us to prepare our hearts well to receive Him.

Closing: In the final hustle and bustle before Christmas, take some time to reflect on your fears and doubts. Take them to the Lord in prayer and hand them over to Him, so that you can fully participate in the joy of the season.

Andrea Patch is the Managing Director of Catechesis in the Office for Evangelization. She is married and loves spending time with her husband and three children.

Advent reflection for December 20 –Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Isaiah 7:10-14, Luke 1:26-38

Invitation to prayer: Make the sign of the cross and pray to the Holy Spirit for understanding of the great things God has done and continues to do.

Reflection: In today’s first reading, the Israelites are in dark times as their political enemies close in on them. Isaiah gives King Ahaz an open invitation to make a large request to God, as “deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!” In his hardness of heart, Ahaz refuses to make any request at all, large or small. Greatly perturbed and exasperated by the king’s humility before God, Isaiah instead makes a prophecy of the greatest act God will do. “The virgin shall conceive a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” This must have been a very confusing prophecy for those listening to hear. How would the child born of a virgin at some unspecified time save the Jewish people, let alone the confusion of how such a thing could be possible. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he announced the coming of a baby in her virginal womb, proclaiming that the baby will be heir to the throne of David and have an unending kingdom. In His time on earth, Jesus will announce the coming of the kingdom as the freedom from sin and restoring the closeness of God with His people. This is the greatest mercy.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for coming to set me free from my sins. Grant me the grace to draw close to your Heart and remain their forever.

Closing: Make the sign of the cross and pray “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”

Sarah Ater is a wife and mother.

Advent Reflection for December 21 – Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
Song of Songs 2:8-1, Psalm 33, Luke 1:39-45

Invitation to prayer: Sit in a quiet place and imagine yourself as Elizabeth opening the door to her cousin/kinswoman Mary.

Reflection: I thought a knock at our door last night was someone stopping by for a proof my husband brought home from work. Instead, it was a group of Christmas carolers – children, parents, and even a toddler in a stroller, all of them draped with blinking Christmas lights. It’s been years since we’ve had carolers! We jumped out to the poor to stand in the cold, without our coats on, to hear them sing “Jingle Bells” at the top of their lungs, before skipping down the sidewalk to the next house. So often when there’s a knock at the door, it’s bad news. But not last night. And as Elizabeth found, a knock at the door can be the best news ever brought – such good news that her unborn baby jumped for joy. As the Psalmist reminds us, the voice calling out for us may be the most beautiful voice ever heard. Even better news – God calling out to us may himself be leaping for joy.

Prayer: Our Lord and Savior, help us welcome everyone who comes to our door as we would greet You, with joy.

Closing: As you imagine yourself welcoming Mary and Our Savior to your door, allow yourself to think what it means that they didn’t come to her (or us) only out of pity. They rejoiced, and rejoice, to come.

Gail Finke is a producer at Sacred Heart Radio

Fourth Week of Advent

Advent Reflection for December 22nd, the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 7:10-14, Romans 1:1-7 / Matthew 1:18-24

Invitation to Prayer: Let us ask for patience and a willingness to be open to God’s will in our lives this Advent season.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Mary “was found with child through the Holy Spirit,” and Joseph, unwilling to expose her to shame decided to quietly divorce her before the Lord appears to him in a dream and tells him what’s happening.

How scared Mary must have been, for in accepting God’s will to become the mother of Jesus, she could lose her husband, her family – her very place in society. But she bravely said “yes” anyway.

I couldn’t help but think of a time in my own life more than five years ago. After struggling to conceive, God graced my husband and I with a little girl. Again, we struggled, and again, the Lord was merciful and sent us our second daughter. We were grateful for our two beautiful children, especially since a doctor once told me I could likely expect none.

Never underestimate God’s plan, though. There I was with a three-year-old at my knee and an 11-month-old in my arms when I noticed I just didn’t feel right. Despite all the physical signs that pointed to pregnancy, I adamantly denied this possibility. However, a pregnancy test turned up immediately positive…and I burst into tears. While my shocked husband remained happy and upbeat at the discovery, I questioned how we could manage this with two others so small.

At my first ultrasound, we soon learned that baby number three was healthy and fine… and so was baby number four, nestled right there together in my womb. To say that we were terrified is probably the understatement of the year.

But amidst the fear of the future, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph stood as shining examples of saying yes in the face of seeming impossibility and incredulity: a pro-life message from across the centuries inspiring parents to courage in their times of uncertainty.

Prayer: Lord, please help us to be aware of how we can be more pro-life in our personal lives this Advent season. May we look to Mary and Joseph for guidance in accepting the difficult parts of parenthood, or as we struggle with our own parents. Give us patience to trust in God’s will for our lives.

Closing: Bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross and, in faith, pray intentionally for your children and your parents.

Jessica Rinaudo is the editor of The Catholic Telegraph. She and her husband, Mark, have four children and live in Cincinnati.

Advent Reflection for December 23 – Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24 10/ Psalm 25:4-5AB, 8-9, 10, 14/ Luke 1:57-66

Invitation to Prayer: Pause in stillness. Put aside all anxiousness and invite the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with wonder at the desire God has to be with you and with all of humanity.

Reflection: Zechariah had many long months of silence in which to ponder the meaning of his wife Elizabeth’s pregnancy and to anticipate the birth of his son. He had waited, no doubt wondering what God had in store for them, especially this child who seemed destined for something special. In the months of waiting, it seems Zechariah had a change of heart, and in the moment he named his child John according to the angel’s message, his mouth was opened and he was able to speak words of praise of God. Most of us have moments in which we wait, patiently or not so patiently, for the Lord to break through, to change a situation, bring healing, peace, and new life. In our waiting, we are called to be open to change as well, to allow our minds and hearts to embrace an unknown future, sure of God’s care and mercy. As our Advent time of waiting draws to a close, let us place our trust in God who desires to be one with us so deeply that God became incarnate in the child Jesus. May Christ be born in us anew in this holy season.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to make your will my own true desire and to live according to your word.

Closing: Be still and ponder the wonder of God’s love. In your final preparations for Christmas, return to this sense of wonder whenever you lose sight of the reason for this season of grace.

Leisa Anslinger is the Associate Director for Pastoral Life for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a wife, mother, and grandmother, and an author and speaker focusing on stewardship, evangelization, and pastoral leadership.

Advent Reflection for December 24 – Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16

Invitation to prayer: Dearest infant Jesus, today is our last day of waiting, help us remember thy coming everyday not just during the Christmas season.

Reflection: The proclamation from Zechariah seems to cry out after years of agony, generations of agony. Going through a litany of promises, to me it almost sounds like he’s assuring himself that this was all worth it. I just heard a hymn at an Advent Lessons and Carols: “Adam lay ybounden, bounden in a bond; four thousand winter thought he not too long. And all was for an apple, an apple that he took; As clerkes finden written in their book. Ne had the apple taken been, the apple taken been, ne had never our Lady Abeen heavene Queen. Blessed be the time that apple taken was, therefore we moun singen, Deo Gracias!”

I love this hymn. All of Zechariah’s hurt, the generations before him, can all be traced to Adam; all of your hurt can be traced to Adam and the apple. We are so close to the most precious midnight hour! The apple wasn’t all for naught. We get to celebrate this holy Babe, and we get to honor our Mother who is Queen. During the bleakness of winter, some things can seem pointless to me, but if God did not leave Adam’s sins all for naught, I must believe He’ll do the same with mine. “I’m so glad that Jesus was born in a stable. Because my soul is so much like a stable. It is poor and in unsatisfactory condition because of guilt, falsehoods, inadequacies and sin. Yet I believe that if Jesus can be born in a stable, maybe he can also be born in me.” -Dorothy Day

 Closing Prayer: Blessed Mother, the hour of your infant Son is close at hand. Help us to enter this new Christmas season with trust in His love and mercy. Amen.

Sarah Rogers: works in the Young Adult and Campus Ministry in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. She is a Cincy native, loves spending my time downtown, either in a historic church or historic building-turned coffee shop.

Advent Reflection for December 25 –Wednesday, the Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas Day)
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18)

Invitation to Prayer: Let us take time today, amid the joyful chaos of time with family and friends, to remember the greatest gift off, the promise of ages, Jesus Emmanuel.

Reflection: It happens every year. The Halloween treats have barely been consumed when the black and orange decorations, pumpkins and goblins are replaced by red and green, silver and gold, reindeer and snowmen that appear everywhere we go. By Black Friday, we’re greeted with dreams of a White Christmas and dancing and prancing to Jiggle Bell Rock when we turn on the radio. Then, all of the sudden, Dec. 26 arrives and it’s all over. No more cheery holiday music, and discarded fir trees appear on the curb.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. We just need to remind ourselves that on this joyous, holy day we’ve received the most incredible gift – the gift of God’s love, His son, our role model, our light, our salvation. We’re given this gift every year, yet in our human frailty, we sometimes tend to let it fade almost as quickly as the secular holiday trappings.

Just a week before Christmas this year, the Mission Office received holiday greetings from one of our missionaries who serves in Nepal. He wrote, in part: “…it is indeed a time for us to rejoice, knowing that by the grace of God, and with your prayers and blessings and sacrifices, much joy has come into the lives of many in Nepal.”

A Maryknoll Missioner, he has served in Nepal for more than 30 years. He writes that he has seen great evil in the form of churches being bombed and set on fire and people persecuted for sharing their faith. Yet, for him, there is hope in the people he encounters daily: “We pray and work and live and exist in situations that will bring happiness and joy and laughter, and sometimes sorrow and pain and conflict, but out of this there is always an opportunity to experience the love and compassion of God.”

Our missionary has come to recognize God’s gift through his life and ministry. That same grace is there for each of us. All we need to do is accept it.

Prayer: Loving and gracious God, thank you for sending your Son to live among us to guide us and be our model of servant leadership. Grant us the faith and courage to live our humanity as He did.

Closing: Bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross and, in faith, ask for the grace to model Jesus’ love, compassion and openness in all of your encounters and actions.

Sister Eileen Connelly is a member of the Ursulines of Cincinnati and serves as assistant director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Mission Office.

Other Advent Resources

For the Ultimate Guide to Advent click here

For The Advent Calendar for Events throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, click here


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