The calendar says New Year’s Eve; for the church, it is the Feast of the Holy Family.  Both represent the entanglement of endings and beginnings, link the past and the future, open gaps between what is known and understood and what is unknown and seemingly incomprehensible.  Family, no matter how it is defined, is central to life and to Catholicism.  And like all things in life, family is much more than the portrayal of an infant in the arms of doting parents.  “Family” summons a host of images, emotions, memories and celebrations.  It embodies both a sense of belonging and an identity.  It courts the inherent tension between stability and change, growth and interdependence, possibility and loss.   Family is foundational to humanity; it is the reality shared across centuries and continents, generations and decades.

It seems simple, but “Family” is complexity itself.  It proffers security and comfort as well as challenges and tensions.  The Feast of the Holy Family reminds  that every family has relationship issues and challenging problems, and these extend to every generation,  those past and those to come.  Because after all, “family” embodies every paradox: birth and loss, joy and sorrow, clarity and confusion, hope and despair.  And yet, family somehow defines humanity.

There is a simplicity to the tradition of the Feast.  It is a reminder of who we are, who we want to be, who we can be.  It is a reminder that life is difficult, and love is profound.  It is an invitation to be loved, to love, and to believe that choosing love is possible.  There is a richness to the Feast: it is a reminder of the treasure of each human life, of the sacredness of bonds and the beauty of being.  There is an irony to the Feast: in a world of individualism and consumerism, the Feast proclaims togetherness and purpose.

There is an intriguing juxtaposition to New Year’s Eve and the Feast of the Holy Family. Each is about endings and beginnings; each is about change and reflection.  Each is an expression of hope.  And somehow, each is a reminder to take that extra moment and press “reset” to begin again.  Happy New Year!







There is a kind of magic folded into December days, a whimsical sense that anything seems possible.  Life has those moments, too, tucked between all the challenges.  They are the spaces that we would like to, somehow, stay in forever: cozy, safe, warm.  Christmas offers us that moment to hold onto to, to sustain us.  But it also encompasses the full circle of what it means to be human.  Christmas is the reminder that nothing stays the same, that treasures are found in the mundane and that each journeying is simply part of what it means to be human.

Beneath the tree, the Nativity: parents and child, rejected and received, surrounded by the simple supports and conscious of interdependence, interconnectedness. Theirs is a world of the miraculous, of the kindnesses of strangers and the brokenness of others.  Identities may be defined differently centuries later, but the essential elements are the same: humanity is home to incredible goodness and capable of such dreadful violence.  There is tenderness in the lacing of parent and child, tenderness in the onlookers, compassion in the innkeeper.  The story is a reminder of who we are and how we can be better.  It’s elements are not culture-specific unless we determine that: it is a story of great hope if we allow it to be.

It is also the story of change: the changes that occur everyday with or without conscious awareness.  Somehow, where Christmas seems to arouse nostalgic memories, there is the deeper truth ot growth and change, rich inescapable change.  Living Life demands a level of change.  Everyday, there are changes within us and before us, around us, and above and beneath us.  Change is the vibrancy of being, a testimony to the awareness that nothing can stay the same and yet everything is somehow connected.

Christmas then is really about connections and compassion, change and growth.  It requires courage and openness, genuine hope and the belief that Life does offer promise.  Beyond all the holiday facade lies that truth, that very simple truth.  And after all, that is what each new life, each child brought into this world offers as well.

Christmas is a celebration of the human and the divine, a recognition that there is more to the simplest of scenes and something simple behind the most ornately staged.  Christmas personifies the human experience; maybe it is time for us to personify Christmas as well.  Merry Christmas!






The final weeks of Advent: embedded in the palpable anticipation, layers of stress, strings of tasks, are the singular moments that shape reality and memory.  It is about so much more than the waiting and so much more than the wanting.  Those moments of exquisite clarity make all the rest possible.  And in a world of rapid change and bitter acrimony, those are the moments that must define and then sustain.

There is the laughter of a grandparent; the exchange of tender glances; the random act of kindness of strangers. Doors held open; messes swept up; singing in the aisles of churches and stores.  Pausing over those moments is a testimony to something beyond self. It is an invitation to see the profound kindness and respect for one another that can be birthed in this season.  It is an invitation to practice as well as receive those kindnesses.  It is the sense that other can matter more than self, and it is at least as enriching to self as it is to the other to put someone or something before self-gratification. It is the belief that we exist in tiny ensembles orchestrating performances with each experience, interaction, within a day.  It is the awareness of the very strengths and limits of each person in each situation.  It is believing that each of us is doing the very best we can with what we have at the moment.  And it is the trust that, beyond that,  there is the tenderness of a God who profers moments of joy even if we are not quite always, or ever, aware of the tiny miracles.

Advent, especially this third week,  unabashedly offers that whisper of joy.  And somehow it confides the Nativity to come.  Because there, in the story of childbirth and revelation, each life finds a mirror.  Looking into that mirror means being willing to embrace a whole new view of the world….and of self .  It means being able to see the moments of joy even in the suffering and sadness which characterizes human life.  It is about seeing the bigger picture and believing in more.




There is a certain grace in the full attention of a friend, a moment of recognition  or the simplicity of genuine greeting.  And in many ways, that is what the adoration of the Eucharist is about: the mysterious moments that linger with wonder, the time apart from the frenzy of work and life, the sense of trust and confidence in the experience of the universe, the experience of other.

Presence is about more than physical location; it is about openness to the reality of a moment.  Eucharistic adoration is like that: it is about taking a moment, a few minutes, an hour, to know that there is something beyond self in this complicated universe.   It is about arriving in a quiet church to real silence, the kind that is chosen and shared rather than the accidental and awkward silence.  It is about the odd assumption that we are doing something for God and somehow discovering what God is doing for us.  It is about believing that being in the presence of God, in sacred space, matters; that those moments and hours open unexpected hopes and understandings, even empower a person to strive to become better.

It is physically acknowledged in the monstrance, the Eucharist encased in a piece so particularly designed for visibility.  And yet, the host itself so humbly made by human hands, so central, a subtle reminder of the simplicity of a God who is at the center of everything, always.  And often, a reminder of how easily distracted the surrounding grandeur can be.  That time of choice, of physical presence to one another, is a time of deepening awareness.

And so the Eucharist itself, a gift of presence through generations, actually invites greater presence to one another, greater awareness of the needs of others and the very very difficult nature of human life.  In the silence of Eucharistic adoration, compassion and  empathy are born and shaped, sanctioned and satisfied.  Presence means daring to believe and to become.  For some, that gift arrives in those quiet hours before the Eucharist.

Eucharistic adoration is a rare gift.  It opens up a network of prayer and communication that inspires more.  It provides a physically comforting space in a world of suffering and pain, and it serves always as a reminder that no one is truly alone.  God is waiting. God is present.



world of suffering, doubt and pain.  It


Advent begins softly, slips in beneath th pace of shoppers and holiday  preparations.  It arrives gently with the reminder of a God who is trustworthy, and it arrives warmly with the tenderness of a single flame on the Advent wreath.

Advent is the beginning, the inception of a new year, the reminder of  human origins.  There is the sweetness of waiting, a testimony to the gestation period we all share.  There is the anxiety of anticipation, that mix of hope and fear.  And these are the emotions, the experiences, that we all share.  And there is the magic of story, the narrative of history unique to each of us and common to all of us.

If allowed, Advent offers so very much.  It requires, in the midst of frantic holiday frenzy, moments of attentive quiet.  It demands remembering the old story in order to see the new story, and it is a reminder to old and young that there is so very much to welcoming new beginnings no matter who you are or what is happening.

Advent is the promise of roots and wonder of trust.  Advent is the glimpse of the future and the invitation to embrace the past. Most of all, Advent is NOW.  It is here, and we are part of it.  Advent makes Christmas possible, and so each of us becomes part of that possibility.