The secret to an intentional Christmas

Kendra Tierney

Kendra Tierney I was surprised by the wide variety of reactions that bubbled within me when I read Kendra Tierney’s post about how she’s not giving her kids toys for Christmas. In about three seconds, I went from “THAT’S NUTS!” to “It sort of makes sense but I would never do that” to “Maybe I should do that” to “I TOTALLY NEED TO DO THAT!” After I thought about it a bit more, I decided that the specifics of the idea might not be the right fit for us (at least not for this year),... Read More

Why I’m going to keep letting Santa and the Tooth Fairy ruin my life

A rough trip down from the attic leaves us with a statue of Mary, Jesus, and St. John the Baptist.

My daughter told me that she has a loose tooth this morning, and her words struck dread into my heart. Right now, I just barely have some holiday cheer going on up in here. We’re actually having a nice Advent instead of having the weeks leading up to Christmas be the stress-fest that they usually are — but we’re hanging on by a thread. I’m like a woman trying to walk a tightrope while juggling a lit Advent wreath with Christmas tree ornaments and a baby. It’s all going fine now, but the slightest breeze could send this... Read More

An Advent song for you

A huge thanks to the folks who found that song for me. If you didn’t catch my post asking about it, I was trying to find a choral piece I heard sung at an Advent Mass in 2010. I had no idea what it was called or even what any of the words were, yet it clearly spoke truths about preparing for the Lord and the real meaning of Christmas. To my great delight, I now know that it is Thomas Tallis’ O Sacrum Convivium. You can hear it here: The words are in Latin, originally written by Thomas Aquinas. The scholar and Doctor of the Church writes... Read More

Christmas, sorrow, and a song

I’ve been meaning to ask this for two years, but have never gotten around to it. Now seems to be as good of a time as any: Can anyone tell me what this song is? (If you can’t see the player, here is a link to the recording.) During Advent of 2010 I had EWTN on the TV in the background as I did some Christmas decorating (read: I was probably surfing the web while the kids dug through ornament boxes) and it played a live broadcast of a Mass that was, if I recall correctly, at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Whatever... Read More

Ordinary Time: A Revelation

Was your Christmas less than picture perfect? Then you’re going to love this guest post by one of my favorite writers, Simcha Fisher. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with the liturgical calendar, Ordinary Time is the liturgical season outside of specific liturgical seasons like Lent, Advent, Christmas, etc. The Christmas season just ended, and now we’re currently in Ordinary Time.) I’m still sweeping up pine needles from the Christmas tree. I don’t mind, because unlike every other mess, this one has a definitive... Read More

Willful awe

I’ve been reading books about mountain climbing lately. (As a lazy homebody, I’m fascinated by people who like to leave the house and be cold and climb things.) In a memoir about a Himalayan climb, one author wrote a stirring description of his trip into a Buddhist monastery at the base of a mountain. This author had a mild anti-religious streak, so I took notice when he expressed awe and reverence upon witnessing their blessing ritual. It reminded me of the way my friends and I used to view some foreign belief systems when I was younger.... Read More

Baby steps for celebrating Advent: 24 super simple ideas

With over 100 comments to my post about Advent, you really came through with some wonderful ideas about taking “baby steps” into Advent! As always, I read every single comment, and I thought it might be helpful to others if I posted some examples of all the great ideas everyone shared. For my fellow easily-overwhelmed people, let me emphasize that the idea is that you’d just choose one or two of these. I only included tons of options since different things work for different people. PRAYERS Many people referred to saying daily... Read More

What are some “baby steps” for celebrating Advent?

I hate to admit this, but I’ve come to associate Advent with EPIC FAIL. (And preparing the way for the glorious birth of Christ, of course. That and EPIC FAIL.) Every year for the past three years I’ve tried lead my family in some of the rich traditions that this beautiful part of the liturgical year offers. And every year I end up getting overwhelmed and giving up around the second Sunday, the Advent decorations peeking out from the clutter on our mantle now serving primarily as a reminder that I don’t have my act together. As... Read More

Breathing with the Body of Christ

As I mentioned the other day, until recently I didn’t understand what Advent was all about. Actually, I didn’t completely understand what Lent, Easter or Christmas were all about either. The significance of the different seasons of the liturgical year was one of the last things that I researched in my long road from atheism to Catholicism; I had so many other tough concepts to explore that figuring out why Catholics didn’t eat meat on Fridays was the least of my worries. But I went through the motions anyway. In 2006, before my... Read More

What child is this?

Every time I hear the song What Child is This?, I feel haunted. It started back in 2005, when I was still researching Christianity and not sure that I believed its claims. I’d be driving around, yapping into my cell phone, glaring at people who drove too slowly as I rushed to buy presents I should have bought weeks before, and then I’d catch sight of some nativity scene and all my racing thoughts would stop. For just a moment, I’d remember that I had a question to answer far bigger than what I should get my husband for Christmas. During... Read More

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