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by Matthew Kelly
O Emmanuel (CD)
by Fr. Bob Sherry
I have a hope for you this Advent.
Too often this time of year is simply a race from one errand to the next. Buy that gift, wrap this present, decorate that place, go to this party, visit that person, put up these lights . . .
There is so much to do.
When was the last time you didn’t do? When was the last time you took time to just be?
This Advent, I invite you to put aside the tasks piling up—the tasks that feel urgent and that are begging for your time and attention—and take a moment to just be.
This is one of my hopes behind BEST ADVENT EVER—that it will encourage you to set aside a few minutes each day for quiet prayer and reflection. Time to just be. Time to be with Jesus, who seeks you in a special way this time of year.
BEST ADVENT EVER will draw from Dr. Allen Hunt’s Bible study, The Turning Point, to help you experience the fullness of Advent rather than the deluge of holiday preparations.
This is what I hope for you this season.
I hope that you pause. I hope that you breathe. I hope that you rest. I hope that you are fed and nourished by time alone with the one who came to save you.
God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas,
Through a harmonious blend of children's voices, jazz, and sacred music, this groundbreaking album will take you on an unforgettable journey through Advent and Christmas.
Happy December! Lots of people travel to be with family during this month. Were you also together for Thanksgiving?
For many of us, our family is our most precious gift. And it takes years and sacrifice and perseverance and love and hope and joy to make a family precious. Of course, I’m not married, living by myself in northern Kentucky, while my biological family lives in Florida, Pennsylvania, northern Ohio, and northern Illinois.
As a young priest, I was expected to meet even younger people (okay, sometimes older couples, too) to help them prepare for marriage. All I had to go on was the example of my parents growing up—and I left for the seminary at age thirteen!
But from watching my parents and siblings and countless couples I’ve met over my fifty-two priestly years, I find I’m inclined to agree with Barbara DeAngelis, who wrote: “Marriage is not a noun; it is a verb. It isn’t something you get. It's something you do. It is the way you love your partner each day.”
Nothing worth having is easily gotten. Love your partner each day. Many of you are familiar with Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. So you probably know the love language of your spouse. I’m not sure that any of the five go as far as St. Paul’s ode to love in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind . . .” Or as far as Jesus, who clearly said that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for the other.
Love your partner each day. Simone Signoret wrote: “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” Stop for a moment and name some of your thin marriage threads.
You can probably do this too: tell about how long a couple has been going together or been married! The telltale signs are there. Prince Philip gave an illustration: “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.” Love your partner each day.
So, finally, as good old Honest Abe said: “Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory.”
Oh, how I wish Dynamic Catholic was around fifty years ago. Many others and I needed Dynamic Catholic's newest Catholic Moment, BETTER TOGETHER, an incredible marriage preparation and enrichment program, which we launched this month. Thanks to all our contributors who shared their marriage journeys to help bring this program to life—and who will help other couples create lasting marriages.
You never know what ordinary choices in your life are going to turn into some of the most extraordinary moments of your existence. As for me, I will never forget the hot summer day that I sat on my porch and randomly decided to turn the page of a book with a title that explained my current state of mind: Resisting Happiness. Honestly, I didn’t even know that this book was going to discuss the ideas of Catholicism or God, but I was desperate to find happiness in my life. I was raised Catholic, but the idea of having a personal relationship with God was foreign to me. I consistently chose the path that pushed my desires away from my faith, and these choices only became darker as I entered college.
I was always aware that there was a huge hole in my heart, but the culture could never fill it. The scariest part was that, eventually, I did not even think of God at all. According to me, he didn’t exist anymore; and there is no hope for happiness with that absence. Therefore, that lack of hope eventually led me to read Resisting Happiness. I often think about how this book happened to fall into my lap—how the Holy Spirit worked through my stepfather as he made the gracious decision to give me this book with the hope that I would find God again, and then how the Holy Spirit proceeded to move through me as I willingly decided to read the first chapter. From there, the fire was set, and the tears were streaming down my face. I felt God’s presence for the first time, and it was a breath of fresh air. That is the moment that changed my life forever. Each day after this, I could not wait to talk about Jesus in any way possible. I felt like it was my mission to lead everyone back to God.
As I grew in my faith, I would still think about why this book came into my life at that time. Looking back, everything makes sense, and God’s timing was proven to be perfect and intentional. I experienced a sudden loss in my life a little over a year ago, and just four months after opening that book. I lost a beloved light in my life on that day. He was my first love, but above all, he was one of my dearest friends. I don’t know where I would be right now if I had to deal with this tragedy without the guidance of God, but what I do know is that I am exactly where God needs me to be. God knew that I needed to strengthen my faith, and he placed the right resources in my life to help me do that.
Resisting Happiness changed my life in every way possible, and it inspired me to pursue a career with Dynamic Catholic. Today, I am grateful to walk into work every morning knowing that we are doing meaningful work and changing the lives of countless people. One simple decision to read a book has led me to my career, a new outlook on life, and, most importantly, a renewed relationship with God.
Want to share your story? Write us at YourStory@DynamicCatholic.com
Making time for each other isn’t that difficult if you think about how to anchor the time around already established routines at home.
Life is short, and the holidays fly by. Don’t waste this time texting your friends about how crazy your family is making you (even if it’s true). Do your best to be present to them, seek to understand and to love.
Waking up early is a war. It is a battle against the self. You are your enemy. And there is only one way to win the war: Discipline.
When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.