I recently asked a mentor in ministry to recommend a retreat emcee. Rather than replying with the qualifications of her most accomplished colleagues or students, she named two people who could lead the retreat “without getting in the way.” As I recall who broadened and deepened my understanding of the Catholic faith, they are either people without social and educational distinctions, or people committed to the hard, ongoing work of putting their qualifications and education at the service of their baptismal call to live the Gospel. They are people like John the Baptist, free to actively point others not toward themselves but toward Christ. John the Baptist’s preparation for ministry in the desert is particular to his circumstances. Still, his presence to others without getting in the way and service that intentionally invites Christ into his efforts is a model for ministry.
It’s no secret that Advent will look different this year than in years past. Take advantage of the extra time at home with your family to intentionally prepare your hearts for the birth of Christ. Below are four ways to celebrate Advent in your home.
We at the McGrath Institute for Church Life want to observe and celebrate Thanksgiving in a special way. On our radio show and podcast, Church Life Today, we shared five passages about the Eucharist and thanksgiving, with reflections to guide us into rediscovering how an exchange of thanksgiving occurs in the Sacrament of Sacraments. We know, of course, that the holiday Thanksgiving is not itself about the Eucharist. But this civic holiday is probably the closest in character to our religious holidays, and all the more because it is a feast dedicated to giving thanks. For those who revere and adore the Eucharist, we know that being transformed by that particular and unique “thanksgiving” should shape and transform our entire lives.
We are in the midst of a season that compels us to express our gratitude, and, as Catholics, we are always called to give gratitude to God, especially as we participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. In Scripture, St. Paul exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), to give thanks always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20).
The story of “doubting” Thomas (cf. John 20:19–31) is a gospel passage that can make people cringe. This passage is, sadly, often interpreted as though it were contrasting reason, on the one hand, with faith (or gullibility), on the other. For example, one very influential atheist, Richard Dawkins, refers to the story of doubting Thomas in The Selfish Gene to argue Christians think the “greatest virtue” of faith is that it is “blind” and “doesn’t need evidence” at all (330).