I was recently invited to be a guest on Church Life Today, the McGrath Institute’s radio program and podcast, where I chatted with my colleague and show host Lenny DeLorenzo about Advent music and Christmas movies. Here is my personal list (emphasis on personal!) of 25 films that I watch nearly every holiday season. For the most part, I’ve ranked them in an order that contains a sort of ‘progressive solemnity’—moving from vaguely holiday-adjacent movies toward those that delve deeply into ‘the meaning of Christmas.’
This Thursday, December 17, the Church will begin praying what are known as the “O Antiphons” each evening during Vespers, or Evening Prayer. Outside of Vespers, the O Antiphons are more familiar in their adapted form as the verses for the quintessential Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
Hard as it is to imagine, the season of Advent and the new liturgical year is just days away. As we are reminded each year, Advent is a season when Christians throughout the world rededicate themselves to waiting in hope. We anticipate the coming of Christ, the light of the world, who scatters the darkness of sin and shatters the bonds of death. We prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming in history at Christmas; we ponder the ways that he comes to us in mystery even now, especially in the Eucharist; and we look forward to his coming in glory at the end of time.
Today the Church observes the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, better known as All Souls’ Day. The entire month of November is dedicated to remembering, honoring, and praying for all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, entrusting them to God’s mercy and love.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, a man better known simply as Padre Pio (1887–1968). Even before his death, Padre Pio was a source of fascination for many people, and stories of his remarkable holiness and supernatural gifts abound, some of which are truly astonishing, some of which border on outlandish, but all of which inspire us to take a closer look at this humble Capuchin friar, who was so intimately united with Christ in his heart, so closely conformed to Christ in his soul, that even his own body was also conformed to Christ, marked with the wounds of Christ’s Crucifixion.