The Old Testament context and original Greek of this Sunday's readings are fascinating. Check out my 14-minute commentary on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time below.
In a post-game press conference last week, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers took responsibility for much of their season-ending loss.
The Chargers aren't exactly known for amazing football. Nevertheless they had a great season and a playoff appearance that was unfortunately cut short by Sunday's loss.
There are a couple things people don't know about Philip Rivers:
1) Despite a somewhat unexciting career with the Chargers, Rivers is actually one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, posting better stats than both Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.
2) Rivers is a devout Catholic who knows what it means to "begin again."
In press conferences, especially after losses, he can often be found wearing a hat or shirt with his favorite phrase on it: Nunc Coepi, in Latin, "Let us begin" or, better, "Begin again."
The saints and spiritual masters of the Church have used the phrase for years as a helpful reminder that the only difference between sinners and saints is that saints never stop trying.
As Mother Teresa said, "God has not called us to be successful, he has called us to be faithful."
Listen to my talk on the topic, titled "Begin Again" below
Remember, it's not about success. It's about faithfulness.
Be faithful to prayer.
Be faithful to the virtues.
Be faithful to the moral life.
And whenever you need to, begin again.
The social media war is well underway and people have taken their sides. Are you a Christmas hater or have you been listening to Yuletide Carols since October?
As a Catholic, the debates can be even more heated. Liturgical Lucy is apt to remind you that "Christmas doesn't start until Christmas Eve Mass ya dummy!!"
So what are we to do? Wait until December 23rd to get our Christmas trees? Opt for the latter if you want a tree with no needles. Or if you're prepared to make the switch to a fake tree. *The horror*
I think the answer is quite simple and actually found in the liturgical calendar. It's called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete (Latin for "rejoice") is the third Sunday of Advent (this year landing on December 16th). It is so called because the liturgical mood changes from awaiting the Lord who is still to come to rejoicing at his being so near. It's the Church saying "We're almoooost there!"
That doesn't quite solve the naked Christmas tree problem though. December 16th is still pretty late considering I saw my first gagged and bagged Christmas tree flying down I-35 almost two weeks ago. Consider buying the tree but waiting to decorate it until December 16th. Or decorate it with lights only and wait to put on ornaments.
Growing up, we'd get out the Advent wreath and stockings as soon as Father dug out the purple vestments (mom liked to celebrate St. Nicholas Day with chocolate coins in our stockings). The rest of the decorations came out later.
I'm not telling you what to do, but if you're like me, struggling to balance consumer America's "Christmas is right now" with the Church's "Christmas is on Christmas", I think Gaudete Sunday may be the beautiful "meeting in the middle".
Merry Christmas! ...sort of...