Podcast Episode 004: Intentional Advent

Winter Panorama

“As a first-year novice spending Advent at the abbey, I simply felt calmer than I ever had. I realized that this is what Advent can look like if I’m more intentional.” —Frater Johnathan Turba, O. Praem.

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. This time of year, everything in our culture screams Christmas. But what about Advent—a time of prayer and preparation?

After all, the season of Christmas actually begins on Christmas day, but these wonderful weeks beforehand are meant for us to prepare, intentionally, for the celebration of the Mystery of God Incarnate.

As we look at our lives, how are we preparing for the coming of our Lord? What does prayer and contemplation look like for us during these extraordinarily busy days? Take a few minutes to reflect on the importance of intentional prayer and silence during this sacred season.

Listen Now

More opportunities to celebrate the season of Advent at St. Norbert Abbey »

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2016


By Sr. Shawn Madigan, CSJ, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor (Emerita) of Theology
St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota

‘God is with us.’

—Matthew 1:23

(Really? Yes, Really!)

Sr. Shawn Madigan, CSJ

Sr. Shawn Madigan, CSJ

It’s a familiar Sunday gospel. We hear it every year.
This Advent Sunday, “God’s with us” so don’t fear.

The story has a couple, faithful woman and loving man.
Their love includes a tension that neither one had planned.

Some angel then appears. The child is Godlike blessing.
The Spirit of God was there so no more worried guessing!

Well, Mary seemed at peace but Joseph’s love was confused it seems.
There’s a Law his love ignores. Then Joseph has his dreams!

I know how this story continues. Soon all the angels are singing
“Glory to God and peace to all” throughout the heavens ringing.

I don’t envy this season’s pageants with children living the parts.
Yet I live in a real world. It’s not easy to change human hearts.

Look at the homeless people, hungry children at food pantry doors,
A growing gap between rich and poor, hate causing so many wars!

Whole countries are disappearing! Just look at the daily destruction.
If “God is really with us,” where’s the good construction?

I know this sounds like Scrooge, with the Spirit of hope long gone.
Can I believe God’s with us ? Is God’s love continuing on?

Yes, Really!

Well, let’s start with angels, the kind that does not have wings.
Who do you love and who loves you as you celebrate “Christmas” things?

Who can still move your heart to become something more than you seem?
Aren’t these some angels who urge even your heart to dream?

Where are Mary and Joseph whose love changed their way of seeing?
They might be you whenever your love makes you a kind of new Be-ing.

Today’s story is not just for children to act out in their pageant years.
Today’s story is for adults who have lived through joys and tears.

Today is about God’s dream for you as it was and always will be.
Mary, Joseph, God’s story of love includes us all, you see.

Emmanuel, God is with us, in every age and nation.
YOU are God’s continuing story, a unique part of transformation.

Can you still hope God’s with us? That’s a message for today.
Are you becoming God’s dream? For that, let us all pray!

An Advent Prayer

O come Emmanuel. Open our hearts live the unique dream God has for us and for all! Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

More opportunities to celebrate the season of Advent at St. Norbert Abbey »

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent 2016

By Diann Wimmer

Norbertine Associate, St. Norbert Abbey

Diann Wimmer

Diann Wimmer

Prepare the Way of the Lord:
Imagine profound PEACE.
Live in HARMONY and HOPE.
Be filled with FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT.

The Scripture readings of the second Sunday of Advent again prove that the Bible prefers to “talk in images.” Today we hear the stories of animals, trees, deserts, mountains, sandals, locusts, wild honey, water, and fire. Each story with its images holds the secret of a deep spiritual reality.

For example, imagine a shoot that sprouts from a stump. With surprise, we see new life—an awakening from what seemed dead. Like the shoot, God’s action comes forth when least expected and when the world is troubled with violent death. But God brings life, love, and light to a dark world.

Could this shoot, this promise of new life, be the story of Christmas?

Also imagine animals that, by instinct, are hostile and aggressive, but now exist in harmony and peace: the lion and the lamb or the leopard and the kid. This reading reminds one of the peaceable kingdom of the Garden of Eden. But our world suffers disorder and war and needs to hear of the proclamation of Psalm 72: “Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.”

Could the coming of this impossible peace be the promise of Christmas?

Then imagine the Glory of Sion, the Holy Mountain, a center for a new world where people of all nations come together. A new exodus where people from north, south, east, and west move as ONE, singing with one accord and with one voice.

Could this harmony among all nations be the invitation of Christmas?

Imagine living in the desert, eating locusts and wild honey. With such discipline and solitude comes the encounter with the true self and with a merciful God. From this desert air, a voice cries out, “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” Indeed the prophet emerges filled with the presence of God and the courage to preach conversion of heart.

Could this desert-solitude help to prepare our hearts for Christmas?

Finally, imagine reaching down and loosening the sandals of a great and gracious person, one who is prophet and Messiah. John the Baptist declares his unworthiness and steps aside to announce “the one who is coming after me.” This one will baptize with FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT.

Could humility be the path to acceptance of FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT this Christmas?

Therefore, the readings of this second Sunday of Advent engage our imagination. The images of stumps, animals, mountains, deserts, locusts, wild honey, water, and sandals all hold a deep meaning for our preparation of Christmas. If we listen with open hearts, we may hear the invitation to the awakening of new life, to unbelievable peace, to harmony among nations, and to solitude and humility that show the way to FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT. May God bless us with these spiritual gifts.

Closing Prayer

We come, dear God, to prepare our minds, hearts, and lives
for the celebration of Christmas.
Let us imagine profound PEACE.
Let us live in HARMONY and HOPE.
And, in your mercy, fill us with FIRE and the HOLY SPIRIT.

More opportunities to celebrate the season of Advent at St. Norbert Abbey »

Pin It on Pinterest