December 14th – Third Monday of Advent

Posted on December 14, 2015 by - Advent Reflections

14Today’s Gospel

“‘Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things,’ (Matthew 21:27).”

Daily Advent Reflection

Jesus did not engage in discussion that he felt was inappropriate. In this season of goodwill, am I tempted to listen to idle words about other people or to spread something that might be seen as gossip? Is that an appropriate way to prepare for the coming of Jesus?

Daily Advent Challenge

“Today I will pay someone a compliment and recognize a gift that God has chosen for them. I will thank God that I can receive that gift through them.”

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

December 13th – Third Sunday of Advent

Posted on December 11, 2015 by - Advent Reflections

13Today’s Gospel

“‘Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise,’ (Luke 3:11).”

Daily Advent Reflection

All that we are and all that we have are gifts from our generous God. Our call is to Steward them in a responsible manner and return them with increase to the Lord.

Daily Advent Challenge

“Today I will recognize one gift that God has graced me with and try to share that gift with all those with whom I come into contact. At the end of the day I will thank God for giving me that gift.”

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

December 12th – Second Saturday of Advent

Posted on December 11, 2015 by - Advent Reflections

12Today’s Gospel

“Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, (Matthew 17:12).”

Daily Advent Reflection

We are all very blessed that we have met or have a desire to meet God in prayer. When Elijah came, he was not recognized. Jesus was also not recognized universally for who he truly was; this is still true today.

Daily Advent Challenge

“Today, I will try to help people see that I am a Christian and I will not be ashamed of saying that if the opportunity arises.”

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

December 11th – Second Friday of Advent

Posted on December 11, 2015 by - Advent Reflections

11Today’s Gospel

“The Lord will come; go out to meet him!” (Gospel Acclamation)

Daily Advent Reflection

Advent is a season when we wait; when we have a chance to connect with our expectancy. We are confident that the Lord will come. Our challenge is to have the courage to go out to meet him. We have already had this encounter and yet we wait.

Daily Advent Challenge

  • “Today I will be Christ to another – I will decide on a small way that I can bring the Lord to someone who has not encountered him. I might do this in word or in deed.”

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Two Coats

Posted on December 10, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

JohnPope Francis began this Jubilee Year of Mercy because, as he has stated, “mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel.” He states that the purpose of the year is to “reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.” This is a profound statement because he is saying that mercy is for all humanity, not just those who are Christ’s disciples, and we are not a people waiting for a coming kingdom for the Kingdom of God is already in our midst.

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December 10th – Second Thursday of Advent

Posted on December 10, 2015 by - Advent Reflections

10Today’s Gospel

“Whoever has ears ought to hear, (Matthew 11:15).”

Daily Advent Reflection

We all live in the knowledge that Jesus did come. Do we have ears to listen? We have the capacity to be the listening ears of Christ – to be co-workers with God in the building of the Kingdom. Sit with that thought for a few minutes.

Daily Advent Challenge

“Today when someone speaks to me, I will really try to have ‘ears to listen’ and witness to my faith either implicitly or explicitly.”

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark


December 9th – Second Wednesday of Advent

Posted on December 9, 2015 by - Advent Reflections

9Today’s Gospel

“’Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,’ (Matthew 11:28).”

Daily Advent Reflection

This can be a mad time of year – and even if we are not preparing for lots of visitors at Christmas, we are aware that there is lots of busy-ness and focus for the feast that is just over two weeks away.

Daily Advent Challenge

“Today I will take time to ‘just’ sit before God for 10 minutes and relish the fact that it is God who can give us rest and inner peace.”

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

It’s the Year of Mercy! Step Into the Mess

Posted on December 9, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

StepCurrent news is filled with many definitions of mercy but the definition that resonates with me the most is attributed to Jesuit Priest, Father James F. Keenan. He says that mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.  That means to step into someone’s messy life to offer love, support, prayer, whatever. To genuinely be there as someone who truly cares.

Upon reflection I realized I could do that in my everyday life.

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Three Things You Can Do to Celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Posted on December 8, 2015 by - Advent Reflections

Pope Francis ushered in the Jubilee Year of Mercy today by pushing open the great bronze doors of St. Peter’s Basilica and declaring that mercy trumps moralizing in the Catholic Church. Over the next year, an expected ten million pilgrims will make their way through those doors and cathedrals across the country will celebrate God’s mercy by opening their own “doors of mercy.”

As Catholics, the Jubilee Year of Mercy offers us a unique opportunity to open our own “doors of mercy” in our everyday lives and embrace opportunities to share the grace that has been given to us through Jesus Christ.

Here are a few ways you can celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy in your daily life:

Confession1. Make Confession a Priority

One of the primary focuses of the Jubilee Year of Mercy is to place the sacrament of God’s mercy (penance and reconciliation) at the forefront of Catholic life. Making confession a priority shows that we recognize that God’s mercy is essential for our salvation and reminds us that we are forgiven for our sins, dependent on God’s mercy, and surrounded by his love.

If you haven’t gone to confession in years, make a commitment to go. If you regularly attend confession already, talk to others about how the gift of God’s mercy has transformed your life and encourage them to commit.


forgive2. Forgive Those Who Have Wronged You

“Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ,” (Eph 4:32).

As humans, we struggle with the idea of forgiveness. Our pride deceives us into believing that we deserve to carry grudges and that holding onto that pain is our right. But we are wrong—unforgiveness is a burden, a weight that only harms us, and we need to release it.

Jesus taught us this lesson over and over again to the point where he forgave the very men who put him to death. And as God has shown us mercy through the cross, through confession, and through every day of our lives, we must show mercy to others every day.

Forgive someone who has wronged you. Invite God into that situation and ask for healing where it is needed.


kindness-of-strangers-montreal-983939493. Show Mercy and Kindness to Strangers

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus speaks of how anytime we feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, or visit those ill or in prison that we are doing those things unto him (Matt 25: 31-46). One way to open our own “doors of mercy” is to seek out opportunities to do those things Jesus told us to do.

Those little acts of kindness create habits of mercy and kindness in our daily lives that God can build on to transform us even more into his likeness.

We can and should embrace ways to show mercy daily. For some of us, that might mean volunteering at a homeless shelter, a food pantry, or another organization. For many of us, it can be something as small as letting a car merge on the freeway rather than speeding up or paying for a stranger’s coffee the next time we’re at Starbucks.

Shout for Joy

Posted on December 8, 2015 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, December 13, 2015, 3rd Sunday of Advent

Photo © Reuters. Pope Francis blesses children during his visit to the Central African Republic.

This weekend the church celebrates Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. Our Advent themes of expectation and hope are quickly turning into the anticipated joy that meeting Christ will bring. Merriam-Webster defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” The Lord is near! Our first reading from the Prophet Zephaniah sets the stage so well! “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!” “The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.” “The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior.”

We are called on this Gaudete Sunday to focus on what is soon to come, what will complete us and mend the wounds of our hearts. What we experience now is imperfect and incomplete. Inwardly, we know that there must be more, that there is a greater happiness to be achieved. The gift has come in Jesus Christ when he was born in time. And with his birth the words of the Prophet Isaiah found in today’s psalm find fulfillment: “Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” In Christ, God visits his people, shows us the way, and provides the path to joy.

On one occasion when addressing his disciples Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see” (Lk 10:23). This really summarizes our whole Advent journey. It is the task before us to ask God to help us, through this special time we have been given, to develop the “third eye” of contemplation so that we can see the truth. As we look upon the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, we do not witness an ordinary birth in time or the birth of another prophet. We witness and welcome, again, the Holy One of Israel and cry out with joy and gladness that he is among us! The incarnation of Christ is what shows us the divine in the secular, the holy in the mundane, the extraordinary in the common, the light in the darkness, the hope in the despair, and the joy in the sadness.

Recently, Pope Francis made a historic visit to the Central African Republic, which is the first time a pope has ever visited an active conflict zone. He exhorted those who listened to find their way to peace. As a leader and as a witness, Pope Francis exudes joy! You can see it and experience it in the fiber of his being. He is a living example that St. Paul’s words to the Philippians are possible to achieve: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”

Pope Francis realizes and understands that true power is not earthly power. We have a King who has already come and who promises to come again who has a different vision of things than we sometimes do. This King brings good news. John the Baptist in today’s Gospel maps out this vision perfectly. “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” He told the tax collectors to “stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” And to the soldiers he said, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” God’s kingdom becomes realized when we are able to see the truth about Jesus, born in Bethlehem, and see that true power is found in finding our way to peace with one another. When we realize our proper goal, joy will come to our hearts!

All of our readings this weekend clearly draw us away from fear and to joy. So many things cause us to be anxious and fearful. Faith is a powerful thing. It casts out fear, dispels darkness, relieves anxiety, gives us focus, clarity, and direction, grounds, secures and assures us, and points us in the way we need to go. Our lives are complicated and ever changing. With our world struggling the way it is, what is one way today can be much different tomorrow? What we have come to depend upon today can be taken away tomorrow. Change is inevitable and change is not always positive. Given all of this the question directed toward us today is this: do we really believe that the King of Israel, the Lord, is in our midst?

Pope Francis does and he exudes great joy! He does not succumb to fear. The message of Advent is real and tangible. We affirm our faith in the God who came among us as Jesus in history. We affirm our faith in Jesus who was raised from the dead and is Christ with us. We look to Jesus the Christ to come again in glory. God is ever present through all times and ages calling us to trust and have no fear. If we can embrace this truth this Advent season and realize that we are called to live in solidarity with our sisters and brothers then “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Peace. Pope Francis called the Central African Republic to be at peace. Christ our savior calls us to be at peace. Rejoice, for we possess what we desire, God our savior!

Rev. Mark S. Suslenko


Your light will come, O Jerusalem.
The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.
We shall see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
The sign of the cross shall appear in the heavens,
when our Lord shall come to judge the world.

Excerpted from A Prayer Book of Catholic Devotions.

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