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Holiness in Our Daily Lives

Advent remind us that Jesus was born into a human family. It was important that he took on our flesh and blood, but it was equally important that he took on the social relationships that both complete and complicate our lives. We can sometimes think that it would be easier to be holy apart from the people with whom we live and work. But the incarnation reminds us that God calls us to be holy in the midst of those very relationships.  What we learn from Mary and Joseph is that as long as we say yes to God, he will guide us through the darkness with a sure hand. 

—from Diane M. Houdek's The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis 

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

Saint Lucy

<em>St Lucy</em> | photo by Lawrence OP | flickr
Image: St. Lucy | photo by Lawrence OP | flickr

Saint Lucy

Saint of the Day for December 13

(283 – 304)


Saint Lucy’s Story

Every little girl named Lucy must bite her tongue in disappointment when she first tries to find out what there is to know about her patron saint. The older books will have a lengthy paragraph detailing a small number of traditions. Newer books will have a lengthy paragraph showing that there is little basis in history for these traditions. The single fact survives that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian, and she was executed in Syracuse, Sicily, in the year 304. But it is also true that her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, geographical places are named after her, a popular song has her name as its title, and down through the centuries many thousands of little girls have been proud of the name Lucy.

One can easily imagine what a young Christian woman had to contend with in pagan Sicily in the year 300. If you have trouble imagining, just glance at today’s pleasure-at-all-costs world and the barriers it presents against leading a good Christian life.

Her friends must have wondered aloud about this hero of Lucy’s, an obscure itinerant preacher in a far-off captive nation that had been destroyed more than 200 years before. Once a carpenter, he had been crucified by the Romans after his own people turned him over to their authority. Lucy believed with her whole soul that this man had risen from the dead. Heaven had put a stamp on all he said and did. To give witness to her faith she had made a vow of virginity.

What a hubbub this caused among her pagan friends! The kindlier ones just thought her a little strange. To be pure before marriage was an ancient Roman ideal, rarely found, but not to be condemned. To exclude marriage altogether, however, was too much. She must have something sinister to hide, the tongues wagged.

Lucy knew of the heroism of earlier virgin martyrs. She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God. She is the patroness of eyesight.


If you are a little girl named Lucy, you need not bite your tongue in disappointment. Your patron is a genuine authentic heroine, first class, an abiding inspiration for you and for all Christians. The moral courage of the young Sicilian martyr shines forth as a guiding light, just as bright for today’s youth as it was in A.D. 304.

Saint Lucy is the Patron Saint of:

The Blind
Eye Disorders

Another Saint of the Day for December 13 is Servant of God Berthold of Ratisbon.

Saints resources

Joy Is the Essence of the Christmas Message

If anything marks the Christmas season in the words of Pope Francis, it’s simplicity, smallness, and humility. He rejoices in the gifts of lights and Christmas trees, carols and crèches, and the happy faces of children who gather to be blessed. Joy is always part of his Christmas message. But it’s a joy that comes from the heart rather than from the external trappings that we sometimes mistake for essentials.

—from Diane M. Houdek's The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis

The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis

God Reaches Out to Us through Others

The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is familiar to most Christians. We can imagine what it must be like to wander away from the flock, to be lost and cold and out of reach of all that’s familiar. Few of us have a direct experience of God caring for us as the Good Shepherd. For most of us, that loving presence comes from the flesh-and-blood people in our lives. God reaches out to others through us just as he reached out to us through others.

—from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

Hope and Heroism

The prophet Isaiah wrote at a time when violence and war were the order of the day. The people of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians and would later be taken into exile. And yet Isaiah could speak of a hope rooted in the Lord’s call for justice and for peace. Our own world seems to be increasingly violent. We might think that Isaiah’s vision is further away than ever before.

The Internet brings violence from the far corners of the world into our lives, but we also know that there is violence in our cities, our neighborhoods, and even, at times, in our own homes. But we also hear of hopeful and heroic actions, often by a few individuals standing in the face of darkness and offering what light they have.

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

Look for a Joyful Peace

Have you ever been surrounded by a whirlwind of activity, perhaps in the midst of family and friends, and felt a sudden whoosh of deep contentment? This is what Pope Francis refers to as a “joyful peace.” It’s the swirling flow of a dance, the soaring notes of a symphony. Too often when we imagine peace, we think that it needs to be perfect stillness. When we reflect on the life of Jesus in the Gospels, we realize he was almost always in motion: walking, preaching, teaching, healing, eating, and drinking. Even when he went off to deserted places to pray, one imagines that he was in an active communion with his Father.

—from The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek

The Tiniest Miracles in God's Creation

Christmas can become a celebration of artifice and manufactured wonders. From the dangling icicle lights along the roofline to the inflatable cartoon characters on suburban lawns, we run the risk of treating this holiday as a time of one-upping not only the neighbors but also God. But we know deep down that no factory in China can produce something as wonderful as the tiniest miracle in God’s creation.

—from The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek

The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis

Make Room for God

Those who hope in the Lord “will run and not grow weary.” We might have trouble believing these words when we’re running in a hundred different directions trying to get everything done. It’s hard not to get caught up in the frenetic activity of the season. We want this kind of boundless energy. We can find it by keeping God as our central priority and reminding ourselves that life will go on and people will still love us, even if our errands go unfinished. Cross something off today’s list and write in God instead.

—from the book Advent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek

A curated collection of Advent books and audios from Franciscan Media

God Holds Our World in His Hands

Pope Francis reminds us that the hallmark of a Christian should be joy and peace, even in the midst of difficult times. We can become discouraged by the state of the world, the squabbling in our families, the economic difficulties we face, and even the dissension and scandals in our church. We need frequent reminders that God still has the world in his hands, even if we can’t always see it. The world of first-century Palestine, the world into which Jesus was born, had its own conflicts and strife. But Jesus brought hope and peace to his world, and he continues to bring the same to ours. Getting back to the beginning of the life of Jesus can bring back some of the joy and innocence of childhood and remind us that a tiny faith can blossom into something much greater.

—from the book The Joy of Advent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek

The Joy of Advent by Diane M. Houdek


Advent with Saint Nicholas

It’s well known that Saint Nicholas, a sixth-century bishop, is behind our use of the secular “icon” of Christmas, Santa Claus. The legends of Nicholas involve his generosity to those in need. 

The details of Nicholas’ life are few; but legends often have a kernel of truth, and if so, he forms a worthy basis for reflection during this season of preparation for Christmas. Advent is a time to expect God’s intervention in our lives. It may be dramatic, or—more typically—quiet and perhaps not immediately evident. God may even use a bit of stealth, as the legendary Nicholas did, to gift us. May we keep the windows of our heart open!

—from the book Advent with the Saints: Daily Meditations by Greg Friedman, OFM

A curated collection of Advent books and audios from Franciscan Media