My Soul Waits: Praying with the Psalms through Advent, Christmas & Epiphany

My Soul Waits is a devotional for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Combining the words of the Psalms and meditations from the Church Fathers, it guides the reader through the various twists and turns on the journey to our Lord’s Nativity. 

Aaron and the Levitical priesthood were instructed to bless the people of Israel with these words: “The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num. 6:24–26). Psalm 67 is a prayer of blessing that comes out of the same tradition. It sees the blessing of God as the very source of life and health, without which there is no hope for prosperity or peace.

A rich tone of thanksgiving is prevalent throughout the psalm, and this probably explains why it was used at the great autumn Feast of Sukkot, or Tabernacles. The feast is significant for two reasons. First, according to Exodus 34:22, it celebrates the “ingathering” of the harvest, the annual sign of God’s blessing in the fruitfulness of the fields. “The earth has yielded its increase,” declares the psalmist (Ps. 67:6), and in that plenty is seen the face of God. Second, the feast is a reminder of the Israelites’ sojourn in the wilderness (Lev. 23:39–43), during which God “made the 7 people of Israel dwell in booths,” or Sukkot, temporary huts built of branches and leafy boughs, as they made their way from one camp to another on their trek from Egypt to the Promised Land.

Together with a spirit of celebration, therefore, the brief verses of Psalm 67 confess a sense of utter dependence of the people of Israel—of all the nations, indeed of all the earth—on the favorable presence of God. As the psalmist says elsewhere about all created life, “When you give it to them they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust” (Ps. 104:28–29, NIV).

In his rule for the monastic community, Saint Benedict prescribed Psalm 67 to be sung every morning at daybreak, the rising sun being an apt image for the radiant and life-giving face of God. Morning after morning, the day is prayerfully greeted by monks with this simple acknowledgment and petition: “Like the rising sun, O Lord, may your face shine upon us this new day, and bring us life. Bless us with the warmth of your presence and we, in turn, will reflect that blessing to others and we will praise your name forever.” A prayer for God’s blessing is never contingent upon dire circumstances, illness, or misfortune. It is appropriate to every day of our lives, for every day of life given to us is an act of God’s mercy and favor.

This Child of Faith: “Read this one and weep.”

How do you help a child have faith—real faith that they own—in the challenging world we live in today?

“In this beautiful and timely memoir, mother and son share insights from a family’s spiritual awakening, a journey that led to a deep experience of God and a new way of life in the world. Not only do they offer practical advice on faith formation, but they tackle a difficult question: How does faith prepare us not only life’s joys but for its most shocking tragedies? The answer is deceptively simple: by paying attention to the Spirit and trusting one another. Read this one and weep. And discover the hope of a child.”
Diana Butler Bass, Author, Grounded: Finding God in the World, A Spiritual Revolution


Tain Gregory was present in his third-grade classroom on the morning of the Sandy Hook shootings. As part of the healing process for the community after the tragedy Tain was asked, “What’s the most important thing in the world to you?” His mother expected an answer about a video game or Pokémon trading card. Tain thinks for a moment then answers with one word. “God.” Until that moment, his mother had no idea how close to the surface his faith existed.

Taking the events of that tragic day, but also the years preceding it, and the days of recovery and healing that followed, Sophfronia and Tain share stories, experiences and ideas to help parents get to the heart of the question:

How do you help a child have faith—real faith that they own—in the challenging world we live in today?

“In this unblinkingly honest and tender work, Sophfronia Scott and her son, Tain, share their journey of faith…. Sophfronia gently models how to nurture the innate spirituality and faith of a child. In doing so, her own faith grows and deepens as well…. This Child of Faith doesn’t claim to know all the answers, but it serves as a moving testimony to the power of faith when a family embarks upon the journey together.”

Rev. Andrea Raynor, author of Incognito: Lost and Found at Harvard Divinity School

 

A Gentle Guide Through Grief and Loss

For those of any age who have suffered loss, here is a journey of brilliant color to bring you peace.

Beloved author and artist Roger Hutchison has created a picture book to guide readers through different emotions and reactions related to grieving. The gentle text and illustrations of this lushly colored picture book explore feelings of shock, tears, anger, and hope, using the powerful language and experience of color. My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. is a welcome companion to people of all ages as they journey through loss and grief.

Following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Roger had the privilege of painting with children and adults who were touched by this tragic event. The experience affected him at a cellular level and convinced him of a vocation to serve those who grieve using his writing and art.

Preview the book

Read a recent guest blog post by Roger Hutchison about grief: 

It has been said that we are currently in a place of perpetual trauma.

I feel it.

I feel it from my head to my heart to my toes.

I feel it in the interactions I have with those around me.

There is a weariness in my human brothers and sisters.

A palpable grief in the way their bodies move.

Shoulders and hearts burdened by so much pain and sadness.

A daily reader of simple and direct Advent reflections

Your Light Gives Us Hope: 24 Daily Practices for Advent
Anselm Grun, OSB

Drawing on his experience as a spiritual director, he offers practices for personal devotion or for family prayer for each day of Advent, approaching the festive season consciously, making it a blessed time for ourselves and our families. 

From the translator’s Foreword:

Fr. Anselm Grün needs little introduction in Germany. He is well-known as a best-selling author of books on Christian faith and spirituality, which together have sold more than 14 million copies, and regularly gives talks and workshops across the country as well as appearing frequently on television. He does all this while living out his vow of “stability of place” at the Benedictine abbey of Münsterschwarzach, not far from the city of Würzburg in Lower Franconia. There, he joins his brothers in what St. Benedict described in his Rule as “a school for the Lord’s service,” which in this case is a large community of monks with a strong local ministry and a global vision of mission.

Within this community, which he joined as a nineteen-year-old in the early 1960s, Fr. Grün joins his brothers in the commitment to “work and pray,” as the motto of the Benedictine order puts it. For more than thirty years, he held the important position St. Benedict called the “cellarer,” the monk charged with managing the provisions of the monastery and thus responsible, as the Rule puts it, “for everything”—a kind of CFO for the abbey’s business operations. In this role, he had oversight of a workforce employing more than three hundred people in some twenty departments, hardly what we think of when we imagine a monk observing the rule of silence.

Yet while his work as cellarer surely grounded him in the often stressful realities of modern business, the wisdom he brings in his writings has more to do with St. Benedict’s daring conviction that “the divine presence is everywhere”—in our work and in our prayer, in the monastery as in “the world.” Readers will come to recognize the impact of this belief throughout the pages that follow.

All this suggests why, in reading Fr. Grün, one does not encounter the voice of a reclusive monk. His God is not hiding somewhere in the monastery, out of reach of ordinary folks. On the contrary, and in keeping with the Advent tidings, he discovers God in the scriptural promises that point to the One who comes among us, the incarnate Lord in Jesus of Nazareth. At the heart of this season, we come face-to-face—quite literally—with the God who takes up human life and lives as one with us. This is the Messiah announced in Advent as Emmanuel, the God-with-us who was born in a simple manger in Bethlehem. And it is this God who seeks to be present “everywhere” among us in our lives today.

This day-by-day devotional guide to Advent appeared in the original German edition in 2015 and quickly became a well-loved companion for thousands of readers: Roman Catholic and Protestant, doubters and seekers. They found here what they have come to expect from Fr. Grün’s wide-ranging writings: namely, nourishment for their spiritual hunger and illumination for their path in life. It is a privilege to bring this devotional gem to English readers.

What you will find in these pages, meant to be read and pondered day by day during the weeks leading up to Christmas, is a message shaped by a dialogue between theology and psychology, faith and spirituality, divine revelation and human experience. Throughout the short chapters here, Fr. Grün meets us in our longing for wholeness, the desire that marks Advent as the “overture” to the larger symphony of the church’s year. These daily readings offer a centering path through these often hectic weeks, reminding us, as the opening words of the Rule put it, to learn to “listen . . . with the ears of [our] heart.”

 Mark S. Burrows Bochum, Germany

The Angry Christian

 At a time when anger runs at a high pitch in our society, Bert Ghezzi offers biblically based advice on how to use it wisely. Invite him to speak to your church or group.

Phrases such as “culture of anger” have come to describe much of our world today. Bert Ghezzi corrects the mistaken view that anger is always bad and sinful. Bert says it is a normalpart of our human nature. Anger is good if we engage it to help us do the right thing and if we don’t let it escalate out of hand. But it spawns evil if it gets out of control or if we use it for selfish, wrong-headed purposes. Bert explains that under the power of the Holy Spirit, we can transform our anger into occasions of grace. We can replace it with behaviors like patience, endurance, and determination to do the right thing. So anger used well can help us overcome obstacles that block our twofold mission of becoming saints and advancing and applying the Gospel.

Bert’s unique approach to this issue is much needed today. Endorsers of the book include Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Philadelphia; Dr. Ray Guarendi,and Fr. Dwight Longenecker who writes, “In this practical and pastoral little book, Bert Ghezzi walks us through a guidebook on anger, showing how anger is God’s blessing not his curse. When the energy of anger is directed properly, God’s power to heal and transform ourselves and our world is unleashed.” — Bert is available to speak to groups or churches. If you are interested, please contact the author directly at bertghezzi@gmail.com

Sr. Antonia Cleverly
Director of Marketing