The Black Madonna


As part of Mary’s month, I’d like to something written by my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath, artist and author. This article, titled We Need Images of the Black Madonna Now More Than Ever appeared in the March 5, 2018 issue of America Magazine. Below is one of the pictures that appeared with the article.

Our Lady of Montserrat. (c) Brother Mickey McGrath 2020

Advent Resources


Waiting, waiting, waiting. I hate waiting. When I go to the doctor, I bring my Kindle with a book to read on it. When I’m at church waiting for Mass to begin (assuming I’m not running in the door at the last minute), I glance through the hymn sheet or the Missal for that day. Waiting for a television program to begin I can be found on the sofa reading the mail and checking my email. No one likes waiting.

Unfortunately, that is all that Advent is about: waiting for the birth of Christ.

It is not the fun, elf-driven, rah, rah, rah countdown to Santa Claus, but in some ways it’s better than that.

While we’re waiting, what is there to do? For me, it is reading, and soaking up more and more about the man and the Son of G-d. It fills me with such joy and leaves me wanting more that I can’t get enough. At the end of this, I will give you links to my resources, some I’m doing and others that I’ve found along the way this first week that I will keep in a folder for next year.

Father James Martin also describes Advent as a time for us to recognize our desires. This link will help explain what he means by that (and this related video). In this culture, we’ve grown accustomed to desire having a sexual connotation that we need to break out our open minds and our thesauruses. What do we truly desire in our relationship with Jesus?

While we are followers of Christ, we are also called to walk beside him. Not that we’re equal, but He is always by our sides, opening our eyes and our hearts to see and feel His love for us.

Two things that I keep reading this Advent season is mercy and forgiveness. Ironically, the two ideas that I struggle with the most. Certainly, their inclusion has a lot to do with the Jubilee Year of Mercy that begins next week. When Pope Francis first announced the Jubilee year, he offered the pilgrimage to those who couldn’t travel for one. The idea of a Pilgrimage is not something I can remotely entertain but then he did what he has done since his election as Pope – he made it accessible to all. He not only opened a door but he provided an opportunity that might want to go on pilgrimage but can’t leave their home area. I’m still discerning what it is I want out of a pilgrimage and my godmother gave me some questions to ponder, in addition to my own. That is my first step on whatever my quest might be.

It is also a time to slow down and really appreciate this time of the year. Chorus concerts, family dinners, baking cookies. We bustle through and complain about the amount of work and money and in the end we’re exhausted but happy but the slowing down of Advent is something we should all strive to reward ourselves with.

It’s the beginning of a new year. We’ve survived and thrived through so much. It’s time to celebrate and rejoice that and think of the beauty and spirit that’s coming.


Local Mass and Daily Readings

Advent Moments of Mercy (Online Retreat from Loyola Press)

Loyola Press Interactive Advent Calendars

America Magazine Readings for Advent

Bishop Robert Barron’s Daily Email for Advent

Unto us a Child is Born – Henri J.M. Nouwen– my parish’s Advent Reflection Booklet

The LIttle Blue Book for Advent and Christmas Seasons, 2015-2016

The Living Gospel: Daily Devotions for Advent by Theresa Rickard

Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar

Acts of Kindness Christmas Countdown Calendar

Open These Doors for Refuge Advent Calendar