My mammy is very good about sending me letters and small parcels of tea bags and chocolate from Ireland. I get excited when I know she has put them in the post, but it takes nearly two weeks for my precious goods to arrive! So I just have to wait. And I dislike waiting just as much as the next person. We will do anything we can to distract us from the difficulty of waiting. It’s easier to wait when we have something to keep us busy and take our minds off the present time that seems to be dragging on.

Is this what we’re experiencing now that December is upon us? The weeks in December seem longer than any other month of the year. We wait for Amazon to deliver, for lights to go up, and for the day that it becomes acceptable to wear our Christmas jumpers. We become busy with preparations to help pass the time.

In this season of Advent, we have begun a time of waiting. While waiting for Christmas day, we must make important preparations; not just putting up lights or buying the right gifts, but preparing our hearts. We can look to Our Lady who spent an entire pregnancy preparing for the first Christmas day. Like any pregnant mother, she knows what it is to wait. It is Our Lady who knows how to welcome the baby Jesus into a home, but even more so into our hearts. Jesus is coming and He needs a home made ready for Him. He wants to be born within each of our hearts, even if right now it seems like a messy stable. We can prepare as we wait for His birth if we allow Our Lady to help us. Walk with her and St. Joseph on the road to Bethlehem and allow Jesus to grow within us. Rest in the womb of Mary as Jesus did and allow her to form our hearts into a place fitting for Jesus. Allow Mary to prepare our hearts like she would have prepared the manger for Jesus to lay in. Allow her to hold us close and experience her love.

But how can we allow Mary in to help prepare us? Start by praying the rosary. Be the inn keeper that said yes to Mary and Joseph. “Yes, I can give you a place to for your baby to be born; it’s not much, but it’s all I have.” Jesus will meet us where we are, wherever our hearts are and with whatever we have to offer Him. He sees us along the road right now and is giving us a few more weeks to prepare for His arrival. Don’t become distracted to make the wait seem shorter, but rather prepare with and through Mary.

O come, O come Emmanuel.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-24-48-pmAnna Rose is a first-year missionary from Northern Ireland. She enjoys a good cup of tea, praying the rosary, and confusing Americans with Irish sayings!

Community: A School of Love (and Hard Knocks)

Community: A School of Love (And Hard Knocks)

By Blake BrouilletteBlake
What was I thinking? Seriously though, I graduated college in May and the first big life decision I make is to move to Denver to make no money and share a room with two other dudes.

At a time in life when most of my friends decide to live by themselves or downsize the amount of roommates they have, I move into a 10’ x 15’ room and sleep in a bunk bed.

Yes, you read that right. I am sleeping in a bunk bed after graduation. We have no closets in our room, and I have 5 drawers for all of my clothes with barely any space to hang clothes.

So what makes me continue to live this lifestyle? What about this claustrophobic daily living makes me completely forget the external circumstances? What allows me to get through the day with a smile on my face and joy in my heart? The answer is simple, community life.

At Christ in the City, homeless ministry is the end goal of our apostolate. The means of getting there is through community life. This “community life” is simple. It involves a group of college aged missionaries struggling to “die to ourselves” at every moment of every day.

Through this total self-sacrifice in our small daily moments, we are able to give the small gifts and love we have to the homeless we serve. As one of our patrons Mother Teresa says, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

All the strength, love, confidence, compassion, caring, mercy, and joy towards our homeless friends begins in the way we interact with our community.

Each act towards your community and the homeless may seem small and miniscule. Small things such as letting someone else have the last serving of food, handing out a small snack or water to someone in need of food, taking an extra five minutes to fold someone else’s clothes, and giving a pair of socks to someone in need on the streets all add up.

The small acts become something large. The only way to change the world is one small act and one small gesture at a time. It’s easy to forget that not all these acts happen at the same time. Whether it’s in our families or communities, each small act is important and adds up.

Community life is what we leave in the morning, and come back to at night. It is there when you have a good day or bad day. It involves challenging other community members, celebrating the highs and lows of life and confronting people when they need help with love as the motive of your words. It includes sharing stories form the streets, laughter and tears from life’s turns and twists, problems and struggles in life, and the joy of simply living as a child of God.

Community life is the source of our strength, the means to an end, and the place where we grow in faith and love right alongside each other. Sometimes this love is difficult.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Iron hitting against iron is abrupt, loud and jarring. So is community life.

In the end, it isn’t about who had the most space in their room, free time at night, or the most material things. It’s about whether or not you’re a saint and who you brought with you.

Blake Brouillette is a first-year missionary from Hastings, Nebraska

Yellow roses and ice cream

Yellow Roses and Ice Cream


By Makena Clawson

I can’t do much. And realizing this actually brings me peace.

I worry, wring my hands, pace around the room and eat ice cream when I’m stressed. (Mostly the ice cream one – I have my spoon in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s peanut butter cup right now.)

Working with our friends experiencing homelessness can be stressful. Their burdens become our burdens, their pain becomes our pain. How do I sleep comfortably at night when so many of my friends are freezing on cold pavement or stuck on a mat at a shelter with someone an inch away on both sides?

Recently, I’ve been getting to know a young homeless woman who is pregnant. We work with multiple pregnant women, but this one is close to me in age and we’ve formed a close friendship ever since she trusted me enough to tell me she’s expecting.

I was working with this woman to get her into a temporary shelter while she looked for more permanent housing. She agreed, there was a place in the shelter and everything was lining up. But one small problem. She wanted to spend one last night on the street. I tried to convince her, but her mind was made.

This wasn’t any normal night, but happened to be the night the first big snow of the year was set to come in. My fellow missionaries were excited about the first snow and the office buzzed with talk of the airport canceling flights, all as my heart sank lower and lower.

Could I have tried harder to convince her to go inside tonight? Should we go downtown and look for her? What if it gets so cold and she loses the baby? What more could I have done?

These questions all swirled through my head like the first snowflakes hitting the ground. I was preoccupied all evening. Sure, I gave it over to God (or at least thought I did) and prayed for him to take care of her. But I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

As we filed into the chapel for night prayer, I looked up towards the altar and saw a large vase full of yellow roses. Yellow roses are significant because three years ago, someone told me about how they asked God for a sign their prayers for unborn children were effective and saw yellow roses as reassurance that their prayers were heard. Yellow roses had become a special sign for me too after praying for the unborn.

I fell to my knees and realized how selfish I’d been. This homeless friend and her unborn child belong to God, not me. She is his daughter and not mine. He loves her more than I ever could. Why had I been worried, anxious and stress eating instead of handing her over to him with trust and peace?

The yellow roses reminded me that he is taking care of her and her child. That she is in his hands and not mine. Maybe he’ll use me as an instrument in helping her occasionally, but she belongs to him.

I saw my friend the next day doing well. She is now in the shelter and there’s a yellow rose bush outside with blossoms still alive even after several snows.

Makena Clawson is a first-year missionary and recent graduate of Benedictine College. She wishes the whole world loved Jesus, speaking in Spanish, and Nancy Drew as much as she does.