God’s love and mercy, in person of Jesus, pierces through darkness

The Third Sunday of Advent, on which Msgr. Joseph Prior reflects in his column, is cause for great joy because Christians have been born into the Kingdom of God, which promises life in the face of death.

Readings of the Holy Mass: Third Sunday of Advent

Read or listen to the readings before Mass with these resources from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, using the New American Bible, Revised Edition.

Mary’s patience invites us to reflect on the true meaning of Advent

In saying yes to God, Mary accepted a destiny that required courage and humble perseverance, writes Anna Jones. As her baby grew within her womb, so too did her trust in God, making Mary the perfect guide through this season of hopeful waiting.

During Advent, embrace your spiritual struggles

Facing our failings with honesty, humility and sincere repentance leads to growth, writes Father Andrew Dutko. Our weaknesses can become unlikely gifts that ultimately deepen our relationship with the Lord.

Can a gay person distribute holy Communion?

Father Doyle advises a reader who wants to know if a same-sex attracted person can become an extraordinary minister at Mass. He counsels another reader with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom the sights and sounds of Mass can be jarring.

From birth, Christ reveals the Father and his love for the poor

A child's sculptures and a meeting with a Mary lookalike inspire Patrick Walsh to reflect on the reality of the Nativity, in which salvation’s story begins with a clear line to those on the margins of society.

Advent is a lesson in being vulnerable

Waiting means submitting to an "other" who may or may not come through for us, writes Gina Christian. But Christ shows us how to lower our heads in humility, so that we can raise them in confident expectation of his saving love.

Confessions from a face-to-face confessional

Returning to the sacrament of penance after decades, April McMurray Aiello was rusty but found her good-natured priest helpful and wise. Her confession was anything but perfect, but that's the whole point.

Be consoled tenderly by the Lord in confession, pope says

The Lord draws near to those in need with the tenderness of a father, and anyone who wants to experience his consolation simply needs to go to confession, Pope Francis said at morning Mass.

Do what you can, when you can, to witness to the truth

John the Baptist, Oscar Romero and Maura Clarke all confronted injustice with courage and love, writes Father Thomas Higgins. Advent is a time to follow their example, in ways great and small, to bring God's light to the world.