My family, friends, colleagues, and fellow pilgrims on the road to Forever. As my Advent penance, I am giving up giving gifts at Christmas. Our house is doing without any gifts except each other. (I say that because we spread our gifting out throughout the year, this is not entirely altruistic.) The greatest gift is that which Christ gives us, Himself. (Philippians 2:5-12) Because we are adopted sons and daughters of the Father and are bid to love each other as Christ loves us, we can do no less than what He taught us, to love God with all our hearts, all our mind, and all our strength, and our neighbor as our self. Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36.   These sites are my top ten sites and readings that I recommend, not just for the season, but because they have helped me to re-discover the Advent of God in me. I share with you the gifts that God has so generously allowed me to discover. May the peace of Christ be in your hearts always, but not the peace that the world gives. Christ’s peace is not the absence of conflict and struggles to do the Art of Contemplative Practice, but the presence of pure love, pure knowledge, pure service in my heart. Isn’t that what the Christmas moment is all about? Philippians 2:-12 

I. I stumbled across this website a few months ago. It contains some interesting ideas worth your browsing, especially the piece about St. Thomas More. 

II. I have always loved the irascible G. K. Chesterton. He is worth the read. Check out the collected works at 

III. Lumen Gentium. This document is the Church in the Modern World. It is worth your time to read and meditate on it. 

IV. Bishop Robert Barron’s YouTube videos and websites, ones I read every day for education and edification. I have signed up for his free Sunday sermons and daily reflection on the readings at Eucharist. I am on the cusp of signing up to be an Institute member.  

V. The Center for Contemplative Practice is the name of my blog and hopefully some YouTube videos. These blog ideas are my reflections on reality as a Lay Cistercian due to my daily Lectio Divina. 

VI. Places you may never have been. I rummaged through all my saved URLs and found this interesting one about the martyrdom of Saints. You might enjoy it. I must caution you that I use these sources very carefully and judiciously and not with blind faith. Blind faith is just that; it is faith but may just be oblivious to the Church Universal’s teachings. 

VII. Archbishop of Canterbury’s address to the Synod of Bishops in Rome. I learned of this talk through my Lay Cistercian colleagues on Gathering Day. It is about contemplation and is an excellent analysis of spirituality. 

VIII. O Clavis David — I remember sitting in the chapel at St. Meinrad Minor Seminary (1954) and praying the O Antiphons. Father Stephen Thuis, O.S.B., now deceased, bless his soul, sang the Latin Antiphon in a mournful but elegant melody. The Key of David is just one of the many joyful memories I have of how St. Benedict and the Benedictine monks of St. Meinrad Archabbey influenced my spirituality. 

IX. The Liturgy of the Hours — A favorite site of mine is one that allows me to recite the complete Liturgy of the Hours every day. It is a free service, but I recommend a donation to help them out. Besides, my blog,, is featured in the Resource section of their website. 

X. The Enduring Presence of Truth I love to read the primary sources of early Christians in the Church, ones who lived Christ as their center, many of whom died because of their love and faith in a God they had never seen. One of my favorite sites (I say that about all the sites) is Father Luke Dysinger, a Benedictine monk, medical physician, doctor of patristics, and the author of the following website. You owe it to your faith and growth in Christ Jesus to look at some of the resources on his website and perhaps take one of his free courses. 

I can’t love something or someone if I don’t know about it, says Erich Fromm in his Art of Loving. I can’t know about something unless I am aware of it. I can’t be of service to others or love others if I don’t know about them and move to the heart’s deeper level. Spirituality is all about placing myself in a position of humility and obedience to the will of the Father and asking Jesus to sit with me on a park bench in the dead of Winter and just be there, overshadowed by the pure energy of the Holy Spirit. That is the meaning of being human with the commitment to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. 

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology

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