Countdown to Christmas: Three days left: Fourth Sunday of Advent, focus on Saint Joseph, Mishael Miller’s last National Anthem for the Baltimore Ravens, today’s O Antiphon and prayer, and more Christmas music



The Vigil Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent at Saint Francis de Sales Church, Abingdon (PHOTO by Patti Murphy Dohn)


“Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.”

Morning Prayer Antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent




In the last Advent days leading up to Christmas, I will share some reflections, prayers, and music for you to enjoy during this very hectic holiday season.


JOSEPH OF NAZARETH from St. Joseph’s Chapel, Suffern, New York


Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent:

We attended the Vigil Mass yesterday since we are having our family Christmas dinner this afternoon and wanted to have extra time in the morning for the final touches. Deacon Richard Stine gave a wonderful homily at St. Francis de Sales, Abingdon, concentrating on the plight faced by Saint Joseph when he found out that Mary, his betrothed, was with child. He also related this conundrum with that which is faced by many families today who do their best to give support to family members who face difficult or unplanned pregnancies.

Speaking of Saint Joseph…. He doesn’t get a lot of press in the Scriptures. There is no record of any of his spoken words. But the accounts of the key moments of his life with the Blessed Virgin Mary, both before and after the birth of Jesus, are powerful lessons in his trust in God.  Today’s Gospel (Matthew 1:18-24) recounts the dream where Joseph is told to take Mary as his wife as the child she is carrying was conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Saint Joseph continues to be a quiet role model to so many of us who seek to trust in God’s providence each day.


 Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, 1670-75, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), Ringling Museum, 17th Spain & England


More reflections on Saint Joseph:

Another excellent homily for today’s Fourth Sunday of Advent by popular blogger Deacon Greg Kandra can be read here



Reverend Mishael Miller of Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church will sing the Baltimore Raven’s kickoff National Anthem for the last time at M&T Bank Stadium today (December 22, 2013).  Baltimore Sun photo


Mishael Miller’s last National Anthem for the Baltimore Ravens:

After 18 years of providing patriotic pride for our hometown Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium, amazing baritone Mishael Miller will sing the National Anthem for the last time before this today’s last home game of the season kick-off. This assistant pastor at the Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church is following God’s call to serve as the new pastor of the St. Luke A.M.E. Zion Church in Birmingham, Alabama next month.

Reverend Miller told the Baltimore Sun: “I have always been involved in the church. I was playing church in my living room as a kid. I would make a pulpit and an altar. Ministry is at the root of all that I do. It seems like I don’t know anything else. And I’ve been preaching since I was 18. I was involved in youth ministry for my church in Philadelphia.”

Invited to sing the National Anthem for the very first Ravens game on August 3, 1996 at Memorial Stadium since the Morgan State University marching band was playing, this 1995 Morgan music grad so impressed Art Modell that he was invited to sing for all future games.

Enjoy this 5-minute video interview where Mishael Miller tells how his love of singing and music developed in church, how he was invited to sing for that first game in 1996 with Art Modell asking him to stay on permanently, and how Ravens fans “help” him by shouting “O” near the end of the National Anthem.

Those lucky enough to attend today’s game will enjoy Mishael Miller singing Christmas music during halftime. How wonderful!!


 Singing for baseball too: “The Star Spangled Banner” by Mishael E. Miller, June 12, 2010, at the Baltimore Orioles-New York Mets game with the support of Ravens cheerleaders in the background.




Today’s “O Antiphon”

“O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
 come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!”

—Today’s Antiphon for December 22




Music for your Enjoyment:

“Joseph’s Hands”

  Honoring Saint Joseph: There is so little music about Saint Joseph, so I was delighted when I found this beautiful tribute called “Joseph’s Hands.” Composer Michael Mikulin spent two years working on this song dedicated to Saint Joseph which “reminds us all of his incredible service. He is a model father to all of us. The song details the birth of Jesus, Joseph’s dream, and the flight to Egypt.”





“Silent Night” 

Enjoy this classic version of “Silent Night” by Bing Crosby, another golden oldie.




“Joy to the World”

Arranged by Mack Wilberg and produced by and broadcast on PBS, “Joy to the World” was the opening song their program “Sing We Now of Christmas: A Festival of Carols”, featuring the choirs of First Presbyterian Church in Davenport, Iowa under the direction of Steven R. Jobman. Arranged by Mack Wilberg.





Prayer for December 22:

Oh, Jesus who descended from Jesse,
you are a sign of God’s love.
I feel hopeful and expectant,
filled with a rebirth of joy and love.

I depend on you so much.
You are a rock for my belief
and a sign of God’s love.

Fill me with your praise!
I want to sing your glory,
filled with joy
for the message of hope you send.

I don’t always understand
when you are acting on my behalf.
Thank you for the message of hope you send me.
Give me true faith and love
as I celebrate the mystery
of how you came to be with us.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!


Graphic by Look and Learn Catholic Visuals


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