1. Advent, as we prepare our hearts for Our Lord’s coming, is a fitting time to ask ourselves if our hearts are soiled by any grudges or unforgiveness. For most of us, forgiveness is a challenge.

In addition to examining our consciences for any resentments, I would like to recommend the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which comes from the spirituality and diary of St. Faustina Kowalska. By praying this short and beautiful chaplet (ideally daily), we ask Jesus’ Mercy on our sins and those of our world — Mercy we are all in great need of!

Also, for some practical explanations and advice regarding resentments and forgiveness, I recommend a little inexpensive book I recently finished: From Resentment to Forgiveness.

2. Like many who attended college, I had to take an introductory philosophy course as part of my general education requirement. I took mine the first semester of my freshman year and soured on it from day one, when I bought the texts for the class. The photocopy packet the instructor had prepared included an article in which a philosopher granted, for the sake of argument, that the unborn child was a human person, but then went-on to justify legal abortion for any reason anyway. The rest of the course seemed to be an exercise in mental gymnastics to justify evil by obfuscation and odd language.

This experience left me with a disdain for philosophy, at least as it is practiced today. Over the years, though, I’ve begun to wonder if I dismissed a valuable area of study, given that one of the Church’s greatest saints, St. Thomas Aquinas, was a first-rate philosopher; also, one of my favorite Catholic authors/thinkers, Peter Kreeft, is a philosopher of Boston College (yes, an orthodox thinker at a Jesuit school!).

So, I’ve prepared an Amazon order with three introductory philosophy tomes to help me come to a classic understanding of the subject and learn how to better think: Kreeft’s Philosophy 101, an inexpensive anthology of Plato’s Dialogues put-out by Barnes & Noble, and Kreeft’s treatment of Pascal’s Pensees. We’ll see how it goes — or when I’m able to get to it!

3. As any parent knows, little children are great at holding mirrors up to adults’ faces. My eldest (now 3) was helping me start a load of laundry the other day. As we finished putting the clothes in, she remarked “This is where we put the clothes and then they stay here for a really long time!” Though she was pointing to the washer as she said this, I laughed at the realization that my toddler had learned from Mommy’s less-than-stellar laundry skills that clothes remain in the dryer and are not folded or put away for days sometimes! Mea culpa!