Tag Archives: Advent

Advent Presence

As we are at the midway point in the liturgical season of Advent (in the roman rite) it is helpful to remember what we doing and why we are doing it. Pope Benedict is helpful in recalling the essence of the season.

“Advent” does not mean “expectation,” as some may think. It is a translation of the Greek word parousia which means “presence” or, more accurately, “arrival,” i. e., the beginning of a presence. In antiquity the word was a technical term for the presence of a king or ruler and also for the God being worshiped, who bestows his parousia on his devotees for a time.

Advent Taize.jpg

“Advent,” then, means a presence begun, the presence being that of God. Advent reminds us, therefore, of two things: first, that God’s presence in the world has already begun, that he is present though in a hidden manner; second, that his presence has only begun and is not yet full and complete, that it is in a state of development, of becoming and progressing toward its full form.

His presence has already begun, and we, the faithful, are the ones through whom he wishes to be present in the world. Through our faith, hope, and love he wants his light to shine over and over again in the night of the world.

That night is “today” whenever the “Word” becomes “flesh” or genuine human reality. The Christ child comes in a real sense whenever human beings act out of authentic love for the Lord.

Benedictus
Pope Benedict XVI

Gaudete Sunday: the 3rd Sunday of Advent


2 angels.jpgRejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice; let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.

 

Gaudete Sunday is called such because of the first word in Latin of the antiphon that begins, GaudeteRejoice…. The full antiphon is noted above. It orients our prayer and Mass today! The presence of the Lord is acknowledged to be here, right now, in our midst. Catholics are a people full of joy today and everyday of our existence. The Presence of the Lord is always in our midst: in the Eucharist, sacred Scripture, in our hearts and in our community. Pope Benedict offers us a perspective on an aspect of this joy:

 

The root of man’s joy is the harmony he enjoys with himself. He lives in this affirmation. And only one who can accept himself can also accept the you, can accept the world. The reason why an individual cannot accept the you, cannot come to terms with him, is that he does not like his own I [the I is the whole self, one’s entire body, soul and mind] and, for that reason, cannot accept a you. Something strange happens here. We have seen that the inability to accept one’s I leads to the inability to accept a you. But how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one’s I?

 

The answer may perhaps be unexpected: We cannot do so by our own efforts alone.

Advent tree.jpgOf ourselves, we cannot come to terms with ourselves. Our I becomes acceptable to us only if it has first become accept to another I. We can love ourselves only if we first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist… If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist” -must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love.

 

For it is the way of love to will the other’s existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again. The key to the I lies with the you; the way to the you leads through the I.

 

(Benedictus, 2006)

Kindly Mother of the Redeemer

A new liturgical season calls for a new Marian antiphon. So with Advent beginning at First Vespers last Saturday until the Purification of Mary (February 2nd), the monks are singing Alma Redemptoris Mater as the Marian hymn following the Office of Vigils. This hymn dates at least to the 11th century and is said to have been composed by Herman the Cripple. The popularity of Alma Redemptoris Mater is demonstrated by the fact that it is found in the “The Prioress’ Tale” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.


BVM with child Gozzoli.jpg

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: tu quae genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

Kindly Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people,
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth,
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator,
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel’s mouth
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.

(translated by Cardinal John Henry Newman)

Advent: the time of our Salvation is nearer

Behold, the great Prophet shall come; and He shall renew Jerusalem, alleluia.

 

A thrilling voice by rings

Rebuking guilt and darksome things:

Vain dreams of sins and visions fly;

Christ in His might shines forth on high.

 



St John the Baptist.jpgNow let each torpid soul arise

That sunk in guilt and wounded lies;

See, the new Star’s refulgent ray

Shall chase disease and sin away.

 

The Lamb descends from heaven above

To pardon sin with freest love:

For such indulgent mercy shown

With tearful joy our thanks we own.

 

That when again He shines revealed

And trembling worlds to terror yield,

He give not sin its just reward

But in His love protect and guard.

 

To God the Father, God the Son,

And God the Spirit, Three in One,

Praise, honor, might and glory be

From age to age eternally. Amen.

 

V. The voice of one crying in the desert: make ready the way of the Lord.

R. Make straight His paths.

 

We beseech Thee, O Lord, show forth Thy power and come, that we may deserve to be rescued from the ever-threatening danger of our sins, and be saved by Thy deliverance.

Advent in the Maronite Church

Do you know if Advent’s begun? It has if you are a Maronite Catholic. The typical 4 week Advent season for many Catholics of the Latin Church is not the norm for all Catholics.


qoorbono.jpgSeason of the Glorious Birth of the Lord

(Season of soboorey, or “Happy Announcements”)

Visitation1.jpgThe pre-Christmas Cycle has six Sundays, which all focus on the unfolding revelation of the Birth of the Messiah. This is done in the context of the immediate family of Jesus, centering on Mary and Joseph (Matthew 1, 2; Luke 1, 2). This is certainly in line with the Antiochene emphasis on the humanity of Jesus and its appreciation of the historical aspect of Scripture. The greatest Announcement, of course, is that of the angels on Christmas.

 

There are one or two Sundays after Christmas (depending upon the day of the week that Christmas occurs), one of which is always celebrated: the Finding in the Temple. On 1 January the liturgical commemoration is Feast of the Circumcision (Naming) of the Child Jesus, with a second commemoration of the common Eastern observance of Saint Basil.

 

The Sundays of the Advent Season in the Maronite Church are:

 

  • Announcement to Zechariah
  • Announcement to the Virgin Mary
  • Visitation to Elizabeth
  • Birth of John the Baptizer
  • Revelation to Joseph
  • Genealogy Sunday
  • The Finding in the Temple

In celebrating the Finding in the Temple (Sunday after Christmas) the Maronite Church uses the 3rd Infancy Narrative of Luke (chapter 2) to parallel closely the Gospel development of Jesus’ own growth. He is seen in the Temple, recognizing his true “Father” (his divine Origin) and preparing himself for his Baptism and public life. In addition, Joseph disappears from all the Gospel narratives: Joseph’s earthly fathering is done, and Jesus will now proclaim the heavenly Father. The Twelve Days of Christmas take us to the Feast of the Epiphany (Theophany).

 

Season of Epiphany (in Syriac this feast is called Denho)


Jesus lover of humanity.jpgTaking the Baptism of Jesus (6 January) as the model, the Maronite Church celebrates our new life of Baptism and Chrismation in this Season. In Syriac it is called denho. For some Syriac Churches, this season is the traditional time of reception of catechumens into the Church. But for all Syriac Christians, denho is a time to reflect on our baptism. During the first three days of the Sixth Week of Epiphany (Monday-Wednesday) the Maronite Church observes “Nineveh Days.” These three days are penitential and serve to anticipate the Season of Great Lent. In one form or another, these days are observed by all the Syriac Churches, East and West.

(Thanks to R. Dom Bartholomew Leon, OSB, Saint Rafka Mission, Greenville, SC)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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