Tag Archives: Advent

Advent Three, Gaudete

Los entering the grave Wm Blake.jpg

Our worship of God began today with the Church quoting Saint Paul who wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (Phil. 4:4-5).

Hard to hear these words today following the tragic events of Friday the 14th where the citizens in Newtown, Connecticut, indeed, the nation, faced horrific acts of evil. As we “faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity” our affect, our prayer, our humanity has a new orientation, a new recognition: a cry of anguish and a cry of joy. That’s the Christian paradox. We are sad (troubled and grieved) to have young people gunned down. Lives cut short. The living who are searching for ways to go on with meaning and peace. The somber joy of the Third Sunday of Advent is an invitation, a recognition, a way being, to a life of joy found only in God no matter the circumstance.

Advent, like every day of our liturgical lives is call to be aware of God; to be reawakened to the movements of grace in the depths of our being.

The Liturgy concludes with the petition that the divine gifts received in the Eucharist “cleanse us of our faults and prepare us for the coming feasts.” That’s the challenge we all face together: to begin our conversion with the awareness that sin can have deleterious effects in each of us if not attended to. What can be said of Adam Lanza with his crime, personal sin and affective disorder can happen to each of us. There is that line that’s sometimes helpful to remember: There I go but for Christ’s grace. The measure of life is not our passion but the Mystery of Christ.

The anxiety of these days is mitigated by what the Lord does in our hearts: He loves us.

I noticed in the first Scripture reading for today’s Mass the phrase: the Lord is near. It ought to echo for you where you hear the Great O Antiphon, O Emmanuel, God with us. Is that our belief? Is there a true awareness that the Lord is near in the way we live our lives in the particular circumstances in which we find ourselves? Are there concrete ways that we recognize the nearness of the Lord in His gift of the Holy Eucharist, in the proclamation of the Word, in lectio divina, in the community of faith that worships and does works of charity?

Advent’s First Sunday

At the Sunday Angelus today, the Holy Father notes some crucial points about our Christian faith that can’t go unheard and need to be savored deeply in the heart. Notice, please, that Benedict doesn’t talk about expectation but he does speak of the Lord’s coming and presence; his death and resurrection and our final destiny (that is, love) and doesn’t mention the Christ Child as the exclusive image of Advent. The Cross, resurrection and ascension is our only Hope. Pope Benedict addressed the faithful with the following:

Advent.jpg

Today the Church begins a new liturgical year, a path that is further enriched by the Year of Faith, 50 years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The first Time of this journey is Advent, composed, in the Roman Rite, of the four weeks that precede the Birth of the Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “Advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In the ancient world, it signified the coming of the king or the emperor into one of the provinces; in the language of Christians, it referred to the coming of God, to His presence in the world; a mystery that involves the whole of the cosmos and of history, but that recognises two culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first is the Incarnation itself; the second is the glorious return at the end of time. These two moments, chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how far apart they are – touch us deeply, because by His death and resurrection Jesus has already accomplished that transformation of humanity and of the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before that end, it is necessary that the Gospel be proclaimed to all nations, as Jesus says in the Gospel of Saint Mark. The coming of Christ is continuous; the world must be infused by His presence. This permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel requires our continual collaboration; and the Church, which is like the Betrothed, the promised Bride of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cfr. Rev. 21,9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord, in which His glorious return is already begun.

It is to this that the Word of God recalls us today, tracing out a line of conduct to pursue in order to be ready for the coming of the Lord. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to the disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life . . . Be vigilant at all times and pray.” So: simplicity and prayer. And the apostle Paul adds the invitation to “increase and abound in love” among ourselves and towards everyone, to strengthen our hearts and to be blameless in holiness (cfr. 1 Thess 3, 12-13). In the midst of the turmoil of the world, or the desert of indifference and materialism, Christians accept the salvation of God and witness to it by a different way of life, as a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah proclaims, “Jerusalem shall dwell safely; this is the name they shall call her: ‘The Lord our justice'” (Jer 33,16). The community of believers is a sign of the love of God, of His justice that is already present and working in history, but not yet fully realised, and that therefore should always be awaited, invoked, and sought after with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent, which consists of listening to God, a profound desire to do His will, and joyful service to others. Let us be guided by her, so that God who is coming may not find us closed or distracted, but might extend to each of us a small part of His kingdom of love, of justice, and of peace.

Living in Joyful Hope

Living in Joyful Hope Lewis.jpg

During Advent and Christmas we await and celebrate
the birth of Christ in order to tune our hearts to await and celebrate the
fulfillment of God’s “plan for the fullness of time, together up all things in
Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:10. What better way
to tune our hearts than by listening, with great care and attention to the work
of God?


In her book, Living in Joyful Hope, Suzanne Lewis offers short
verses from the Bible with reflections and prayers to serve as a springboard
for our personal reflection on the Word of God. Suzanne’s mediations are based on the theology of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Follow the link above.

First Sunday of Advent

Advent wreath 2011 St Catherine of Siena Church NYC.JPG

Therefore we are called to be vigilant because we do not know the ‘precise moment’ when the master will return to the house. The ‘house’ can be seen as an image of the Christian community which prepares itself with vigilance through prayer and works, to welcome the master. The ‘house’ can also be thought of as the spiritual dwelling of each of us that needs to be built daily.

Everyone must also take care to complete the work that God has entrusted to them, watching that they will not find themselves unprepared for the Lord when he comes. The season of Advent calls us to strengthen our spirit of prayer, carefully fighting the negligence and the weakness that makes us yield to sin.

Blessed John Henry Newman wrote in his spiritual diary that to be vigilant with Christ is to look ahead without forgetting the past. It is not to forget that He has suffered for us, it is to lose ourselves in contemplation of the grandeur of redemption. It is to continually renew the passion and agony of Christ – to cover with joy that mantle of affliction that Christ wore first and then left behind when he ascended into heaven. It is separation from this sensible world to join the life beyond the senses. This is how Christ will come, and come in the way he has said. (J. H. Newman, Diario spirituale e meditazione, 93).

Excerpts of a Letter for the First Sunday of Advent from the Congregation of Clergy

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O Antiphon: O Emmanuel

Mystical Nativity SBotticelli.jpgO Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio
Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.


O
Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and
their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God (Is 7:14; 33:22).

All is fulfilled now in Jesus. In the previous days you would have noticed the Messiah as he was expected in the Scriptures. Today, we address Jesus with the title given by God, Emmanuel –“God with us.”

The promise of God the Father pitching His among us is known so clearly in the Incarnation of the Word. This antiphon is the climax of all expectations for a Savior who ushers in a new time in history where everything, everything is reversed (see the Prophet Isaiah). “The very term Emmanuel, God with us, reveals the kindly, human heart of Jesus –He wants to be one of us, a Child of man, with all our human weakness and suffering; He wants to experience how hard it is to be man. He wants to remain with us to the end, He wants to dwell within us, He wants to make us share His nature” (Pius Parsch). Come, Lord, Jesus.

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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