Posted by: Deborah | November 29, 2011

Advent – 2011

Pope Benedict’s Anglelus Address for the First Sunday in Advent helps us to begin this beautiful season well.  Commenting on the Mass Readings, he said:

“…”Stay awake!” This is Jesus’ call in today’s Gospel. He directs it not only to his disciples, but to everyone: “Stay awake! (Mt, Mk 13:37)…

“Isaiah, the prophet of Advent, also makes us think today with his heartfelt prayer addressed to God in the name of his people. He dwells on the shortcomings of his people and at a certain point says: ‘There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hands of iniquity’. How can we not be struck by this description? It seems to reflect certain aspects of the post-modern world: cities where life has become anonymous and horizontal, where God seems to be absent and only man is master, as if he were the universal architect. Building, work, economy, transport, science, technology, everything seems to depend only upon man. And at times, in this apparently perfect world, terrible things happen, either in nature or society, which make us think that God has withdrawn and has, so to say, left us to our own devices.

“In reality, the real ‘master’ of the world is not man but God. The Gospel says: ‘stay awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly’. Advent comes every year to remind us of this fact, that our lives might find their just orientation towards the face of God. The face not of a ‘master’, but of a Father and a Friend”.

How very important it is to listen to the Pope’s urging:  “Stay awake”!  There is so little evidence of Advent around us.   Most of the world is busy preparing for the “Holidays”, with  little or no thought of Christ’s Coming.  Even we who participated in the Advent liturgy on Sunday, may have forgotten the purple vestments and the lighting of the Advent candle already.  I wonder sometimes how many Catholics appreciate the season of Advent.  How many stop to ponder that  purple is a color of penance?  How many ponder the painful longing of the world weighted down by sin before Jesus?  How many think of the stillness of that moment of Incarnation, or that moment of Birth or the Humility of God Who became Man for Love of us?  There seems so little stillness or quiet, unless we resolve to quiet our souls, and resolve to find stillness in our hearts for prayer.

As Advent begins I am often especially mindful of Mary, as she waited to see the Face of God made Man who dwelt within her womb.  This year, however, I am also mindful in a deeper way than in previous years of St. Joseph, her humble and righteous husband.

By God’s Grace, St. Joseph was certainly awake, as Mary was, to the coming of our Savior.  They knew the longing of the whole people of God to see the fulfillment of His Promise.  How did they prepare for Christ’s Coming?  I believe that prayer, (as St. John Vianney defines prayer :  “Prayer is nothing other than union with God”) is the key.

Like us, Mary and Joseph lived (seemingly) ordinary lives, but “ordinary” only as to the external appearances.  Interiorly, they were “watching and waiting” with the lamps of Love’s Fire burning  in their hearts.  While Joseph was preparing wood in his carpenter’s shop and Mary was preparing food in their home, what Great Work God was accomplishing in their souls!   For they did all their work in a spirit of love – with their whole hearts, and souls and minds and strength.  The hardships they endured and their joys were offered in love.  When the Father looked upon them He was pleased.  His Son Jesus resting within Mary’s womb was adored, and loved;  Jesus was safe and protected by Joseph.  How the world needs other Marys and other Josephs today to welcome Him!

The image below is a wood-carving, entitled, “St. Joseph, Shadow of the Eternal Father” and I believe it conveys the beautiful work God accomplished in Joseph.  It speaks also to the work God, our Master Artisan and Loving Father,  wills to accomplish in each soul who longs to receive Him.  This Advent is a time of preparation not only to remember Christ’s First Coming, but His also His continual coming to us, especially in Eucharist, and that Final Coming when at last He comes to take us to our Eternal Home.   St. Joseph can help us this Advent to gaze upon both Mary and Jesus, and learn as he did to become the saint each of us is called to be.

The world needs saints!  We need to bring Jesus into the world as Mary did and defend Him as Joseph did.  We need to bring His Light into the darkness that keeps us from knowing, loving, and serving Him as we were born to do.  May this Advent be more simple, more quiet and more loving interiorly — no matter what our exterior situations may be.  If we are called to go somewhere unexpectedly, so were Mary and Joseph.  Let us trust God as they did.  Will we face difficulties?  Let us trust God as Mary and Joseph did.  This Christmas may we hold the Eucharistic Jesus in the poor stable of our hearts as they did and know in newer deeper ways, the perfect joy Mary and Joseph knew sharing  utter poverty of spirit with Him.

Blessed Advent 2011 to all!


Responses

  1. When in a state of grace, we become more intimate with God and find more serenity in the Holy Eucharist, especially during this season.

    The Holy Eucharist is a gift in which Jesus gives us His body, Soul and Divinity under the appearance of bread and wine.

    He hides His infinite glory, His beauty, His Majesty in the Holy Eucharist because He wants us to come to Him in faith and demonstrate that we love Him for Himself.

    The Holy Eucharist is truly a mystery which incorporates everything God has done for our salvation.

    Something one should humbly contemplate during this beautiful season.

    In Christ,

    Gene

    • Dear Gene,

      Thanks for your reply. In St. Faustina’s Diary, she mentions that Jesus often appeared to her as a Child before Holy Communion.

      When she asked Him why He appeared as a Child, He told her that He wanted her to learn His Humility. This is not an exact quote, of course, but simply as I remembered reading it. Your post reminded me of that connection between the Humility of God coming to us as a vulnerable, little Baby, and His likewise coming to us as a simple, little host in the celebration of Eucharist.

      We do not fear the littleness of The Christ Child nor the littleness of The Consecrated Host, and yet in both is hidden the Infinitely Humble and Loving God.

      Yes, may we ponder with Mary and Joseph, all the saints and angels, the wonder of God’s Love, this holy season of Advent, and always.


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