The Unwelcome Savior

'The Adoration of the Shepherds' Guido Reni

‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’  Guido Reni

God enters the world as a small infant. There is no room for him. . . no crib.

We are ungrateful children and haven’t known the value of Jesus’ visit. Light came to disperse the darkness; His message has gone unheeded. For on that cold winter night the angels did sing, but in vain. Our indifference has stifled their glad tidings. We were astonished, but only for a moment.

Jesus came into the darkness, the darkness of sin and death, but the darkness did not receive His light. Oh! if this Advent our darkness would desire and comprehend His light! Even if we don’t, the day will come when His justice will burst upon us in all its brilliance, and He will disperse all the spiritual darkness in man’s heart.

During Advent reflect on the state of our world before Christ’s coming. It was a world filled with darkness and sin. Then let us fill our hearts with gratitude towards Jesus who came down from heaven so that He might know our miserable state experiencing all of it, except for sin, and saving us from death.

Then let us reflect on His mysterious coming that He desires to accomplish in hearts. Let us open our hearts to receive Him more fully than ever before. He desires to enter there, to dwell there and transform us. Let us consent to receive this Divine guest. He knocks and asks to be let in. He delights to be born in our hearts. Do not refuse Him. Receive Him and let Him in.

This Advent let Him in and preserve Him within you as a great treasure. Let Him rest there where He can shape your thoughts and guide your actions to be like His. Welcome Him with love and care more than before.

The Virgin, weighed
with the Word of God
comes down the road:
if only you’ll shelter her.

~St. John of the Cross

In the Darkness of Advent

St. John of the Cross pic

What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.  –St John of the Cross, OCD

Advent is a time of waiting…waiting in the darkness where it is still and quiet. This season is also a time to establish the conditions I need to have in order to bring Christ into my life.

Night, these long winter nights, can be a time for prayer, waiting prayer. In this night of waiting prayer, I can remain before the Lord in silence. St. John of the Cross teaches that silence is the language the God hears best.

As St. John of the Cross reminds me, I need to remain in silence with my desires and tongue silenced. Thoughts and words are limiting. They limit my time with the Lord; therefore, I need to be present before Him with these silent and remain there in a state of interior quiet. It is in this silent waiting of my prayer through faith and love that will bring me to the God I am seeking.

In the darkness of Advent I can then see and adjust my responding after this time in silence. My response can then be to bring Christ into the lives of others, but first I need to begin by bringing Him into my own interior life.

Today is the Feast of St. John of the Cross who was and still is a good guide through the darkness that is faith. With him and his writings he will draw me to seek God in faith and love.

Awaken my Heart

Advent is a time where we await Jesus’ coming. He has already come in the flesh, and this is the reason for this liturgical season – to celebrate anew His coming as Savior and Redeemer. This is also a time to think about His second coming when He will come in Glory. In between these two comings He manifests Himself to us, and it is to these manifestations that we need to be Awake!

This Advent let us invite Him to join us in the interior of our heart: in deep recollection, in silence and in solitude. Invite Him in through a deep interior recollection combined with silence that is both interior and exterior and in solitude so that we can hear His voice and prepare for His coming however He may manifest His presence.

This is a season of quiet. A time to set aside useless chatter, self-love, sensitiveness, the prattle of fantasy and imaginings, and the thoughts that flit from here to there. In addition it is a time to get rid of any preoccupation with useless things, so that we can listen and hear the Lord speak. In this way we can be awake and attentive and will not miss “the time of His visitation”. (Luke 19:44)

“Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come…May he not come suddenly and find us sleepy.” (Mark 13)

IMG_4873

Advent and Christmas with St. John of the Cross

The poem, Romances, by St. John of the Cross is one most appropriate as a meditation for these last days of Advent, since it is one of his few works that takes up the themes of Advent and Christmas.

In Our Heavenly Father’s eyes, we are members of the Body of Christ. We are the Bride He has prepared for His Son from all eternity. In this poem St. John of the Cross paints a picture of this Bride.

This poem opens up a mystery that only those who say ‘yes’ to the Lord can fully see. And for us to do this we need to see with the eyes of Mary. Mary is the one person who was vigilant for the coming of the Lord. He came to her in her womb. More importantly, he came into her heart. He also yearns to come into our hearts.

The poem (which can be found here) ends with Mary holding her newborn babe, pondering how men acquainted with sorrow, now rejoice and how God so familiar with perfect joy, has found a way to take on man’s sorrows.

May our meditation on this poem help us appreciate this inexhaustible gift.

 baby in manger

An Ancient Prayer for Advent

Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Blessed Mother. Amen

an ancient prayer traditionally prayed daily from St. Andrew’s feast, November 30th, until Christmas

Where the Star is Leading Us

“When the days grow shorter and shorter, when – in normal winter – the first snowflakes fall, then quietly and softly thoughts of Christmas begin to surface, and from the mere word a certain magic exudes that affects every heart. Even those of other faiths, or of no faith at all, to whom the story of the Child of Bethlehem has no meaning, prepare for the feast and even make plans to convey its joy here or there. Months and weeks in advance, there flows a warmth like a stream of love over the whole world. A festival of love and joy – that is the star which beckons all mankind in the first winter months.

For the Christian, and especially for the Catholic Christian, it is yet something else. Him the star leads to the manger with the little Child who brings peace to earth. In countless endearing pictures, artists have created the scene for our eyes; ancient legends, replete with all the magic of childhood, sing to us about it. Whoever lives along with the Church hears the ancient chants and feels the longing of the spirit in the Advent hymns; and whoever is familiar with the inexhaustible fount of sacred liturgy is daily confronted by the great prophet of the Incarnation with his powerful word of warning and promise:
Drop down dew from above and let the clouds rain
the Just One! The Lord is near! Let us adore Him!
Come, Lord, and do not delay! Jerusalem, rejoice
with great joy, for you Saviour comes to you!

From 17 to 24 December, the great O Antiphons to the Magnificat call out with ever greater longing and fervour their ‘Come, to set us free’. And with still more promise (on the last Advent Sunday), ‘Behold, all is fulfilled’; then, finally, ‘Today you shall know that the Lord is coming and tomorrow you shall see his splendour’.

Yes, on that evening when the lights on the tree are lit and the gifts are being exchanged, that unfulfilled longing is still there groping for another ray of Light until the bells for Midnight Mass ring out, and the miracle of that Holy Night is renewed upon altars bedecked with lights and flowers: ‘And the Word was made flesh’. Now the moment of blessed fulfilment has arrived. “

(The Mystery of Christmas, Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), January 1931)

We Watch Hoping

The preface that follows is said in the Mass from the first Sunday of Advent to December 16th:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere
to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When he humbled himself to come among us as a man,
he fulfilled the plan you formed long ago and opened for us the way to salvation.

Now we watch for the day,
hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours
when Christ our Lord will come again in his glory.

And so, with all the choirs of angels
in heaven
we proclaim your glory
and join in their unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord…

(Taken from the Daily Roman Missal, Scepter Publishers, 1998)

Come Lord Jesus!

Spiritual Preparation for Advent

Advent comes from the Latin “adventus” and means “coming”. During this season we prepare our hearts to celebrate Christ’s coming into our world to redeem us. We also use this time to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming which we await in longing and great expectation.

There are many ways to spend the Advent season in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The best way is to do some spiritual exercises that will aid and deepen the understanding of this beautiful season.

One good exercise would be to study, pray for and practice the virtues mentioned in a previous post, humility and simplicity. These were exemplified in the Blessed Mother and this season is certainly a season that includes her.

Another practice, that would put the soul in the spirit of Advent while staying attuned to Holy Mother Church, would be to pray the Collects for the Sunday Masses during Advent while lighting the Advent wreath candles:

I. First Sunday of Advent
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and come,that by thy protection we may be rescued from the dangers that beset us through our sins; and be a Redeemer to deliver us; Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,ever one God, world without end.
May be said while lighting the first Advent Candle

II. Second Sunday of Advent

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the paths of thine Only-begotten Son: that we may worthily serve thee with hearts purified by His coming: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Often said while lighting the second Advent Candle

III. Third Sunday of Advent
We beseech thee to listen to our prayers, O Lord, and by the grace of thy coming enlighten our darkened minds: Thou who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
May be said while lighting the third advent candle

IV. Fourth Sunday of Advent
Pour forth thy power, O Lord, and come: Assist us by that mighty power, so that by thy grace and merciful kindness we may swiftly receive the salvation that our sins impede: Who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
May be said while lighting the fourth Advent Candle

One more beautiful practice during Advent would be to meditate on the richness of the words found in the Preface that opens the Eucharistic Prayer during the Mass. Read each slowly, reflecting on the words and their meaning. Let these enrich your spiritual life.


Come, Lord Jesus!