It’s advent: don’t waste these precious days!
Quietly competing with the banal and boring commercialism of Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays extended sales is another invitation. But it cannot be heard outside in the streets or while listening to CNN. Instead we must silent all the shouts of the marketplace to listen to another voice…more like a whisper. This is a different kind of celebration –quieter, more intimate…a refuge. Lighting our Advent candles in hope, not naive optimism but the Hope that derives from faith.
I know, Christmas music, gifts and holiday parties are everywhere. The pressure to buy, buy, BUY! is palpable…whether a new tree, more and better decorations or an explicit promise “This year, I’ll have cards done and gifts bought by the second week in December!”
Or maybe Christmas evokes memories and images that sadden or anger from childhood or more recently recollections cause annoyance and disgust at Christmas in our wounded memories and imaginations. And so , we lash out at those closest to us, not understanding that anger and rage provide fuel to our demonic enemies.
The “shaking reality of Advent.”
Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many of the things that now shake and crush our lives. We would have come to terms with and judged the limits of our own competence.
But we have lived in a false confidence, in a delusional security; in our spiritual insanity we really believe we can bring the stars down from heaven and kindle flames of eternity in the world. We believe that with our own forces we can avert the dangers and banish night, switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe. We believe we can harness everything and fit it into an ultimate scheme that will last…
If we want Advent to transform us – our homes and hearts, and even nations – then the great question for us is whether we will come out of the convulsions of our time with this determination: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. a waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work – certain that the Lord will come – to set our life in God’s order wherever we can. Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth; where our life rebels he will reprimand it…Advent Of the Heart
Father Alfred Depp, author of Advent of the Heart, was hanged for treason a few months before WW ll ended, at the age of thirty-seven–on the same day as Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
But these words don’t read as irrelevant, as belonging to another time and place. Rather, we can hear, almost taste the urgency…”a waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work…”
How do we open ourselves up to the shaking reality of advent? Focusing not on Christmas but instead, it’s advent, don’t waste these precious days?
The most important work of all: set our lives and hearts in order. The Christian church gives us these days to do precisely that. We see the penitential colors on the altar and the robes of the priests. And know .we must silent all the shouts of the marketplace to listen to another voice…more like a whisper. Lighting our Advent candles in hope, not naive optimism but the Hope that derives from faith. Only hope permits our escaping the ‘four walls and prison windows of gray days.’
I had never heard of Advent before I became a Catholic. Nor did I grasp its extraordinary riches. Pondering sinless, Immaculate Mary: the first and only human being who is true to her nature: the likeness and image of God.
In his 2002 apostolic letter, On the Most Holy Rosary,
St. Pope John Paul ll wrote the rosary “blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.(1)
The joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous mysteries of the holy rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary are the life of Christ as seen through the eyes of the Virgin who bore him. Saint Pope John Paul writes that
The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary. It was in her womb that Christ was formed, receiving from her a human resemblance which points to an even greater spiritual closeness. No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the months that followed she began to sense his presence and to picture his features. When at last she gave birth to him in Bethlehem, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son, as she “wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger.
We know, do we not, the fact of the divine infant’s manger is no sentimentalized Hallmark story? The method and place of the birth of Christ is no happenstance because there was no room at the inn.
No, we grasp that the Divine Will decreed that Christ, the King of the Universe incarnated to become food for those who were lost.
And all human souls who have ever lived.
Therefore Fr. Delp’s chilling phrase: “the shaking reality of advent.” But as I write those words, my mouth twists into a rueful smile. How can I or any of us comprehend this extraordinary act of the Triune God?”
Just as Mary knows not to try to explain the Angel’s declaration, Hail full of grace…The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…to Joseph or anyone.
There were no words.
Therefore an angel of God was summoned to explain to Joseph in a dream.
Pope John Paul ll quotes a former Satanic priest who became a saint: In this regard Blessed Bartolo Longo has written: “Just as two friends, frequently in each other’s company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection”.(18)
Our purpose, as Catholic Christians is to conform ourselves to Christ. Pope John declares no better way than the school of Mary: the rosary.
“The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary’s side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). This role of Mary, totally grounded in that of Christ and radically subordinated to it, “in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power”.(20) This is the luminous principle expressed by the Second Vatican Council which I have so powerfully experienced in my own life and have made the basis of my episcopal motto: Totus Tuus
Numerous Christians and Catholics criticize the rosary prayers as too repetitive. And that the prayers address Mary, treating her as if she, not her Son was God. But for Saint Padre Pio, his daily rosary was a weapon against the powers of hell.
Is there another living soul who experienced the powers of hell as profoundly as did Mary?
It’s advent: don’t waste these precious days!
Make room for the divine child
Because of the emphasis on eschatology or the impending end times by so many Catholic and Christian bloggers, these several-century-old words of wisdom from St. Bernard feel critically necessary.