Christmas – The Light Among The Darkness

We are going into our third year of the COVID pandemic and it is beating us down, making us tired of the ‘new normal’ and pushing us into hopelessness and despair. It is a darkness that does not seem to have any ending. But it is still Christmas, and we are in the middle of the Octave of Christmas. We are celebrating the gift of light among the darkness. ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.[1] Christ is born!! Light is piercing these dark times. Hope is come among us.

The Octave of Christmas allows us to dive deeply and celebrate what the Nativity of Lord means to us and our journey; and this 8 day celebration of Christmas more important this year than other years. The Octave is celebrated with different feast days that bring the import of Christ’s birth to us.

Usually, the day after Christmas[2] we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, one of the first seven deacons and the first disciple to be martyred. He witnessed to the strength of faith and the love he had for Jesus in the face tremendous adversities. His darkness was profound, he was stoned to death, but the love of God pierced the darkness and showed him the path.

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.[3]

Stephen’s witness to Christ stirred the hearts of at least one, Saul, soon to be the Apostle Paul. His story shows how Jesus stirs our hearts as well if we let him. The final moments of St. Stephen show us that light is brighter than darkness is dark, Love is stronger than fear and hate, Hope defeats despair. By his martyrdom, he provides assurance that the darkness of COVID is temporary, it is God that is eternal.

The following day is the Feast of St. John. St. John testifies to the love and hope of God in his Gospel. He testifies to the birth of our Lord in those beautiful words that Holy Mother Church has used during the Mass of Christmas day for millennia:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.[4]

He witnessed to the Light that destroys darkness.

The following day we celebrate a horrible action that is yet a hopeful sign; the Feast of the Holy Innocents – a massacre of terrible proportions, a tragedy beyond all comprehension, and the hope that shines through its awfulness; the Love of God that makes good come from darkness. To mankind it seems that God allows these tragedies, but God does not will the death of any of His creation. He won’t prevent death, but He will bring good from it. We have hope in the knowledge, that God is always with us, come what may; and, that in spite the darkness, if we follow the light, we will win through to the glory and peace of our eternal home. As with the three men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego)[5] in the fiery furnace, if we submit to will of God and embrace the light of Christ we too will triumph.

The memorial of St. Thomas Becket comes next. We celebrate a man that reached great heights in this world. He was the chancellor to King Henry II of England and the archbishop of Canterberry. All of which did not prevent him from being murdered by order of his king. His triumph was his strength in the face of trials and following God over others. He understood that ‘…because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.[6] he did not fear the darkness of men.

The Feast of the Holy Family, which is always on the Sunday within the Octave, we celebrate the strength of the Holy Family and by extension our own families. The struggles that Mary and Joseph had were considerable, overwhelming; darkness seemed to envelope them, but their faith strengthened them; they not only embraced the light but gave birth to it and nurtured it. And this is what our families should do. Our families are witnesses to this strength and love; or should be. It is within the family that faith is given birth and nurtured; parents witnessing to the love that they received and grew up on. Our family is the domestic church, where we grow within the embrace of Christ. Our family is the living witness to the Holy Trinity – dynamic, self-giving love – the help we give and receive through love. Families pass forward the light that was given to them. From our first entrance into the mystical body of Christ we have the light is given to us. In baptism we light a candle for the child and pass it to a godparent or parent hearing the words: ‘Receive the light of Christ.’ The celebrant then says: ‘Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.[7] Families are that important and God is within each to help.

The Octave of Christmas ends with the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. She is our mother too. Her faith and life brought her to the Annunciation and God’s choice of her as Mother to His Son. This Solemnity not only celebrates the Blessed Mother and her journey in light but it brings us back to the Nativity.  Her life is a life of faith! And faith brings hope and hope resides in the Light. Throughout our lives we return to the Christmas season to remind ourselves of the Light; we are children of the Light, and we reflect this Light to those in darkness. It is important to remember and reaffirm this truth, we are children of the Light, and as children of the Light we reflect it with our lives because we know this Light brings the hope of salvation.  There is an old saying: ‘the shadow of the cross falls back across the manager’ meaning Christ was born to die for us and this is important for us to embrace; but more important is for us to realize that there is no shadow without light – the Light of the resurrection.

[1] Isaiah 9:2
[2] This year the day after the Solemnity of the Nativity of Lord is the Feast of the Holy Family
[3] Acts 7:55-58
[4] John 1:1-5
[5] Daniel 3: 8-25
[6] 1 John 2
[7] Rite of Catholic Baptism

A Small Yes

Advent and we are now in the intense preparation of receiving our Lord in the manager. Though out the year, during the Nicene Creed we bow at the words ‘and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.[1] To recognize the great event of God entering history as one of us. But on two days during the year we genuflect to show the vast importance of this event: The Solemnity of the Annunciation and the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas). To show that it was at these two moments in the life of Mary, of the world, that God entered our lives intimately. That almighty God the creator of the universe through an action by a creature of His was able to enter time and change it forever. It was meant to be this way. The creator wouldn’t come to his creation without its fiat. ‘God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.[2] St Augustine wrote.

And He was received by a little virgin in an unknown corner of an unimportant region in a small and insignificant realm. Mary’s small yes changed the world, changed humanity, allowed salvation to enter time. She gave it a name and a face. She did more with one word of acceptance than the combined works of total history of mankind. It is no wonder that here at the end of Advent, Holy Mother Church proclaims to us all the Annunciation. Her start is our start so may each of us allow her fiat to saturate our very being so that we, using her words, allows God to enter our part of history.

Come Lord Jesus!

[2] St. Augustine, Sermo 169, 11, 13: PL 38, 923.


Gaudete 2020

To many, Advent season and Christmastide tend to blend together. Many view Advent as countdown to Christmas and the Advent wreath helps with this countdown. When the pink candle is lit we are getting close. The decorations are full, and we hear the carols everywhere.

If you ask me what my favorite Christmas Carol is, I will probably pick the one that is playing at that moment (however, I do have limits: the one with Grandma and a Reindeer come to mind and Chipmunks are not my favorite singers). These carols evoke strong emotions and bring back great memories and lessons. Some seem almost undecipherable, ‘Auld Lang Syne’? But beautiful feelings are still evoked. Some seem awkward, archaic, and maybe in need of updating, ‘Joy to the World’[1] comes to mind.

I have noticed that, lately, some of the newer recordings of the ‘Joy to the World’ have the first line changed. Instead of ‘Joy to World, the Lord is come’ I have heard ‘Joy to the World, the Lord has come.’ Though this updating seems to be a more readable and modern translation, it changes the meaning – the meaning goes from present to past tense; it numbs us to the power of the intended proclamation.

Today’s readings provide insight as to why the original words, in the present tense, are important to meaning of this carol: ‘Joy to the World’. In a very real way, this 3rd Sunday in Advent can claim ‘Joy to the World’ as its carol.

The 3rd Sunday of Advent, like the fourth Sunday of Lent, is a favorite of mine. The penitential aspect, the introspective reflective attitude of the Advent Season gives way to a burst of joy; this is reason we wear these rose vestments (I don’t wear pink because it is my favorite color). This is why it is called Gaudete Sunday.

If we followed the primary option[2] for the entrance rite at Mass we would have heard these words at the beginning:

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Dominus enim prope est.
Rejoice in the Lord always: I say it again, rejoice. The Lord is near.

Holy Mother Church gives us beautiful entrance antiphons as its primary option[3] for the entrance rite because they speak specifically to the readings and lessons of each Mass/Season. There are other options and here at SJB we choose to use Hymns, and though they sometimes speak of the theme for the Mass, it is the Introit, the entrance antiphons option, that most clearly introduces us to the Mass. And this Sunday we proclaim and celebrate the joyous realization, that the Messiah is already here – He is near us already. The Lord is come. And we rejoice.

The readings today, that we just heard, speak of this realization. In today’s First Reading[4] Isaiah reminds us that the coming of the Anointed of the Lord, the Messiah, brings good things and is a cause for rejoicing. Indeed, the anointed one is here, and he brings:

  • good news to the poor,
  • healing to the sad and grieving,
  • freedom to the imprisoned and enslaved,
  • a blessed time,
  • and vindication—being cleared from blame for past faults.

And what is more, Isaiah doesn’t just proclaim the arrival of the Anointed One; but he tells us how we should react. ‘I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul…[5] he tells us.  We rejoice because the Messiah is arriving now.

In today’s Second Reading[6] St. Paul reminds us that joy should be our attitude at all times, ‘Rejoice always.[7] he writes.  All our trials and troubles pale compared to the joy our Lord is bringing us. We rejoice because even though holiness is hard, Our Lord has promised He will help us, we just have to let ourselves be led by His Spirit; and He is arriving right now to help.

In today’s Gospel[8] John the Baptist tells the priests, Levites, and Pharisees that he is not the Messiah, but that the Messiah has arrived, and he is heralding him. The Messiah is not coming. He is already here and just hasn’t “gone public” yet. He is already among us, but hidden, waiting to be revealed.

Gaudete Sunday proclaims loudly one of three comings that the whole season of Advent is about – that the Lord is here and coming to us. Indeed, in spite of the important preparatory aspect of Advent, the very meaning of the word ‘Advent’ speaks of the nearness of the Lord. Advent, by historical definition is an action, it means to be in the midst of an arrival. It doesn’t look into the past (that the arrival already happened), nor does it look into the future (that the arrival will happen). Though hope in the future is part of the meaning; it is looking at the present, at the now. It was used to describe the entrance of a king. And though the Advent season looks first to His final coming and then to His first coming in Bethlehem, it is foundational to the season that He is also in front of us, arriving at where we are – now. His arrival within us is current and it is active. We should be constantly preparing ourselves for this action.

Today, we heard St. John the Baptist – herald of Christ proclaim: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord.’”[9] And when challenged he proclaims, ‘there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.[10] His words joyfully proclaim the Lord with us, ‘Emmanuel’. He urges us to make our hearts ready, as the Lord comes to us, so we can receive Him.

All the great ministries that we can participate in, the vocations that God calls us to, should be built on this constant arrival. Each and every day we should rejoice as we allow the Lord to arrive into our hearts. Our acceptance of this arrival manifests in us the profound gifts Christ brings – hope, peace, joy and love.

Brothers and sisters, as we enter the final weeks of Advent lets ask the Lord to open our hearts to these gifts of His arrival so that we can witness to the world the meaning of those beautiful words from that seemingly archaic carol ‘Joy to World the Lord is come.’


[1] Joy to the World – Isaac Watts
[2] GIRM paragraph 48
[3] ibid
[4] IS 61:1-2A, 10-11
[5] IS 61:10
[6] 1 THES 5:16-24
[7] 1 THES 5:16
[8] JN 1:6-8, 19-28
[9] JN 1:23
[10] Jn 1:26-27

First Believer

This day we celebrate that God is born man. That our salvation is offered to us through the babe. The angels rejoiced at this amazing gift for us, we are loved. But today, Mary witnesses the fruit of her belief. It was Mary who believed in God and by doing so brought salvation into the world. She is the first of believers and her belief in God guides us as her children in our faith. We believe because she believed before us. May our Blessed Mother always be in our hearts and my we always look to her for belief in her Son.

Mark Our Calendars

On this feast day, The Epiphany of the Lord, Holy Mother Church does something that at first glance doesn’t seem to fit with the celebration, something out of place. She proclaims an announcement; a sort of housekeeping chore, where she announces future dates of the liturgical year – the moveable dates.

But let’s look deeper at this celebration of Epiphany, in particular – the Magi. Their competence was in the science of the heavens, astronomers. The field was more than just cold science, it was much more encompassing, and it was colored with philosophy and religions.  They looked to the stars not so much to understand the stars as they did to understand the meaning of life both now and what lies ahead for mankind; they were guided by the stars towards the future.  But these particular Magi were truly wise people in that they were learned who knew they didn’t know everything.

This star, the star that they expected and hoped for appeared as they thought. However, this star called to them, urged them forward to explore it’s meaning for being there.  They understood from a foreign religion that it revealed a new king in a far-off kingdom. But there were many kingdoms and many kings and rulers, why would the heavens announce this one? They went far to understand what this meant for them. What they learned was epiphanic, life changing. The gospel tells us they were not the same afterwards, they went home by a different route. They grew.

Brothers and sisters Holy Mother Church, in her great wisdom, gives us these moments for epiphanies throughout the year. Events, that if we participate in whole-heartedly, celebrate properly, reflect on devoutly, will bring us an increase in wisdom and faith. They will enable us to open ourselves to a deeper understanding of who we are and are meant to be.  It is not surprising that on the Solemnity of the Epiphany we hear proclaimed the Announcement of Easter and Moveable Feasts. These star-like points on the liturgical calendar will lead us to the same person that the Magi found at the end of their journey. They will lead us to our Lord and we too will never be the same afterwards. Let’s mark our calendars

Merry Christmas!

Living Our Life

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen and for me, a deacon, it is a special feast day.  I make sure to read his account in the Acts of the Apostles. Quite a heroic ‘play’, Stephen out-argues the established intelligentsia, doesn’t fear the outcome (death) and proclaims great words. Usually when I am done I reflect on what he did and whether I could do the same, then I pray for the strength that he had.

All of this is good. But this year I am struck by the idea that his great acts weren’t things he all-of-a-sudden did; his actions are really the result of how he lived his life.  That he fearlessly held to the truth regardless of the outcome was the result of his firm understanding of the truth and that God was with him always.  His, ability to pray for those who gave false witness and those who stoned him wasn’t some great feat of will that he had to dig deep for but came from the daily love of neighbor that he had.  These events in his life were not some heroic self-sacrifice that he rose to, but was the result of another sacrifice that he knew was for him.  He was a loving servant of Christ!

C.S. Lewis wrote: ‘Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.[1] Brothers and sisters, this is the paradigm of a Christian, we recognize the truth of Jesus Christ in which contains the knowledge that Jesus is within everyone. When we can obtain this paradigm then those ‘great acts of heroism’ we are called to are actually just living our life as always.

St. Stephen pray for us.
Merry Christmas!

[1] C.S. Lewis, ‘The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses’

Radiant Beauty of Unnoticed Minutes

This past Thursday, the senior staff of the parish where I work, along with the pastor, sat in a classroom and celebrated our year in serving the mission of the parish, and of course the upcoming Christmas. There were just the five of us, celebrating in an empty parish since we closed the office at noon. The main part of our celebration was watching the movie ‘The Nativity Story’.  We ‘gifted’ this movie to the rest of the staff, but we sat together and watched it.

I have seen this movie a few times, it is always a beautiful and spiritually fruitful experience.  Today, however, I was struck with something that, though obvious now, I seemed to have missed in the past. What we were watching was a movie about individuals trying to follow their faith in the daily trials of their lives. Towards the end, at the birth of Christ, the movie powerfully showed two people, man and wife, who had gone through so much together, enduring the fear and joy of childbirth, alone. They were facing the next trial of their lives which was parenthood, and they were also facing a new phase of their faith life. Could they raise the child of God? Could their wisdom and love bring to adulthood God Himself? Were they worthy of such trust? I kept reflecting on that throughout the rest of the day and during the evening I remembered the Responsory of morning prayer that day in the Liturgy of the Hours.

You will see his glory within you;
The Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.[1]

Brothers and sisters, as we enter the celebration of the Nativity of Lord, as we gaze with our hearts in amazement and humility at the baby in the crib, God Himself, let’s remember that it was the daily lives of Mary and Joseph, that brought us this celebration. It was by struggling through each day of their lives, through the temptations and hardships of life, that Mary and Joseph participated with God in His incarnation and nativity. No great plan on their part, it was just living their lives as best as they could by following God that mankind is given the chance to receive God’s gift of salvation.

Let’s remember and follow their example. It is not doing great things that we bring the Kingdom Heaven to earth as much as it by living our lives in faith, day by day, seemingly unnoticed, that the great things God offers comes about. St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote: ‘Have you noticed how human love consists of little things? Well, divine love also consists of little things.[2] It is by living as Mary and Joseph did, and the countless saints since, that we will truly see His glory within us, and by doing so the Lord will continue to dawn on us in His radiant beauty.

May the God of mercy and love reign in our hearts, especially in those ‘unnoticed minutes’ of our lives.

Merry Christmas!


[1] Responsory for Advent Lauds (Morning Prayer) in the Liturgy of the Hours.
[2] St. Josemaría Escrivá ,The Way #824

He, Who Can Heal Us

One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that the secular holiday season of ‘Xmas’ has gotten more and more withdrawn. In spite of the increased decorations and festive environment the interaction among the people out and about has become less. People used to smile and wish each other good will; there were events that drew them together and they were well attended. There was fellowship, regardless of any religious meaning. This has seemingly diminished greatly – and I have to ask myself why.

There is a societal numbness today that is the result of a loneliness, an isolation that comes from, as Fr. Thomas White writes: ‘the negative peace of nonjudgmental tolerance.[1] Modern society has built itself into a great amalgam of views and attitudes, life styles and choices. This amalgam of life philosophies allows each of us to find our own path to happiness which is a false happiness – a false peace of heart. It offers a ‘peace through coexistence’ by allowing each of us to detach ourselves from those around us because they don’t adhere to our understanding of truth and happiness. In reality it is a false peace of coexistence by not co-existing. There is nothing to bring us together in a healthy fellowship. There is no internal fulfillment, because mankind is meant to be together. So, as evidenced in the holiday scene people pass each other by oblivious to anything except their selves – a social numbness.

As I just mentioned, this mindset of individual philosophies of life doesn’t bring us to fulfillment and mankind needs to be fulfilled in order to have real peace in our hearts. This is shown by the manic tint of the daily experience that comes from the hunger for wholeness not addressed by these individualistic philosophies of modern society. Why? Maybe because philosophies are cold, lifeless exercises of the mind not the heart. Maybe because philosophies look within and away from others. Maybe because philosophies don’t offer and accept human emotion. Maybe because philosophies can’t affect the soul. In short, maybe because philosophies don’t offer love. Men and women need to feel loved, they need to embrace and be embraced. Mankind needs to realize the true value of each other and celebrate it. We need relationship not philosophy.

There is a gap between what mankind is striving for and what they are meant for. This gap has been around since the fall of Adam and Eve. That our society has taken it to new and aggressive limits is worrying, but in varying degrees and intensities it has always been there. We can see it in the great and ancient O’Antiphons that we started to celebrate yesterday. We can also see in the O’Antiphons the answer to this philosophical malady – Jesus Christ. Christ is the love that brings all other love together and makes it healthy. Christ is the fulfillment of mankind’s needs and goal to their journey. Christ is the center of what mankind needs the most – relationship – love! It shows us the realization of what is important – Jesus Christ – a person, not a philosophy. When we proclaim the O’Antiphons we are calling out to a person who is the:

Guide of creation,
Giver of law,
Sign of God’s love,
Opener of gates,
Splendor of eternal light and sun of justice,
King and keystone.
Who is: God with us.

We call to Him who are these things, and we ask Him to do something for us, to:

Teach us,
Rescue us,
Save us,
Free us,
Shine on us,
Come to us,
Be with us,

Brothers and sisters, we have now reached the time in the Advent season when we turn our minds and hearts to the great medicine for modern society. We start to focus on the start of what gives us hope and shows us total fulfillment – Christmas. When the transcendent God, aloof from mankind and almost an abstract indifferent ideal, made Himself present to us, real. When the true philosophy of life, the one that makes everyone whole, became touchable and touching, lovable and loving.  Let’s prepare ourselves to allow His touch, His love, tangible and real, to affect our hearts, to affect our minds, and maybe just as important to do the same, through our witness, to those we encounter. The O’Antiphons, after all, are not just titles of Christ and petitions to Him, they are also charges to each of us and actions required of us. Because, Emmanuel, God with us, is more effective, more fruitful, when we bring Him to each other as gift.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

May your Christmas be a blessed one.
May the infant Christ reign in your hearts and minds, and guide you in your witness of His love.


The O’Antiphons

December 17
O Come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

December 18
O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times didst give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

December 19
O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
from ev’ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

December 20
O Come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav’nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh.

December 21
O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

December 22
O Come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven’s peace.

December 23
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

[1] Catholicism In An Age Of Discontent, Thomas Joseph White, O.P., First Things, November 2016

Memory and Hope

I am always on the lookout for those ‘cute and clever’ church signs that are supposed to get you think. They do, but probably not in the way the volunteer intended. Last week a church in town had the following ‘Looking back keeps you from moving forward’ Considering that we are in the season of Advent I couldn’t help but reflect this message.

Modern society is all about today, never yesterday. Not just today, but what today can do for tomorrow. The past is the past and isn’t that important; a curiosity at best, but irrelevant to my life now. It is truly all about the goals of tomorrow.  I have to plan, act, react and struggle today for what I have planned tomorrow. There is not much ‘enjoying the moment’ in society today.

There is no better example of this then the secular holiday season Xmas (Xmas as opposed to the holy celebration of Christmas). Hectic activity pointing towards a special day ahead of us.  Not just the great gift-giving day of Xmas, but the parties and events that lead up to it. Pressure, deadlines, responsibilities, and the ever-present fear of not being able to make that certain day special. We put up holiday lights, make holiday food and treats, listen to holiday music in an almost manic way. But to sit back and actually enjoy the moment, remember times past, relax and be at peace with the present – well – that is something in books and movies.

This so-called modern understanding is also why it is so hard for people to embrace the religious season of Advent. Two reasons come to mind:

The first reason is that the Advent season comes in middle of this secular Xmas Season. More accurately, Advent was always there but this manic secular season has pushed Advent out of the way.

The second reason is that Advent is counter intuitive to those who live within this ‘memory disconnect malady’ because Advent looks to the uncertain future with a certainty from what happened in the past. As we enter into the Advent Season the message we are confronted with are the last things of life: death, judgement, heaven and hell; but we are given an assured hope with the message Advent brings us towards the end – memory of our past. Christ the judge has already shown us His love and mercy by coming among us. He knows us and He desires a positive outcome for each of us. The Advent season brings the great and good news that what happened is still happening, and what will happen is already happening.

Christ, who came among us 2,000 years ago and showed us the way and His mercy, is among us today continuing to show His mercy and give us His grace. We are not alone on this journey to the final judgement, we still have the benefit of His presence. And, of course, the end of days, the final judgement, eternity, is not something that is to come so much as it is the end of what is happening now. We are living in eternity right now – Christ’s judgement is what is guiding us on the true path home. Christ gives us the knowledge of how to achieve Heaven, He gives us His love to strengthen and urge us on and His mercy when we stumble.

Brothers and sisters, Advent is the cure for this ‘memory disconnect malady’ that affects the world today. It gives us peace about the future because of what happened in the past. It brings joy to our hearts because of the knowledge that our past is with us in the present and won’t leave us in the future. The phrase that I saw on the Church sign can be answered with another phrase: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’[1]

[1] HEB 13:8

Art of Love

As I opened my Breviary this morning I realized that this was a sort of special Good Friday (as if Good Friday wasn’t special enough). Today, is March 25th, and if it wasn’t Holy Week we would be celebrating the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the feast of the incarnation of our Lord. As I reflected on the import of the symbolism that the day of His death is being celebrated on the day of His conception it brought me back to the early representations of the manger scene.  In those paintings and other artworks[1] you could see Jesus in the swaddling bands that also were used in death.

Here is a powerful lesson in just what our Lord came to do.  He had a mission and that mission is each of us. But I fear that this understanding and appreciation of what God did for us and what we mean to Him has been faded in the past 100 years.  Does our Lord’s passion impact us as it should? And when I say ‘us’ I mean ‘me’ first and foremost.

I pray that this year I can open myself up to the greatest act of love ever. I pray that this year I can allow the grief of what I did to our God to bring the sting it should; and the overwhelming wave of unworthiness and joy explode in my heart for His 33 year act of love for me.

I wish the same for each of us.

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.


[1] Such as:
The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekial, 1308-11 by Duccio
Nativity by Jacopo Torriti
Nativity Scene Fresco (1310) by Giotto Di Bondone
Stained Glass at St. Denis Basilica in Paris (ca 1100s)
Madonna and Child (1319) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti