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.

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[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

The Third Advent

Advent, the season that starts the new liturgical year celebrates three comings of Christ.  All three comings start from His action, but one requires our constant participation. The beginning of the season, where we are right now, celebrates the eschatological coming at the end of time.  When Christ comes in glory to finish the story of mankind’s salvation.  Around Gaudete Sunday, next Sunday, we start to celebrate the nativital coming of Christ as one of us.  The incarnation and birth of God almighty as a man. When to our great amazement and gratitude He took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of man. When, as Cardinal Ratzinger wrote ‘the great other, God almighty, became small’; or as I am fond of saying: the action that allows to kneel in humility and look God straight in the eye.  Two powerful events that bring God among us.

But today’s Mass the Collect prays about the third coming.

May no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company

And the Gospel relates to us the same third coming.  ‘At that time Jerusalem, all Judea and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him,

This third coming, is a constant advent – allowing Christ to come to us in our hearts every day.  For the first Advent, the nativity, to bear fruit; and for the final coming to be glorious for each us we must constantly go out to meet our lord, we need to participate in this personal coming, we need to throw open our hearts and minds and allow Christ and His message to enter, to reside within us.  Bishop Kaffer, of fond memory, once told a class that I was in that when an evangelical street preacher stopped and asked him ‘Have you been saved? He responded with the only Catholic answer – which is ‘I was saved yesterday and hope to be saved today and every day.

May this season of Advent strengthen our ability to throw open our doors and allow Christ to enter so that we can the ‘produce good fruit’ that Christmas offered to us and be ready for the final coming, a home coming.