December 11-17, 2016
This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday or as Pope Francis calls it – Sunday of Joy. It is a time for us to recall the good things we have and experience every day. The word “gaudete” is based on the opening lines of the entrance antiphon of the Mass. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, ‘Rejoice.’ Indeed the Lord is near.” Phil. 4: 4-5
Somehow I recall the words of Henri Nouwen, a beloved spiritual writer. He says that “Happiness is based on external things; joy is the experience of knowing that we are loved unconditionally and nothing can take that away.” This assurance of God’s love should be a support for us in seeking forgiveness for our sins, whether great or small. Advent provides us with a time to patiently await the entrance of Jesus into our hearts. A heart that we have cleansed of all the debris. Each Holy Communion is an experience of this birth of Jesus we celebrate at Christmas time.
The description of the end time appears in Isaiah 35: 1-36; 10 “…then will the eyes of the blind be opened; the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag; then the tongue of the mute will sing.” The deeper meaning extends beyond the physical; the love and good works of God will be recognized; the Word of God will be heard and obeyed; the people will walk in righteousness, equity and justice and the singing of God’s praises will be heard throughout the Kingdom of God. When John the Baptist, a prisoner of Herod, asked his followers to inquire of Jesus, if he is the One-to-come. Jesus refers to this passage from Isaiah. John’s intent was to encourage his disciples to follow Jesus. He had already recognized who Jesus was at his Baptism. Matt. 11: 2-11
James 5: 7-10 reminds us to be patient…until the coming of the Lord. This perhaps is a good penance for all of us. We see so much impatience – road rage, abuse, war, angry words, pushing in line, me-first attitude and the list goes on. We need to learn to respect the space of another and to be gentle and humble as is the Lamb of God, Jesus.
Monday is the beautiful Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the lady who is clothed with the sun, moon and stars. The reference to this image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is found in Revelations 12. She is a pregnant woman who announces the coming of the King. Mary revealed this great mystery to St. Juan Diego, a humble Aztec Indian. Her shrine in Mexico City is one of the most visited in the world.
St. Lucy, a martyr of the fourth century, refused to worship the emperor as God. She predicted the deaths of her persecutors and the end of the persecutions. Her eyes were gouged out and she died by the sword.
She is the patroness of the blind and those with eye conditions.
In the sixteenth century St. John of the Cross, along with St. Teresa of Avila, reformed the Carmelites.
They returned to the original austere Rule of the Order. John of the Cross, though very strict and demanding, was a kind and charitable soul. He often experienced the dark night of the soul and was persecuted by certain members of the Order and the Church. He is considered a mystic and a poetic writer.
As we continue the Advent journey, may we support one another with love and forgiveness.
Sister Rosemarie, CSSF Director