Monday, December 24, 2012

Adeste Fideles

In under three hours I will head off to prepare to serve the Vigil of Christmas, and am soaking up the end of the time of waiting by listening to the festive Gregorian chant that has been shelved during Advent save for the Immaculate Conception. I'm also trying to re-learn the Gloria in excelsis Deo in Latin (and English), since it's been three weeks since we last sang it.

Pope Benedict at Christmas a few years ago
This year Advent has been really good for me. From listening to Father Z's special Advent messages, or reading and writing, I think I've really grown a lot. I have looked forward to Christmas because it is the birth of Our Savior, and am joyfully awaiting the return of Christ the King.

Christmas is not something to understand in fully human terms, for the means of our redemption through the Incarnation of Christ is a mystery. God gave His Only-Begotten Son to us out of love, but His methods are not for us to know, only the visible action. Usually I am the person who must understand the little steps of how something works. In calculus for example, I can't stand when my teacher works through the algebra, and simplifies something without explaining how she did it. But, I stand in awe of the mysteries of the Faith, which will be made known to us when we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The archetype for that coming of Christ, which we might call a "spiritual incarnation", is always Mary. Just as the Virgin Mother pondered in her heart on the Word made flesh, so every individual soul and the entire Church are called during their earthly pilgrimage to wait for Christ who comes and to welcome him with faith and love ever new.-Pope Benedict XVI
Always through Mary do we come closer to Christ her Son, and always should we make room for Him in our hearts.
And for your edification:
It is true that the mystery is past, I recognize it, and that it happened only once, but the grace of the mystery is not, in fact, past for the souls who prepare themselves to give birth to Jesus Christ in their heart. He was born one time in Bethlehem, and he is born every day in us with Holy Communion, which, as the Fathers say, is an extension of the Incarnation.
Do you know why Our Lord did not want to be born in the city of Jerusalem? It is because there all was full of creatures; there was not a single empty house. All was full of business or something other. He preferred to be born in a poor stable, empty and abandoned. This demonstrates to us that, if we want Jesus to abide in us, we must empty ourselves of all things, withour exception. This being done, He will impress in us His spirit, His life, His inclinations, and in such a soul one will see only Jesus.
Those who have received this grace, will be recognized easily by their docility and simplicity, the companion virtues of holy childhood. Who are the first to come to the Infant Jesus to offer Him homage? Poor folk, shepherds. It is what the Gospel says: "Ye who are little, come unto Me." Only the humble are worthy of learning secrets so divine, hidden from the great ones of the earth, who are precisely the proud. The more a soul is little, the more will God communicate Himself to her. He goes to seek her out in the depth of her nothingness, where He fills her with all Himself.-Mother Mectilde de Bar (+1698)
Another thought: I wonder what St. Joseph felt like. I'm not always sure that the image of him fretting is quite right. After his encounter with an angel, and his marriage to the Blessed Mother, how could he lack trust in the Lord? Where did this idea of him worrying come from anyways? Our Lady gives no indications of this in her relation of the Nativity to St. Luke the Evangelist.  I know, I know, he took on the biggest responsibility ever known to man namely, the care of Mary ever-virgin, and Christ Jesus, Innocence itself. I have a better picture in mind. St. Joseph was the kind of guy who strapped up his sandals, got up, and did what needed to be done, and was always calm and patient, no matter how hard the task was. I bet it was a Protestant concoction anyways.

I hope everybody has a Merry Christmas, or is, if you are reading this from across the pond where undoubtedly the Christmas holiday (dare I say holy day?) is underway by now. Pax vobiscum and God bless.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your thoughts about St. Joseph. He may have worried a wee bit since he was human, and was subject to sin, but I think he had so much more grace than the rest of us that he didn't get sidetracked by worry like we do. And being in the company of Mary, I would think the graces that flow to and through her would encompass him. How could you be in the company of Our Blessed Mother and fret? No way.