Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent! I hope everyone has had a good Advent thus far! I know mine has been busy (especially this past week, finishing up with finals and doing lots of Christmas shopping). I wanted to thank you guys for your prayers for my eyes. They seem to be doing a bit better. I did go to an eye doctor to get them checked out but he only told me that I might have dry eyes. The migraines have decreased somewhat too, so that’s been good. Again, thank you to everyone who offered up some prayers for me! I really appreciate it!
I’m sorry my journal updates haven’t been particularly profound or very spiritually enriching of late. I was looking back at some of my older past journals and I think I just did a better job in general keeping up with things. Anyway, today I want to share some beautiful readings with you guys. These both come from the Church’s Office of the Readings and I’ve found these to be particularly beautiful and moving, especially since our readings at Mass today had to do with the Annunciation and David’s desire to build a temple for the Lord. I hope you guys enjoy them too. Merry Christmas everyone! God bless you!
“You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.
Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.”
- In Praise of the Virgin Mother, by St. Bernard of Clairvaux
“When the angel revealed his message to the Virgin Mary he gave her a sign to win her trust. He told her of the motherhood of an old and barren woman to show that God is able to do all that he wills.
When she hears this Mary sets out for the hill country. She does not disbelieve God’s word; she feels no uncertainty over the message or doubt about the sign. She goes eager in purpose, dutiful in conscience, hastening for joy.
Filled with God, where would she hasten but to the heights? The Holy Spirit does not proceed by slow, laborious efforts. Quickly, too, the blessings of her coming and the Lord’s presence are made clear: as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child leapt in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Notice the contrast and the choice of words. Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the meaning of the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s: a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.
The child leaps in the womb; the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, he fills his mother with the same Spirit. John leaps for you, and the spirit of Mary rejoices in her turn. When John leaps for joy Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we know that though Mary’s spirit rejoices she does not need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Her son, who is beyond our understanding, is active in his mother in a way beyond our understanding. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving John, while Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit before conceiving the Lord. Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.
You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.
Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. In another place we read: Magnify the Lord with me. The Lord is magnified, not because the human voice can add anything to God but because he is magnified within us. Christ is the image of God, and if the soul does what is right and holy, it magnifies that image of God, in whose likeness it was created and, in magnifying the image of God, the soul has a share in its greatness and is exalted.”
- from a commentary on Luke by Saint Ambrose
Beginning on the 17th of December, the Church begins to use the seven “O Antiphons” during Evening Prayer on the days preceding Christmas, calling on the Lord Jesus to hasten quickly and come to His people by invoking a number of His great Messianic titles. These are:Maranatha
December 17th - O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18th - O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19th - O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20th - O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21st - O Oriens (O Rising Sun)
December 22nd - O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
December 23rd - O Emmanuel )(“God with us)
If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ERO CRAS are formed, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come." Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, "Tomorrow, I will come." So the "O Antiphons" not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion."
! Come Lord Jesus!
The first purple candle in the Advent Wreath symbolizes Hope.
The second purple candle in the Advent Wreath symbolizes Love.
The third rose candle in the Advent Wreath symbolizes Joy.
The fourth purple candle in the Advent Wreath symbolizes Peace.
Advent Wreath Pax Vobiscum! Valete! ~Omnes ad Iesum per Mariam~ Your Sister in Christ, * ~ Theophilia ~ * New art e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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