Topic: Prayer

Br. Peter Junipero Hannah, O.P.'s picture

Resting for God

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We live in a workaholic culture. Production. Efficiency. Success. Go. And Keep Going. These are the watchwords of our busy society. Jewish and Christian tradition, however, places a high value--as in, it's a commandment--on the centrality of rest, leisure, and worship, for human life. For an observant Jew, to work on the Sabbath Day is equivalent to choosing to go back to slavery in Egypt! The Lord calls Christians too (indeed, he calls all) to rest in Him every Lord's Day. It is a commandment, yes, but one essential for offering worship to God and renewing the vital energies of our soul, mind, and body.  I've given this talk on many occasions--this one was recorded at a Theology on Tap event in Monterey, CA, in February of this year. Enjoy. And REST!

Br. Clement Lepak, OP's picture

Status Viatoris

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Pilgrims on Earth

The beatific vision of God is the goal of life and the perfection of our quest for holiness. The complete and final satisfaction of all our desires and pursuits is to rest in the divine embrace of the Most Holy Trinity. How can we grow closer to this goal and receive a foretaste of heaven while we are pilgrims on this earth? The central way is through the reception of the Blessed Sacrament at Mass. But Our Lord has also provided us a variety of means to sanctify and enrich our lives. Below you will find a short reflection on five ways to grow in holiness and seek God, all granted through His grace.

Making the Sign of the CrossLast Judgment Window, St. Albert's Priory

God, knowing the needs of our human condition as an embodied soul, has provided us physical signs that express and harmonize our interior state. The most prominent and recognizable is the making of the Sign of the Cross with our hand, crossing ourselves with thesignum crucis. The act itself is a prayer. When we combine the intention to worship God with the gesture it becomes a powerful aid to holiness and a defense against evil. It is a public witness to our status as children of God in His new covenant through the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Crucifixion and Resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. It is worthy of our careful attention and devotion, and can sanctify any place or moment. Saint Dominic was known to fortify himself repeatedly with the sign of the cross whenever he travelled. As we travel through this life we too fortify ourselves by making the sign with reverence and devotion.

 

Adoration

Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is a chance to spend time with the Lord in preparation for the reception of Eucharist at Mass. Discussion and directions on ways of ‘doing’ adoration abound, but they all rely on one simple fact: you must be there and spend time with the Lord. Imagine a man who tells his wife, “Honey, I love you so much that I’m going to go read a book about you in the other room instead of embracing you.” Absurd! How lamentable! Reading and studying about God is also essential but it doesn’t replace the actual act of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. The positive testimony of those who make adoration a consistent part of their Catholic faith is overwhelming. Put simply, it transforms lives and converts hearts. It strengthens the will to do good; it obliterates vices; it calms the troubled mind and prepares our mind to receive deeper insights when we do sit down to study. Only God knows completely what graces and gifts He has prepared for those who devote themselves to the Eucharist in adoration. It is rest, medicine and light for the pilgrims of earth.

 

Bowing and prostrations

When someone is out walking in the open fields it is natural to stop and gaze into the vast sky above. In the same way, when devotion grows in our hearts we naturally bow before the source of all that is good, the Holy One who offers eternal salvation. Saint Dominic would bow deeply whenever he passed by an image of Christ or a crucifix. He also had the private practice of fully prostrating himself on the ground in prayer, or of falling repeatedly to his knees before God. He also prayed by lifting his hands up above his head or spreading his arms wide in imitation of the cross as he stood at great or short lengths in prayer. This robust, manly saint prayed with his whole body and intellect yoked together in seeking God above all things. He was an ascetic who did not shy away from complete devotion, yet he did not become overly severe and intolerant to those weaker than him. On the contrary, he was known to be full of love, compassion and good humor. Olympic athletes, soldiers and even some musicians go through much more severe and exhausting training; shouldn’t we too express our devotion with appropriate ascetic practices?1

 

 

Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity

Here we have a mainly internal act, but you can lightly tap your hand on the wood of the pew, your desk or bed if it will help you concentrate on making an act of Faith, Hope and Love. An intentional act is an act. Whenever we choose, or will, to do something it is an act of some kind. The most obvious are physical acts, like picking up a book, pouring milk or throwing a ball. But speech and thoughts are also acts. We will and choose what to say and we can choose what to think, although random thoughts will always appear that are of little concern. What we are concerned with is what we actively, intentionally think. The acts of Faith, Hope and Love are thoughts that must be repeated, repeated, repeated. Habits of the will are formed through repetition; whatever you do, say or think again and again, will become habitual to you. You become disposed to a certain way of doing, saying and thinking until it stabilizes as a virtue or vice. Our minds are shaped, colored and molded by the objects we concentrate on or encounter frequently. By choosing to repeatedly give our thoughts over to God through acts of Faith, Hope and Love we dispose ourselves to listen to God and receive the gifts He wants to give us. In the end it is God who gives through grace: but he does not despise our efforts to grow in holiness. You will find numerous ways to formulate these acts of Faith, Hope and Love in any good Catholic prayer book. Here are three simple versions:


Act of Faith: Most Holy Trinity, I believe the truth you have revealed. Increase my faith. Amen.

 

Act of Hope: Father in Heaven, I hope in your great mercy. Grant me the gifts of the Holy Spirit as I look forward to eternal life through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Act of Charity: O God, I love you above all things. Through your Love I love myself and my neighbor. Amen.

 

May the daily repetition of the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity bring you much joy and consolation as you progress in holiness.


The Most Holy Name of Jesus

Finally, the word that has sustained men and women, monks and nuns, saints and sinners-who-are-becoming-saints, in every place, through all ages: the Name above every other name. The Most Holy Name of Jesus, be praised! Love the Name of Jesus. Let it be in your minds, on your lips and in your heart. The Most Holy Name of Jesus is the sure defense; it is light, joy and truth. At the Name of Jesus every knee should bend. May the Name of Jesus guide us. Whatever names or words we bend our minds and our wills to becomes our focus, to which our soul is continually drawn. All other names lead to false ways, despair and are man-made idols: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Romans 1:21). With God’s help we can scrutinize our life and be free of what is false, what holds us back from more consistent and dedicated worship; we can become more free to express the charity that is building in our lives through God’s free gift.

 

But rejoice you who honor the Most Holy Name! For by freely accepting Christ, it is the Good Shepherd who becomes our Lord and Master. We are drawn ever more into the loving depths of the Most Holy Trinity when we proclaim Jesus Christ is LORD. All the goods of the earth and of our earthly life are allowable when properly ordered to God. For the pilgrim on this earth the Most Holy Name of Jesus is found most fully in the reception of the Eucharist at Mass, a foretaste of the eternal Feast and beatific vision in heaven. Acts, signs and devotions assist us in leading a sacramental life. We have received from the Church established by Our Lord Jesus Christ the sacraments and a host of sacramentals, blessings and practices that flow from and must return to the Eucharist. Sanctification comes through grace, and the Blessed Body and Precious Blood consecrated on the altar by a priest is the central mystery and privilege of the Christian.

 

Finally, as social beings directed to God in community, it is an act of justice for the faithful to witness to the Gospel for the salvation of souls in public as well as at home. This is done whenever we make the sign of the cross or pray before a meal in a restaurant; when we truly say a blessing out loud when speaking to others; or when a religious friar, monk or sister wears the habit of their Order in daily life so that the non-converted may wonder about the holy calling, and the faithful be encouraged by those who seek God in the consecrated life. None of the above is done to draw attention to ourselves but solely to give to society what is due through justice. This justice must come from the heart, not simply legislation. But it is ultimately a matter of giving God what is due through proper worship, through acts of what is rightly called the "virtue of religion," a sure means to holiness. 

 

The Peace of the Risen Lord be with you!

 

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1 Prostrations are good for your back, blood circulation, reduce headaches, clear the mind for studies and relieve insomnia, but that’s just a bonus. Or is it? Maybe God created us so that physical and mental devotion would lead to some degree of physical and mental health. Perhaps what’s good for the soul redounds to the body in this life even as it will in the beatific vision to the glorified body.

Br. Clement Lepak, OP's picture

If You Are Angry...

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A conversation ends with a sudden: “You’re selfish. I can’t stand you anymore!” 

A phone is slammed down in rage: “AHHH! I’ll never speak to you again!”


Or the icy approach, “Oh, I see. Well, have a nice day.” Then the hurried shuffle away with hunched shoulders, red hands wringing, and plotting revenge. The grudge is on.


How exhausting. How useless. Is it really worth it?


We all get angry and there doesn’t seem to be an easy antidote. We seek calm to alleviate anger, but how can it be achieved when we must confront people at work, at home or at school who get on our nerves?


You may have tried everything with your opponent: reasoning, pleading, threatening. Nothing seems to change your encounters and you feel you just have to avoid them from now on. But have you tried prayer? Seriously, have you prayed for that person, the thorn in your side? Spiritual advisors sometimes ask us to place our enemies under the protection of Our Lord by devoting a period of time to praying for them.


How can this be done? By simply asking God to grant them all the graces He wants them to have so that our enemy or opponent will more deeply know the call to holiness and their hearts will be converted. You might start with a simple short prayer for them, once a day for two weeks. 

We find this promise in Scripture for those who pray for others: “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, and this will cure you: the heartfelt prayer of a good man works very powerfully. My brothers, if one of you strays away from the truth, and another brings him back to it, he may be sure that anyone who can bring back a sinner from the wrong way that he has taken will be saving a soul from death and covering up a great number of sins" (James 5:16, 19-20).


Notice that to be in the best disposition to pray for others we must have first confessed our own sins to one another. When we regularly attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation our lives begin to receive the tranquility that comes from order. Our hearts are freed to love God and to pray for our enemies; free to ask God to bless those who persecute us, or at least bother us. We are then able to give others the same consolation we have received from the sacraments.


It is, however, important to point out that anger itself is not a sin. In fact anger can be a good thing if it is directed at removing an evil. That’s why we have anger: to remove an obstacle that is perceived as threatening our own good. Every week during compline, the night office of the Church, we hear: “If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you” (Ephesians 4:26).

So if you’re angry at your cluttered desktop, use some of that anger to remove the obstacles. Clean it! But if you are angry at a person, then “let it be without sin,” pray for their holiness, for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to come upon them, for forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. May the Most Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ bring us holiness and peace.

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Br. Bradley Thomas Elliott, O.P.'s picture

My Journey from Lutheranism to the Eucharist (part two)

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Sola fide was our first and loudest battle cry. This was the core of our Lutheran Christian faith. It is truly impossible to understand the protestant movement and any Protestant communion springing from the Reformation, without understanding the importance of sola fide as the fulcrum of the theology. Indeed, it was Martin Luther’s main objection to the established doctrine of his time that the grace of Christ was open to all who place faith in Him, and faith alone, not because of any merit of their own, but solely due to the free gift of Christ. Salvation (freedom from the debt that I owe due to the burden of my sin) is given, more specifically imputed, to me as a sheer gift.

The story line would have run something like this. Humanity after the fall (and that means each and every individual) is in a state of separation from God irreparable by human effort. God is infinite; He is infinite in Glory, infinite in majesty and honor, and infinite in goodness. When our first parents sinned and violated the balance of justice by failing to give that infinite goodness the obedience it demanded, they incurred a punishment that was equal to the one offended; they owed a debt that was equal to the grandeur of the offended goodness. In other words, by sinning against the infinite God they incurred an infinite punishment. There is now an infinite debt owed to the infinite God.

But finite creatures could never pay an infinite debt: only an infinite being, equal to the dignity of the one offended, could offer a payment worthy of sin. This is precisely why the suffering and death of Christ was necessary to atone for sin. Because Christ was fully God and consubstantial with the Father in every way, He could satisfy the infinite anger of the Father by His death. And, due to Christ’s nature as man, the payment offered for sin can be offered to each and every man or woman who accepts it. [2]  

But here is the crux of the matter (no pun intended). Accepting this payment for sin (what salvation consisted of for me as a Lutheran) is accomplished on the part of each individual through an act of faith and this act alone. Once I place faith in Jesus Christ and his saving death for me, my debt of sin is erased and the punishment owed to God by me because of my sin is wiped clean; in other words, I am saved! This is what salvation consists of; this is the meaning of receiving salvation; not that I have done anything for God, anything for which He now owes to me salvation, but only that He has done this for me. I was barred from Heaven due to my sin and, now that my sin is gone, this access has once again been granted.[3]

It does not take a reader with deep insight to perceive the profoundly legalistic tone that this understanding of salvation presupposes. The entire narrative of creation, sin, fall, incarnation, redemption, and salvation, is seen through the purely legalistic lens where the primary, if not the only, analogate to sin is that of the breaking of a law, not one of a disease of the soul, nor one of a rupture of relationship. The entire cosmic drama of sin and salvation is read through the lens of law, debt, and legal punishment. Through this lens, the reality that bars me from union with God is not so much an intrinsic quality welling up from the depths of my soul (or lack of such a quality), but an external statute that has been imputed to me, declaring me unsuitable for union with God.  For Luther, sin provokes not so much the rupture of a relationship with God that I was born to enjoy (the fulfillment of which is heaven itself), but the external legal declaration that I am guilty of sin and am not owed such a relationship.

From such a perspective salvation does not consist in the transformation of my soul, but in a legal imputation. From such a perspective, once this legal banishment from heaven has been lifted, there remains nothing more for me to do. There is now nothing in my power that can add to or subtract from my legal standing before God. This was my understanding of freedom in Christ. This was my understanding of what being a Christian meant.

One might ask, “I thought this was an essay regarding the Catholic belief in the Eucharist: what does this system of salvation have to do with a belief in the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament?” The answer to such a question is, nothing! Absolutely nothing at all! And this is the whole point. There is no connection between the 16th century invention of a legalistic salvation in Christ and the belief in His real presence in the Sacrament. If I accept the system of sin and redemption posed by the 16th century reformers, a redemption that is played out entirely on the field of legal statutes and transposed punishment, where salvation occurs as a legal declaration external to me--if all this is the case, from where will I find a suitable meaning and purpose for Christ to come to me, flesh and blood? If the whole drama of my salvation occurs by a juridic fiat from God declaring me righteous, after which point He will only look upon me as possessing the legal requirements for heaven, what more could be effected in my soul by receiving the real presence of His Son?

Let me try to explain my point in another way, from the perspective of my personal experience of this dilemma. There was one point in my life, when I was about 19 years old, when the massive implications of belief in the real presence dawned on me. It was during a Lutheran church service where communion was being celebrated. I looked on the altar where the pastor was saying the words of institution and I realized that, if it is really true that Jesus is present here on the altar, if it is really true that He is here with the same intensity of presence by which He was present to the apostles, if this is really true, then what is happening on the altar in front of me is the most important thing in the world. If it is true that God has performed such a gesture of condescension that He comes down to me in His body and blood, no other point of the Christian faith could trump the meaning and significance of this event. What in the Christian life could be more important than being in this presence and receiving this presence? If it is true, what was happening there on the altar could never be a mere after thought to the Christian life or a mere supplement to the real heart of the faith. This event of Christ coming to us must be the true drama of the Christian life; this must be the source and summit of what it means to be a Christian.

Yet I still held that the entirety of my salvation was settled and done. I was saved. I had faith in Jesus as my Lord and nothing more could be added. Yet, if this were true, what could be the meaning of this profound and earth-shattering gesture of God to come to me in His body and blood? If this event on the altar was a mere remembrance, as many Protestants claim, why the real presence? Could we not remember Christ’s passion without such condescension of God? And if the appearance of bread and wine remain the same to our senses, what greater value would they have as mere stimulants to memory if Jesus were to become their invisible substance? There must be something more going on here. There must be some greater meaning to the real presence of Christ in the elements, beyond a mere memorial. This event must be loaded with profound meaning and significance for the state of my soul, right now, as I receive the sacrament.

The only answer to the shocking reality of the real presence was that Jesus Christ is coming into my soul to transform me from the inside out. He is, in His very flesh and blood, conforming me into a little Christ (a Christian in the true sense of the word), by feeding my body and soul with His very life. Jesus Christ has not, at one single time in the past, declared me righteous before His Father in one transaction of justice. He is instead making me righteous by transforming me into Him. He is making me just by transforming me into a Saint. Justification and salvation are not two separate events with two separate causes, they are merely two aspects of the same reality; the very transformation of my soul into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This is the heart of the Christian life: transformation in Christ.

What I was holding to as a Lutheran were two beliefs that were not synchronized with one another. In my struggle to sustain identity as a Protestant Christian I was pushing against two fronts, on opposite sides, with two very different arguments; arguments that, if one of them were true, would render the other difficult to explain, if not obsolete. Once I realized the profound meaning of Christ’s words when he said, “this is my body,” and “this is my blood,” I could never go back to believing the teaching that faith alone saved my soul. Christ’s true presence in the sacrament must be the source and summit of my Christian life. Christ’s life and presence in me is the salvation of my soul.

        

[2] This might sound similar to the reasoning of St. Anselm in his work “Cur Deus Homo” but there are subtle differences, the main one being the confusion and conflation of the terms “sacrifice” and “punishment”. It is our Catholic faith that Christ offered a “sacrifice” for sin, He was not “punished” for sin. But this is not an item for this present essay.


[3] This misunderstanding of salvation presupposes many errors regarding the notion of sin, the nature of heaven, the confusing of the terms “justification”, “atonement”, and “sanctification”, and the very nature of salvation itself. But it is beyond the scope of this essay to explain these matters.

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Br. Bradley Thomas Elliott, O.P.'s picture

My Journey from Lutheranism to the Eucharist (part one)

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The history of the church is filled with examples of great heretics turned orthodox faithful, and great intellectuals who, after pouring over the profoundest questions, discover the timeless truths of the Catholic faith. I wish that mine were one more of those stories. However, my journey to the Catholic Church is much less heroic than my hubris would like to flaunt and, although my imagination and memory can weave back into my own story a theological depth and insight that I have only subsequently acquired, my story lacked the sophistication that my current pride would like to boast. Far from proceeding through these lofty heights, my journey to embracing the Catholic teaching regarding the Eucharist is no more than one of a sincere believing Christian: trying to come to terms with his own beliefs, trying to take the tradition of Christianity that was handed on to him and distill out of its many tenants and beliefs the core of God’s message to him, trying to struggle with the God who he loves so much in order to grow closer to this God. Indeed (if there even is one) this is my only boast. All I wanted or desired, from the beginning of my path until the present day, was to understand God more deeply, to understand Him more so that I could love Him more, to love Him more in order to grow in union with Him.

I was raised as a Missouri Synod Lutheran in suburban Ohio and, like most Lutheran children, was very well educated in the faith. Perhaps it is a hangover from their Prussian and Teutonic roots that Lutherans take so seriously the catechizing of their young in the faith, but I did receive this blessing and, now as an adult, I am very grateful for it. I enjoyed a very thorough and systematic education in the scriptures and the propositions of Luther’s Small Catechism (the primary text that was studied second to scripture). When I was growing up, we had a strong identity as Lutherans. We were proud of being Lutheran. We were convinced that we knew precisely why we were Lutheran and why we were not anything else. Due to these strong convictions, the Missouri Synod Lutheranism within which I was raised was truly “Protestant” in the real sense of the word; that is, they had a strong sense of what they were NOT, of what they were pushing against and protesting. First, I learned that we were absolutely NOT Catholic; the Roman Church was the first enemy that needed avoiding. Second, I learned that we were not like the other non-sacramental reformed churches. We differed fundamentally from both of these groups and held a sort of golden mean between two radically different and erroneous extremes.

With regards to the first protest, that we were not Catholics, there were two pillars of our faith that identified us: sola fide, that salvation is by “faith alone” and not by righteous works; and sola scriptura, that all divine revelation is contained in the 66 books of sacred scripture (opposed to the Catholic 73 books) without deference to any magisterial hierarchical authority and only partial deference to church tradition which we saw as functioning merely as an interpretive aid for understanding scripture. For me, the more important of these two pillars, by far, was the belief in faith alone as the means of justification. Although Sola Scriptura was essential, sola fide was the core of my Christianity, as I will explain below.

With regards to the second protest, that we were not like the other non-sacramental churches springing from the protestant reformation, we rooted our identity in a great Lutheran teaching drilled into my head like the great “hear, O Israel” of the old testament, a truth that Martin Luther himself fought long and hard to preserve, the truth of the “real presence” of Christ in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. It might come as a surprise to many Catholics, but orthodox Lutherans place great stress on this point; there is emphasis placed upon Christ’s literal words at the last supper, “this is my body” and “this is my blood.” I was taught that, when I receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion (for this is what we called it; the word Eucharist was unknown to me until adulthood), I was truly receiving the “real” body and “real” blood of the Lord, Jesus Christ. This is what I was taught. This is what I understood.

As a child and as a teenager I did not question the word “real” in the phrase “real presence”; I just accepted it. I did not demand theological nuances like I later would; I did not demand an ontological explanation for how Christ’s presence could be “real” and yet the taste, smell, sight, and texture of bread and wine remain, as if they also endured as “real” as well. Luther’s Small Catechism expresses this reality by saying that Christ’s presence is “with, in, and under the bread.”[1]

Such a statement might seem simplistically metaphorical now, but at that time, it seemed good enough for me. I questioned no further. It is indeed true, as I would subsequently learn, that there are profound differences between the Catholic understanding of what takes place at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass designated by the word “transubstantiation” and what Lutheran and Anglican theologians understand as “consubstantiation,” but this is beyond the scope of this short essay. The point is this… I believed it. As a Lutheran, I believed that, in Holy Communion, the true body and blood of Jesus Christ came to me.

This was the Lutheran position, as I knew it; we were engaged in a two front battle for self-identity, perched, as the sole bearers of true Christianity, between two errors. On one side, we maintained a belief in the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, in opposition to the bulk of reformed Protestantism, and on the other we maintained that our salvation was by “faith alone” and not works in opposition to the ancient Church of Rome. As I mentioned above, it was on this latter front, the protest against the Catholic Church’s understanding of salvation as being a matter of faith and works, that our first and primary identity as Protestants rested. To understand this, let me focus on what the sola fide aspect of my faith truly meant.

To be continued in "My Journey from Lutheranism to the Eucharist (part two)"


 [1]"For the reason why, in addition to the expressions of Christ and St. Paul (the bread in the Supper is the body of Christ or the communion of the body of Christ), also the forms: under the bread, with the bread, in the bread [the body of Christ is present and offered], are employed, is that by means of them the papistical transubstantiation may be rejected and the sacramental union of the unchanged essence of the bread and of the body of Christ indicated." The Book of Concord: The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, (VII:35). http://bookofconcord.org/index.php, (referenced January 27th 2013).

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Br. Bradley Thomas Elliott, O.P.'s picture

The Divine Office

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As Dominicans, sanctifying each moment of the day by praying the Divine Office--the official prayer of the Church--is essential to our spirituality and the fulcrum of our common life. This short video, produced by the student brothers of the Western Dominican Province, is an attempt to expound upon the central roll that the Divine Office plays in our lives and express the profound joy of praying with the Chruch, for the Church, and in the heart of the Church. 

Br. Bradley Thomas Elliott, O.P.'s picture

The Lord is Coming

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As we celebrated the first day of Advent, I was called to reflect on the meaning of the Lord's coming. The readings for the Holy Mass were not what one might expect; they were not geared towards our Lord's coming as an infant. Instead, they were directed towards the final coming of Jesus at the end of time. The readings were marked by a gloom and doom that some might even find troubling as we begin this season of Hope and Joy. What is the reason for this?

It is indeed true that this season ought to be marked by hope and joyful anticipation of the Incarnation of the Son of God. But this is a joy totally unlike the earthly joy that often accompanies our temporal festivities. Our Christian Hope is not the hope of this present age -- this present world which will one day be passing away. No. Our hope, being the theological virtue that has God as its object, is focused like a laser beam on the world to come; the awesome promise we have in Jesus Christ -- that we will one day see God as He is in Himself, and, in that one perfect vision, be completely fulfilled. This is not a promise that can ever be realized in this life; it can never be achieved by a natural process or the exercise of our natural powers. This requires the grace of God given to us as a pure gift. This is the promise we hold by faith and it is only attainable by Grace.

This is the great meaning of the apocalyptic readings of today's liturgy. The meaning of Christ's coming as an infant in Bethlehem is only understood in the full light of that final coming at the end of time, when all will be complete, all will be subject to Christ, and Christ will be all-in-all. This is not yet a reality. But it is coming. We must stay vigilant. We must watch. We must keep ourselves prepared for the Lord who might come at any time. 

We do not know for sure when the Lord will come; no one knows the day or the hour. But one thing we do know for sure: THERE WILL BE A DAY AND AN HOUR OF HIS COMING! This is the truth that we must constantly keep before our eyes. As we progress through this awesome season of Advent, I pray that this reality will be realized in all of our lives.

Let us keep waiting!

Let us keep watching!

Stay vigilant!

The Lord is coming!

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