Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent - Preparing the Way of the Lord In Our Lives


As we enter into the third week of Advent, it is useful to reflect on this great liturgical season, in which we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Christ. This reflection is particularly necessary since we live in a modern culture that tends to forget why we celebrate this season, and is dominated by a frivolous celebration of some amorphous "Holiday." Behind massive green and red decorations, and vacuous and empty greetings, the reality of this season is hidden: the anticipation of the birth of Christ; the historical fact that the second person of the Trinity became a man, without losing His divine nature. Our culture makes a caricature of this feast by promoting a hollow and empty joy that in the end turns out to be disappointing and depressing.

Anticipating Christmas in a frivolous way tends to rob us of the preparation for this holy day. Due preparation allows for the event we are hoping to celebrate to take root in us. It is a form of maturity. One of the ways of describing maturity is the ability to delay satisfaction until the appropriate moment.

Effective societies have always known that a great celebration requires substantial preparation. Advent is fundamentally an interior preparation through prayer, meditation, and acts of charity and penance. These acts of charity and penance are a necessary part of being Christian, and they help to take us out of ourselves and our comfortable habits and distractions. Prayer deepens our sense of dependence on God, which is the main way in which we can relate to Him. Meditation on the birth of Our Savior strengthens the three supernatural virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.

Our Faith will become stronger that God the Almighty, Creator and Ruler of all that exists, has chosen a given moment of history to take human nature. Our Hope in His faithfulness becomes more solid because in Christmas the promises that God made in the Old Testament through the Patriarchs and the Prophets were fulfilled on that day in Bethlehem. In the readings of the Advent Liturgies, we hear the Old Testament give eloquent expression to the longing of all nations for a Redeemer: A longing that is as real today as it was two thousand years ago. We are impressed by the repeated and urgent appeals to the Messiah: "Come, delay no longer." If our contemporaries who see "the holidays" as primarily the best shopping season of the year were honest with themselves, they would be uttering this same appeal today, as all Christians did in the past. Our Charitable Love of God is strengthened by the meditation on all that He has done for us and by the expectation of all that we hope He will do for us in the future.

At the same time, in the midst of the secular city in which we live, we tend to experience His absence more than His presence, so it is right to pray that His coming be delayed no longer. The Lord guided His people in the past in preparation for His coming. He then made himself present through the incarnation and the Church that He established to continue the effects of His incarnation, and He will appear in an overwhelming way at the end of history. But the appearance that should concern us most is His presence in the here and now, in the midst of the society in which the Lord has placed us, because this presence is the only means of salvation for all that hear it and respond to it. We should prepare ourselves for this manifestation, this Epiphany of God in the society in which we live. For as members of the Church, we have to remember that we are the instruments that Christ has chosen to bear the salvation that He brought to us.

Advent is a liturgical season that is permeated with the virtue of hope, and the expectation of the birth of the Lord demands a personal and committed response from the faithful. After all, what is the use of receiving the only message that leads to salvation, if man is going to bury it in the ground, like the unfaithful or fearful servant? In this way Advent is emblematic of the whole life of man as a member of the Church Militant. He will receive the message of salvation, but this message can not remain within him; he has to share it with all the persons of the society where the Lord has placed him. He has to manifest this message in its integrity and its concreteness. He has to be ready to live it and to proclaim all the hard sayings of the Gospel, in season and out of season. He cannot be afraid of presenting them. The terrifying warnings that the Lord makes against those who add or take away from what is contained in the Book of Revelation do not refer only to the prophesies of this last book of the Bible, they refer to the entirety of the Catholic Doctrine.

The words of St. John the Baptist, announcing the arrival of Christ are a great source of consolation, because they can also be applied in a prophetic way to our times. In the same way that Christ was unknown to most of the hearers of the Holy Precursor, we ignore the existence of many holy young men and women who we are certain the Lord is preparing now to manifest his message in the midst of the desolate city in which we are living.

If we are committed to live and share the integrity of Our Lord's message, in particular on all the questions related to life and family, our life will be truly joyful and we will be able to truly experience the gladness of this holy season. We will experience a joy of which we will have a foretaste on this Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday; a joy that will give us the foretaste of the perfect happiness of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula
Interim President, Human Life International


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