Advent greetings everybody. I don’t think I have to remind you that Advent is my favorite liturgical season. It is, of course, the great season of expectation and anticipation. It is a time of wonder and a deep and abiding sense of the fulfillment of promise and the opening of a new age.
I think I have used these themes with you in different times over the years I have served as your Bishop, but I think the message, like Advent itself, bears repeating and these themes make it easy for us to think about this great season. There are three ways of considering Advent and the coming of Christ: first, in History; second, in Mystery; and third, in Majesty.
We remember Christ coming as the Babe of Bethlehem and the entire wondrous miracle of the Christmas story. All of this allows us to consider the Incarnation— the manifestation of God in human flesh in our human history.
The second coming of Christ is in the Mystery of the Eucharist—the living and Real Presence of the same Jesus—Son of God and Son of Mary—made manifest for us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Mysterious and Sacred Presence of Jesus until the end of time. Then, finally, the appearance of Christ in Majesty at the end of time. The liturgical season of Advent calls our attention to each of these three “comings” of Christ and opens our minds, and hearts, and souls to the promises of God and the manifestations of Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Prayer is a joyful method of keeping us aware of the promises of future and realized glory as we make our way through the weeks of Advent. Keep alert, maintain your vision in Christ. He will keep His promise, He is with us, and He will come again. Come, Lord Jesus!
As we make our way into the season of “counting our blessings” and giving thanks, it is appropriate that we are sincere about remembering where all those blessings come from. I notice more and more, in our very busy society, that many people are assuming more of the credit for things that go right in their lives and less of the blame for things that often “go up in smoke” due to their failure to plan or think things through with good reasoning and logic. In those latter cases the “blame” goes to God as a sign that He just doesn’t care.
the movie White Christmas, one of the
great scenes between Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney takes place when they
both head to the dining room of the inn at which they are staying for
Christmas. Bing describes to Rosemary the kind of sandwiches the innkeeper has
left for them. Choosing a particular kind of sandwich, says he, will determine
the quality of the dreams you’ll have during the night. The basic idea, explains
Mr. Crosby, is that if you want pleasant dreams, count your blessings—the best
way to fall asleep. I often tell people to pray the Rosary at bedtime. If you
fall asleep during your prayers, the angels will finish them. This goes deeper
than just counting your blessings—it’s reassuring for the One who guarantees
all our dreams in the first place.
addition, Jesus gives us a special banquet at which we can be truly thankful
for all those gifts—all those blessings. It’s so special that we speak about it
as a special Thanksgiving Meal—the Eucharist.
Eucharist means thanksgiving and we would do well to remember that every time
we come to Mass. Be thankful that the Son of God has come among us. He shared
our joys and our sorrows, our highs and our lows. He has freed us from the
tyranny of the devil and given us the true liberty of the children of God. “If
the Son has set us free, then we are free indeed.” (Jn. 8:36) What an
incredibly marvelous thought for us to ponder as we give thanks!
Teresa of Avila helps us to consider the glory and awesomeness of God in all
things. She teaches: “In all created
things discern the Providence and Wisdom of God, and in all things give Him
thanks.” This is a “starter” that may serve as a good place to begin the
conversation at the Thanksgiving Table this year … maybe a little better than
politics and such.