A Note From Fr. LeRoy
This weekend we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent and what is traditionally called, "Gaudete Sunday." The Latin word, "Gaudete!" means "Rejoice!" as in: "Gaudete in Domino Semper: iterum dico, gaudete." In other words: "Rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again, Rejoice!" These words are taken from our Entrance Antiphon for today's Mass and from our Second Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians (Phil 4,4f). It's a call and reminder for us that beneath this season of preparation and time of repentance (a sort of mini-Lent) that we need to "Rejoice" and remember that a Savior is born for us!
The Season of Advent originated as a fast of 40 days in preparation for Christmas and used to be called "St. Martin's Lent" a name it got since the 5th Cent. starting November 11th (the Feast of St. Martin of Tours). Later it was reduced to four weeks before Christmas beginning in the 9th century. The theme of Advent is centered on the 3- fold coming of Christ: 1) His first appearance at his birth. 2) His present coming to us during the Holidays. 3) His final coming at the end of time.
The theologian Henri Nouwen once described the difference between joy (as in Rejoice) and happiness. While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is the internal experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing, not sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war or even death can take that Love away. This kind of joy is present even in the midst of sadness. Pope Francis calls it the "Sunday of joy!"
Since Advent is a time that calls us to reflect, I would like to conclude with a meditation by Fr. Henri Nouwen that might help us put this wonder time of year into proper focus: "One of the discoveries we make in prayer is that the closer we get to God, the closer we come to all our brothers and sisters in the human family. God is not a private God. The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being. As we recognize God's presence in our own hearts, we can also recognize that presence in the heart of others, because the God who has chosen us as a dwelling place gives us the eyes to see the God who dwells in others. When we see only demons within ourselves, we can see only demons in others, but when we see God within ourselves, we see God also in others. When we pray, we will increasingly experience ourselves as part of a human family, infinitely bound by God who created us to share, all of us, in the divine Light. We are brothers and sisters, not competitors or rivals. We are children of the one God, not partisans of different gods. To pray, that is, to listen to the voice of the One who calls us the "beloved," is to learn that voice which excludes no one. Where I dwell, God dwells with me and where God dwells with me I find all my sisters and brothers." (Henri Nouwen)
Have a blessed rest of Advent!
Fr. LeRoy Scheierl