Sunday, December 5, 2010

Second Sunday of Advent

Stir up, O Lord, our hearts to prepare the ways of thy only-begotten Son: that by his coming we may be enabled to serve thee with a pure minds.
           -- Collect from the Second Sunday of Advent

Advent is a time of preparation, and as this collect suggests, a time of purification.  Traditionally, Advent was a time of fasting and penance.  For our eastern rite bretheren, it still is.  Vigils (the day before an important, high-ranking feast day -- not the feast itself celebrated on the day before) were days of fasting, so that each of the major feast days of the year was preceded by a day of fasting.  While these fasts are no longer required by Canon Law, let us strive to keep the penetential character of this season.  After all, the message of John the Baptist, who was sent to prepare the way for Christ, was "Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Also seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Ye brood of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come?" (from the Douay-Rheims version, Matt. 3:2 and 7).

We are preparing for the coming of Christ, not only as an infant king in the stable in Bethlehem, but also his coming at the end of the world, on that day of ire, When the world shall melt in fire ... As the Judge through gleaming rift Comes each soul to closely sift (Dies Irae, translation from The New Roman Missal by Father Lasance).  We are preparing for the coming of the King and Judge, and our house ought to be swept and clean.  Our souls ought to be clean.  A sacramental confession, then, would be a good preparation.

May we not be too blinded by the bright lights and colors and shining tinsel and glaring advertisements, nor too deafened by the blaring "Holiday music," to see and hear the still, quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit and prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of their King.

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