Wednesday of the fourth week of Advent
Our King and Lawgiver,
The hope of nations and their Savior:
Come and save us,
O Lord our God!
~ The Eighth O-Antiphon
Emmanuel, they tell us you are “God-with-us.”
Where are you, Emmanuel?
Are you here?
Are you here in the messiness of our lives?
In the midst of this pandemic?
Can you really ransom us from our captivities,
our slaveries to addictions, our hatreds and grudges and jealousies that eat us up and spit us out?
Our guilts, our “coulda, shoulda, wouldas — our druthers and regrets?
Our lethargy, our hopelessness, our slumber, our rage?
O Israel! O America!
Do you want Emmanuel to come?
Do We want you to? (Do I?)
Many languish in mourning in this pandemic, Emmanuel,
in exiles made by Wall Street and homelessness and sickness
and loneliness and selfishness.
Many a young heart mourns / aches for direction and meaning and love.
Prisoners waste away. Such a waste of young lives!
Will you ransom their hearts, and souls Emmanuel?
Our hearts and souls?
Will you truly rain down justice as the psalmist says?
Yes, O come, Emmanuel!
Even though we can sometimes hardly be with ourselves, Lord.
Captivate us, inhale us with Your love.
Dazzle us with hope and new life and possibility.
Yes, Emmanuel! We believe you will come.
Maybe not today or tomorrow.
You will transform the secret longings of our souls.
We will dance and sing and embrace You and each other
because you came among us, Emmanuel.
You ARE with us, Emmanuel.
Because of You our being becomes “being-in-love!”
We rejoice! We give thanks! We believe!
Come, Lord Jesus! Yes, Lord Jesus, come.
Brothers and sisters, Christmas is two days away. Let each one of us give thanks
– and receive again in a new way
such a precious, wondrous love,
such a wonderful gift.
Here is a YouTube presentation of the powerful hymn sung by Steve Green “What wondrous love is this?
And here are today’s Mass readings about ol’ Zechariah being struck dumb because . . . Click here
Tuesday of Fourth Week of Advent
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
Come and free the prisoners of darkness!
~ The O Antiphon for December 20th
Father Alfred Delp, S.J. aptly wrote two years after I was born about being shaken up, as so many of us feel in our world today, unsettled as we are by political events in our own country, especially this past year with the pandemic with hundreds of thousand of deaths and a contested election and having to spend days on end sheltering in place and the loneliness which that has brought about for so many of us.
Fr. Delp wrote with his hands in shackles in his prison cell in Berlin, just before he was hanged for high treason in 1945, three months before the war ended. His ashes were scattered on the winds; Hitler wanted him forgotten. (His writings were smuggled out of prison.) In a widely published article, The Shaking Reality of Advent, he wrote:
There is nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up.
Where life is firm we need to have a sense of its firmness;
and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, no foundation,
we need to know this too and endure it.
We may ask God why he sent us in this time,
why he has sent this whirlwind on the earth,
why he keeps us in this chaos where all appears hopeless
and dark and why there seems to be no end to this in sight.
I found Father Delp’s message considerably consoling in the light of what our country and our world situation is in at the moment. He goes on . . . .
Here is the message of Advent:
faced with him who is the Last,
the world will begin to shake.
The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth. [ . . . . .]
If we are inwardly unshaken, inwardly incapable of being genuinely shaken,
if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap,
then God will himself intervene in world events and teach us what it means to be placed in this agitation and be stirred inwardly.
Remember, that Father Delp was talking about the disastrous times of war-torn Germany in 1945.
God of mercy and compassion,
our times are quite like the days Father Delp was writing about.
We, too, need to be shaken from our complacency.
Even in recent years ~ and this year too ~ hatred and bullying and fear has increased among our people.
We need you, Lord!
Come among us once again and shake us up to the reality of your justice!
And as the O Antiphon shouts:
Free the prisoners of darkness among us ~
The poor, those imprisoned unjustly, those without healthcare, the unemployed, those about to be evicted, the homeless,
the DREAMERS who’ve got a reprieve from being deported,
and migrants all over the world in search of safe harbor.
And so so many more crying out to us, pleading for mercy and our love.
Come Lord Jesus and do not delay!
And now, before you go, here’s Josh Groban singing J. S. Bach’s awesome Jesu, Joy of man’s desiring. Click here.
And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.
Alfred Delp, S.J. The Shaking Reality of Advent / translated by the Plough Publishing Company
O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
~ O Antiphons
Monday of the fourth week of Advent
There sometimes can be a lot of depression swirling around at Christmastime especially at the end of this loooong year when most of us have had to spend long days and nights pent up in our homes. I’ve talked to several friends who spoke to me about their loneliness in the past couple of days.
Some of us can feel lonelier because we’re expected to be cheerful and we may just not feel much Christmas joy, but instead may feel plain down in the dumps or like diving into the bottom of a bottle.
This blog is meant for us to notice and reach out to our friends and pray for them.
Let’s be with those who have lost a loved one and still miss them.
Let’s also remember kids who are shuffled back from one parent to another to “celebrate” the holidays; that’s got to be a terrible thing to do to children.
And what about service men and women away from their families and others who have to work long hours and come home to an empty house.
And so, may we pray:
There are sometimes dark clouds in our lives, Jesus.
Pierce the gloominess of our lives with Your very own Light.
May we allow You to dawn in us this day.
May we be ready for Your dawning in a new way in our lives this Christmas.
May this celebration of Your birth bring meaning and joy in the midst of our worries and concerns.
And may we BE the dawning of your light and love and justice
in our homes, our neighborhoods, our jobs, our world.
And there are dark and ominous clouds over our world too, Lord.
Pierce our greed and hate, fear and complacency and violence with hope, Lord.
May we pray earnestly for a new dawn for our beloved country and our world.
May we BE the dawning of your light, your love and your justice in our land.
Lord Jesus, come!
We need Your Light and Your Love now more than ever.
And earthy religions celebrate the Winter Solstice, the beginning of the ascendancy of the sun in the northern hemisphere on Monday, December 21 at 5:02 am. It happened before most of us put our toes on the floor this morning at 5:02am for most of my readers.
(Christianity subsumed pagan celebrations into its own. Christmas trees came to us from Germanic pagan customs. And actually, it’s because of the winter solstice that we celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th at the time of the solstice. Remember St. John the Baptist saying, ” I must decrease; he must increase?” Thus, our Christmas celebration comes when the sun is on the ascendancy again, and we shared it with our ~ um ~ pagan sisters and brothers who celebrated it long before we did!)
And before you go, here’s ~ “His yoke is easy” from Handel’s Messiah. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.
Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 20, 2020
Few things have ever been written in the history of the world that can approach the lyric beauty of the Gospel of Luke today. No matter how many times we read it, we are immersed in its majestic simplicity.
This moment in history had been foretold since the days of creation, when it was promised that a woman would give birth to the One who would vanquish the power of Satan. If the moment had been orchestrated by Madison Avenue, it would’ve been surrounded by pomp and circumstance, proclaimed far and wide. As usual, though, God’s ways are not our ways.
The word that had been awaited for centuries came silently as the sunrise, to a young girl in an obscure village, a young one who, until that moment, had but one significant event to anticipate: She was to wed the local carpenter.
Now, with a few soft-spoken words from an angel, and her “Fiat!, her resounding Yes, / her “let it be done according to thy word,” she became the central figure in the plan of Redemption, without whom / God’s plan would not be fulfilled.
(God needed Mary’s YES!)
This was not the first time God had sent a messenger to announce the birth of a child in extraordinary circumstances. Remember Sarah and her husband, Abraham? They had exhausted every hope of having a child of their own, for they were far beyond the age of childbearing. But since nothing is impossible with God, Sarah conceived and bore a son whom they named Isaac, as God had directed.
Centuries later, the scene is repeated: Zechariah and Elizabeth had despaired of having a child, for both were advanced in age. But Elizabeth conceived and bore a child, John the Baptist,whose entire life would be dedicated to one purpose ~ to prepare the way of the Lord.
Now the centuries of prophecy are about to be fulfilled. Again, there is an unlikely conception, for Mary was yet a virgin. Again that this most unlikely of all births might become a reality, God’s intervention was needed. Gabriel, messenger of the Most High, assures her . . .
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born from of your womb will be called holy, the Son of God.”
All that had transpired in salvation history up to this moment hung in the balance waiting for this girl’s response: She took her time. She questioned the angel. and then she finally said, Yes. “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.”
And then the angel left her, leaving for her and Joseph to work out the details, some of which were going to be quite problematic.
We’ll hear the Nativity story in four days. Today, I invite you to think about the whole story, as though you were thinking about it for the first time. Consider what a wild, crazy, loving thing God did! God created us, when he didn’t have to, simply because he wanted to share his love and his joy. We sinned, rejected God, decided to go our own way, and created a huge distance between God and us. You would think that God would say, “OK, have it your own way, then, but be prepared for the consequences.” But he didn’t. Instead, God decided to bridge that distance and repair the damage that we did.
How? First of all, by becoming one of us. A real, living, breathing, in-the-flesh human being who was also God. And not by coming down in overpowering glory and majesty. No, by being conceived in the womb of a young woman, a teenager, actually. And then by being born not in a palace but in a stable, a shelter for animals, on the outskirts of a small town, in a country that was not one of the big players in the power and politics of the time.
Does this make sense? Is this a normal way of behaving – considering that the person doing it is almighty God, creator and Lord of the universe? No. this doesn’t make a shred of common sense. This is the action of someone absolutely consumed by infinite love for people who were not acting lovably. We get so used to hearing this story that we say, “Well, sure, of course!” when it ought to take our breath away.
Today, as preparation for the great Christmas feast that’s coming in four days, let’s try to appreciate in anew the stunning immensity of God’s love for us ~ God’s desire to get us back when we were gone astray as the Christmas carol says.
Let us say Yes to God as Mary did.
A Yes that opens us up to his great love.
A Yes that shares his love with our family,
with our neighborhood,
with our work place,
with our country,
with all the world.
In a few days we will celebrate the birth of Mary’s child, a birth as striking in its simplicity as was the announcement by Gabriel. Perhaps, during these few days, we would do well to ask Mary to help us prepare our hearts for his coming, as she did. Better than anyone else, she knows how to do that.
And now, before you go, here’s the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with a glorious rendition of Handel’s “And the Glory of the Lord. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.
Advent Day 17 ~ Thursday of the third week of Advent – (Hanukkah Day 7)
Advent themes are all about waiting for light to shine in our darkness.
For we who are Christians we await, Jesus, Yeshua, who is for us the Light of the World.
We prepare a place for him to shine in our own hearts this day.
We invite you to search out your own inner meaning whatever that might be.
On this the seventh day of Hanukkah we honor our Jewish brothers and sisters with these words
that appear in the Catholic liturgy just before Christmas, one of the magnificent O Antiphons:
O Adonai and Ruler of the House of Israel,
you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and on Mount Sinai gave him your law.
Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us.
And my prayer . . .
O Adonai*, we need you in our world more than ever!
You appeared in the burning bush long ago.
I remember this awesome sunrise over the ocean when I lived some years ago on St. Augustine Beach, Florida.
I’m reminded of the old sailor’s maxim: “Red at night, a sailor’s delight; red in the morning, sailors take warning.”
Come with your refiner’s fire and burn your way into our hearts.
so we can prepare the way for the Messiah to come into our lives,
into our homes,
our workplace and marketplace,
and, most especially into our beloved country that so badly needs You right now,
and our waiting world!
Come Lord Jesus!
What are the “O” Antiphons?”
If you’re interested in learning more about them, here’s a website that has information and recordings of all seven. Click here. (Skip the first half and scroll ALL the way down to the bottom for the O Antiphons themselves. You will notice little speaker signs next to each one. If you click on those little music notes, it will play for you the actual chant melody for each O Antiphon.
But before you go, here’s O come, O come Emmanuel with the lyrics that are the seven O-Antiphons in English for your reflection.
And here are today’s Mass Readings. Click here.
* Adonai is one of the names the Jewish people use for God, meaning “Lord God Almighty.”
Misty mornings can be cool, Lord.
They can teach us about You, about us.
There’s lots of misty-ness in our lives, Lord.
We often don’t see anything very clearly.
But You are still there, our sun, the Son,
somehow, some way, penetrating the fog, the mist.
Help us realize that mist is OK, Lord.
Misty-ness has its own beauty.
Thank You, Lord, for what it teaches us about You, about us.
Teach us to be patient, Lord, to wait.
To wait for the light, our light, Your light.
Come Lord, Jesus this Christmas
in our lives and in our world.
Your light will come, Jerusalem;
Your light will come, dear people of God;
the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.
You will see his glory within you.
– the Advent liturgy.
And now before you go, here is more from Handel’s Messiah. Click on this link >>> Rejoice Greatly O Daughter Zion! ‘Tis Awesome! Be sure to enter full screen.
And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.
photo bob traupman 2007. You may have noticed this like a follow-up on the theme and image in yesterday’s blog:”Shadows.’ I began taking images on my Canon Powershot when i was living on St. Augustine Beach and you’ll see a few more of them in the next few days. I hope you enjoy them.
Advent Day 16 ~ Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
I have learned to be intrigued by the shadows of my life, Lord.
The stronger the light, the deeper the shadow.
I have come to realize there will always be shadows.
I must accept the shadows of my life as well as the light; they will just always be there.
And so I now pause for a moment when a shadow greets me;
and take in its beauty.
Teach me to stop and be confronted, to be changed, by them.
This day, Lord, help me to realize what the shadows of my life can teach me about You and Your great love for me.