Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Today’s Introit, taken from the prophet Isaiah, is at the heart of the Church’s Advent message: “People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations: and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice heard in the joy of your heart.” As followers of Jesus, we are the new “People of Sion.” Jesus, Our Savior, is coming to save us from sin, Satan and eternal death. The “glory of His voice” must be heard in our hearts. We are hearing that word now in the sacred readings and in the liturgy of the Mass.

In the Gradual of today’s Mass, we read the words of the 49th Psalm: “Gather together you, His saints, and come to Him. You who have set His covenant before sacrifices.” In other words, we must keep God commandments and live our lives in accord to the faith and mortal teachings of Jesus, the Messiah. This we must do as a preparation before coming to the Temple (i.e., the church for Mass) and offer sacrifices. In other words, we must prepare for Mass by having kept God’s commandments.

Despite the pleadings of the Church, each year we witness the world’s pagan godless preparations for Christmas. The `Holiday’ is identified with a string of parties and preparations devoid of Christ. Yes, the Holy Season is a time of joy. Followers of the Lord often express their joy by sending out cards, looking forward to the family gatherings and the exchange of gifts. The smell of trees and holly, however, thrill us with a true sense of Christmas, that is, in the Lord! We identify with Christ and not with the pagan world, which knows Him not.

Every year we hear the same sorry scenario repeated: "It just doesn't seem like Christmas this year." Of course it cannot seem like Christmas! Christ is absent! He has been expelled! The Church's holy days are mindlessly transformed into pagan holidays. Advent must be for us a time of penance & conversion in preparation for the Lord's coming. The faithful follower of the Lord must be more holy one Christmas day than he was on the First Sunday of Advent. For the Christian can have no part of an Advent that is a series of parties and preparations without Christ, thus transforming Christmas into a pagan festival.

The liturgy constantly reminds us of the seriousness of the sacred mysteries. Reflect on the Opening Prayer of today's Mass: "Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of your only-begotten Son, so that through His coming we may deserve to serve You with purified minds (i.e., cleansed from sin). The closing prayer recurs constantly in the ancient liturgy: "Filled with the food of spiritual nourishment, we humbly entreat Thee, O Lord, that by partaking of this mystery, You have taught us to despise the things of the earth and to love those things of heaven.”

Seek the things of God, which are above! Be holy! Avoid the pagan mentality of the world! Seek the peace of Christ in heaven through the Catholic Church, founded by our Divine Savior. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World! This is the constant message of the liturgy in today’s Advent Mass. Indeed, it is repeated in one form or another in every liturgy throughout the whole liturgical year.
We read in the Communion Antiphon: “Rise up Jerusalem, stand on the heights and see the joy that is coming to you from God.” When the liturgy refers to Jerusalem, it always signifies the Church. Every member of the Mystical Body is exhorted to “stand on the heights,” the heights of a holy life! The joy that is coming is Christ, the Savior of the World. He alone will lead us to the Kingdom of Heaven. That Kingdom of God has already begun in the Church. It will reach its full realization in heaven, in the Vision of God for all eternity. May Mary, the holy Mother of God, be with us on our journey to the Heavenly Kingdom.

Father Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.


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