Emmitsburg Council of Churches

An Advent Alphabet

Father John J. Lombardi

First Sunday of Advent

Don't get steamrolled by the pre-Christmas rush and lose the beauty of the Advent season. The Church gives us this special period to cultivate joyful expectation thru preparation. A recent Vatican document on spirituality in the Church described the character of this holy season: "Advent is a time of waiting, conversion and of hope: waiting-memory of the first, humble coming of the Lord in our mortal flesh; waiting-supplication for his final, glorious coming as Lord of History and universal Judge; conversion, to which the Liturgy at this time often refers quoting the prophets, especially John the Baptist, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt.3:2)...Following are some suggestions to help you wait and prepare for the Lord Jesus …

  1. Advent means "to come to"- i.e., we're not there yet --Christmas. We must come to it by going thru Advent … There's no delivery of a newborn child without a prepar- ation period. The world demands one thing (materialism), the Church commands another (spiritual devotion and preparation)-which one will you choose?
  2. Bible: read some of the infancy narratives in Saints Luke's and Matthew's Gospels (first two chapters of ea.).
  3. Contemplate: the mysteries of Christ's life by holding within the spiritual lessons awaiting you which come only thru silence, stillness and great love. Imitate Mary, as in: "And she treasured all these things in her heart"(Lk. 2:19)
  4. Develop a more disciplined and assiduous spiritual life. Embrace "Five S's of Holistic Spirituality": Sacraments, Scriptures, Silent prayer, Saints' inspiration, Serve others.
  5. Eucharist-attend Mass frequently this Advent
  6. Fast from excess food, drink and premature parties
  7. Give time, talent, treasure to others--directly--to the poor, sick and dying. One Advent, a family of seven--a pregnant mom and busy dad--prepared for a nursing home visit where they led the Advent-Christmas singing and playing-and praying . How about you?!
  8. Hideaway from the world in solitude-time with the Holy Family. Make a mini-retreat: one day or afternoon.
  9. Incarnation A beautiful Latin saying, Caro cardo saludis, means: "The Flesh (of Jesus) is the hinge of our salvation." The Invisible God became flesh to free us from sin; to unmistakably show God's love for us. "He became flesh that we might become God."(St. Augustine)
  10. Jesus = His Name comes from the Hebrew, Jeshua, "He will save them from their sins"…What sins do you need to be freed of, confess? Don't wait, go now!
  11. K Kneel, each day before an empty manger (visible or invisible), as a mortification to the King of Kings
  12. Light-filled are five new Mysteries on the Rosary-pray them to be near Mary and Jesus (see below)
  13. Messiah= is the Hebrew word for the deliverer of Israel…Is He your deliverer--really? Show Him.
  14. Negate materialism, anxiousness, anything ungodly.
  15. O-antiphons include, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," which means "God is with us". Live, love, think, and act like it!
  16. Pregnancy---Think often during this Advent-time what Mary and Joseph were doing in the final month of pregnancy.
  17. Quiet-who doesn't need more of this? It's the best time of year for it, so stop complaining and -just practice it.
  18. Receive God's grace: "No one can receive except what has been given from above" (Jn. 3:27). Nurture gifts gratefully.
  19. Songs of Advent inspire us, esp. the "Magnificat"--prayerfully read St Lk. 1:46ff--and other songs w/ meditations
  20. Thoughts which are pure and holy are cultivated by prayerful, consistent and persistent loving effort (see Phil. 4:8).
  21. Urgently pray for the Lord's return-- "Maranatha-Come, Lord Jesus"-I Cor. 16:22.
  22. Virgin-cultivate a loving devotion to the Mother of God, as in "Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you"- Lk 1:28.
  23. Wisdom will inherit honor, but stubborn fools, disgrace"-Prv. 3:35. Wreath: Is a German custom and practice which helps us remember and await the Light of the world in this home ritual.
  24. X-out the term X-mas, sins from your life and all gossip.
  25. Yearn for peace in the birthplace of Jesus-Bethlehem.
  26. Zealousness helps us love God and neighbor (see Tit. 2.14).

Briefly Noted

Mass Changes? The US Bishops, with the approval of the Vatican, has recently made changes and additions to the Roman Missal (prayer book of the Church), which are effective this Sunday. Some important principles include: The Eucharistic Celebration is sacrament of unity under the bishop…The role of the Priest is to offer sacrifice in persona Christi, by his celebration in humility and dignity. The Assembly is to offer in active participation w/ priest the Sacrifice of Mass-and should become unified and one body by the Word, song and postures.

Extraordinary Ministers do what is licit to avoid confusing duties/identities of Priest and laypersons. Changes include: The Book of Gospels can be carried in procession. The priest should stay at altar during Sign of Peace (excepting funerals/weddings). Faithful should stand before "Pray that our sacrifice…", instead of afterwards. Only clerics prepare sacred vessels during Agnus Dei. Communion should be available under both species, and people receive from hosts consecrated at that Mass. The Posture in Holy Communion should be standing, w/ communicant bowing head in reverence before…These changes are meant to bring unity and dignity to our Masses…May these liturgical nuances help us all to worship God more lovingly!

Spiritual Story

A youngish couple was at the Grotto recently and asked for some of my time. The gentleman asked if I could pray for them and bless the lady who had some "special problems," and also bless the new cross she was wearing. He later said they were married, were having difficulties and had been separated, but that they made this Grotto trip for help and healing. I expressed to them the importance and beauty of their pilgrimage, and hopes for reconciliation and healing. I also mentioned the great need of our world for Catholic married couples and families As I prayed over them, tears came from their eyes; afterwards they looked at each other heartfully, and said, "That was a long time coming".

I later saw them on the parking lot and the gentleman offered the free service of masonry work for the Grotto, and she said, "This has been a great day. Even if it would have been raining I would have still come. Nothing would have held me back." Don't be held back.

Article of the Week

A New York Times Book Review of "Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity," by Leon R. Kass. He is Chair of President Bush's Bioethics Committee which counsels federal policy of cloning. Kass says: "Once embryonic clones are produced in laboratories the eugenic revolution will have begun. And we shall have lost our best chance to do anything about it." The reviewer concludes, "In other words, all cloning for medical research should be stopped."

Five New Mysteries of Light of the Rosary, with scriptural citations: The Pope's recent letter on the Rosary encourages us, "Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very Person of Jesus…The Rosary…offers the 'secret' which leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. We might call it 'Mary's way' (#21,24) …The five new mysteries are (Scripture citations courtesy of a "Friend of the Grotto"):

The Baptism of our Lord: Matthew 3:16-17-After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for Him,) and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him. And a voice came from the Heavens saying, 'This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." Wedding at Cana: John 2:9-10 - And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from… the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now." Proclamation of the Kingdom of God: Mark 1:14-15 - After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Transfiguration: Matthew 17:1-2---After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John His brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; His face shown like the sun and His clothes became white as light.

The Holy Eucharist: John 6:53-56 - Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi