Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent1

 Roráte caeli, désuper, et nubes pluant iustum. . . 

“Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior” (cf. Isaiah 45:8). 

The prophet Isaiah greets us in today’s Entrance Antiphon and helps us to prepare for Christmas. Dr. Pius Parsch writes that “(Isaiah’s) cry must become our own. Before God comes to us, He demands preparation. He will not force His gifts upon us. We must desire them, we must be spiritually hungry.” Parsch makes this great statement: “Advent desire means that we must cultivate a fruitful soil for the seed of grace, that we become receptive to God’s kingdom” (The Church’s Year of Grace, Vol. I: Advent to Candlemas, p. 134). This applies directly to these words from the prophet Isaiah: “Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.” This prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled with the coming of the Divine Child. By analogy, we can say that He has come down from heaven as a drop of dew from the clouds. 

Though this is an analogy, this imagery is quite accurate. Remember the Gospel of the Annunciation. The Angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” She is full of grace. She is filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing. Because the Lord is with her in a singular way, she is the soil that is receptive for the dew which drops down from the clouds of heaven. In fact, it is a cloud from heaven that dropped down upon her. The angel announced: “The Holy Spirit will descend upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” It was the glory cloud of the Holy Spirit. That same cloud descended upon the Holy of Holies in the Temple. When the cloud descended, God took His seat on His throne upon the Cherubim. And when that cloud descended upon Mary, God claimed His throne in the Immaculate cloister of her womb. The drop of dew which is the Word of God, found a receptive soil in her. “Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.” Mary was the Immaculate rich soil which brought forth the Savior. 

The Eternal Word entered into human flesh. That is really the meaning of the word ‘Advent’. Ad means ‘into’ and vent from the verb ‘venir’ means to come. So, the Eternal Word came into this world, into human flesh, into the womb of Mary, so that He could come into our hearts. 

The consequence of the Eternal Son of God entering into human flesh, is that He has entered into time. Time is fleeting. So, the moment Mary has heard these words, she begins planning her journey. She sets out in haste. Immediately, the Word of God sends out His Holy Spirit to those around Him. From the womb, Jesus sends His Holy Spirit to the infant John in the womb. “St. Augustine is even of the opinion that the unborn Baptist was miraculously endowed with the use of reason and will so that he could joyfully recognize, believe in and say Yes to his Lord” (Saward, Redeemer in the Womb, p. 25). Whether this is true or not, the Church has not defined; but it is certain that this event fulfills the prophecy made by the angel Gabriel to Zechariah promising that “[John] will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). “The grace of the Holy Spirit flows from Jesus through Mary to John and from John to Elizabeth” (Saward, 26). 

And where does this happen? It happens on a mountain. Mary hastens to the hill country. She ascends the mountain in order to meet the Just One in the clouds whence He came, having dropped down like dew from above. He has come to her from heaven and she now goes to be near heaven to prepare and to be of service to her Son’s first disciple, still in the womb himself. 

Mary makes haste. We too must make haste. Time is short and God has given us these last days of Advent to prepare. In those days, Mary came to the mountain. This day we have come here to this holy mountain: the altar of God; as near to heaven as we can come in this life. Mary received the Word of God and she conceived and bore fruit in her womb. We have received the Word of God in this Mass. Let our souls now be prepared as rich soil for the Word of God that will drop down like dew from the clouds of heaven. 

“Let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.” 

1. A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, OR  December 23rd, 2012, Dominica IV Adventus, Anno C 

The Third Sunday of Advent

From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger  

To-day, again, the Church is full of joy, and the joy is greater than it was. It is true that her Lord has not come; but she feels that He is nearer than before, and therefore she thinks it just to lessen some what the austerity of this penitential season by the innocent cheerfulness of her sacred rites. And first, this Sunday has had the name of Gaudete given to it, from the first word of the Introit; it also is honoured with those impressive exceptions which belong to the fourth Sunday of Lent, called Laetare. The organ is played at the Mass; the vestments are rose-colour; the deacon resumes the dalmatic, and the subdeacon the tunic; and in cathedral churches the bishop assists with the precious mitre. How touching are all these usages, and how admirable this condescension of the Church, wherewith she so beautifully blends together the unalterable strictness of the dogmas of faith and the graceful poetry of the formulae of her liturgy. Let us enter into her spirit, and be glad on this third Sunday of her Advent, because our Lord is now so near unto us. To-morrow we will resume our attitude of servants mourning for the absence of their Lord and waiting for Him; for every delay, however short, is painful and makes love sad. 

The Station is kept in the basilica of St. Peter, at the Vatican. This august temple, which contains the tomb of the prince of the apostles, is the home and refuge of all the faithful of the world; it is but natural that it should be chosen to witness both the joy and the sadness of the Church. 

The night Office commences with a new Invitatory. The voice of the Church no longer invites the faithful to come and adore in fear and trembling the King, our Lord, who is to come. Her language assumes another character; her tone is one of gladness; and now, every day, until the vigil of Christmas, she begins her nocturns with these grand words:

Prope est jam Dominus: venite adoremus.The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

Now let us take the book of the Prophet, and read with the Church:

From the Prophet Isaias. 

Ch. xxvi.
In that day shall this canticle be sung in the land of Juda. Sion the city of our strength: a Saviour, a wall, and a bulwark shall be set therein. Open ye the gates and let the just nation, that keepeth the truth, enter in. The old error is passed away, thou wilt keep peace: peace, because we have hoped in thee. You have hoped in the Lord for evermore: in the Lord God mighty for ever. For he shall bring down them that dwell en high, the high city he shall lay low. He shall bring it down even to the ground, he shall pull it down even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down; the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. The way of the just is right, the path of the just is right to walk in. And in the way of thy judgements, O Lord, we have patiently waited for thee: thy name and thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath desired thee in the night: yea, and with my spirit within me in the morning early I will watch to thee.


O holy Roman Church, city of our strength! behold us thy children assembled within thy walls, around the tomb of the fisherman, the prince of the apostles, whose sacred relics protect thee from their earthly shrine, and whose unchanging teaching enlightens thee from heaven. Yet, O city of strength: it is by the Saviour, who is coming, that thou art strong. He is thy wall, for it is He that encircles, with His tender mercy, all thy children; He is thy bulwark, for it is by Him that thou art invincible, and that all the powers of hell are powerless to prevail against thee. Open wide thy gates, that all nations may enter thee for thou art mistress of holiness and the guardian of truth. May the old error, which sets itself against the faith, soon disappear, and peace reign over the whole fold! O holy Roman Church! thou hast for ever put thy trust in the Lord; and He, faithful to His promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. Where now are the Caesars. who boasted that they had drowned thee in thine own blood? where the emperors, who would ravish the inviolate virginity of thy faith? where the heretics, who, during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching, and denied what they listed? where the ungrateful princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who hadst made them what they were? where that empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenceless State, didst arrest the pride of its conquests? where the reformers, who were bent on giving the world a Christianity, in which thou wast to have no part? where the more modern sophists, in whose philosophy thou wast set down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is now a ruin? and those kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where will they be in another hundred years? Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm, as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through all the ages of this world’s duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the eighteen hundred years past, whilst everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence this thy stability, but from Him who is very truth and justice? Glory be to Him in thee! Each year, He visits thee; each year, He brings thee new gifts, wherewith thou mayst go happily through thy pilgrimage; and to the end of time, He will visit thee, and renew thee, not only with the power of that look wherewith Peter was renewed, but by filling thee with Himself, as He did the ever glorious Virgin, who is the object of thy most tender love, after that which thou bearest to Jesus Himself. We pray with thee, O Church, our mother, and here is our prayer: ‘Come, Lord Jesus! Thy name and Thy remembrance are the desire of our souls: they have desired Thee in the night, yea, and early in the morning have they watched for Thee.’

Source: http://liturgialatina.org/lityear/advent/sunday3.htm

Second Sunday of Advent

In Palestine Christians gather today in Jerusalem for the celebration of holy Mass. In Rome they proceed to the stational church “Holy Cross at Jerusalem” which serves to give the atmosphere of the Holy City. 

Why “Jerusalem”? Excavations of ancient sites often reveal a number of strata. When enemies destroyed a city, a new one would rise on the same location, so that today there are several layers of remains, one city, as it were, above the other. Our Jerusalem likewise has four strata. The bottommost layer is the Jerusalem of the Jews, that venerable land where the Lord Jesus began His mission of redemption, where He suffered and died. This is the historical Jerusalem so dear to us Christians. Anyone making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land enters that ancient city with holy awe. That Jerusalem, however, lies buried deep. 

For us another has been built upon it, the Jerusalem of Christians, God’s kingdom on earth, the holy Church. This city still stands; it is the one which the divine King will enter at Christmas. Now we understand why we will hear so much about Jerusalem during the coming week. We should now clean and adorn our city, improving its streets and avenues through which the Savior will make His entrance. As a motto we should take the words of the precursor, St. John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths; let every valley be filled, every hill be leveled.” Holy Mother Church’s message today is that the Savior is coming to the Jerusalem of the Christians, to the Church. 

Above the second stratum there arises a third, the heavenly Jerusalem at the end of time. Already now the Church sings of this Jerusalem. For during Advent we await the Savior who will appear on the Last Day to take all into “the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven.” 

Finally, there may be recognized a fourth Jerusalem, our souls in sanctifying grace. This city too must be adorned and prepared, for the King will want to enter. That is our present task. 

On Epiphany, the climax to the current season, the Church will cry out: “Arise, shine, O Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee.” That is the goal. Today we must prepare for the great King’s visit to our city. The whole coming week must be devoted to it. The Church prays: “Awaken our hearts to prepare the way for Your only-begotten Son that we may serve Him with purified hearts.” 

In the time of the Roman Empire, rulers rode from city to city for the purpose of official visitations. Their appearance, called epiphany or parousia, was a great event, one preceded by months of preparation. Something analogous takes place in the Jerusalem of our souls. From a high watchtower we see the Lord coming afar off. Suddenly John the Baptist appears; he hurries into the city to announce the King’s approach. God condescends to manifest Himself to us in grace; but He demands the proper reception. 

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace by Pius Parsch 

From: Catholic Culture (https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2018-12-09

First Sunday of Advent

Advent Overview 

From our friends at Fish Eaters
(https://www.fisheaters.com/customsadvent1.html) 

Theme:His Historical and Future Coming
Color:Violet
Mood:Somber anticipation, restrained joy that grows each day until Christmas,
rather like waiting for a new mother to give birth — joyous,
yet restrained, hesitant, and humbled until the moment of the birth arrives
Symbols:Advent candles, empty crib, St. John the Baptist, the Ten Virgins
Length:the 4th Sunday before Christmas to 24 December.
The 1st of the 4 Sundays in Advent is known as “Advent Sunday”;
the 3rd Sunday is known as “Gaudete Sunday.”

The focus of Advent is preparation for the coming of the Lord — both in commemoration of His Nativity and His coming again at the end of time. Though most Protestants — and far too many Catholics — see this time of year as a part of the “Christmas Season,” it isn’t; the Christmas season does not begin until the first Mass at Christmas Eve, and doesn’t end liturgically until the Octave of the Epiphany on January 14. It goes on in the spiritual sense until Candlemas on February 2, when all celebrations of Christ’s Childhood give way to Septuagesima and Lent. . . To sum up the similarities and differences between Advent and Lent as penitential seasons, there’s this, by Fr. Lawrence Smith:

Advent is the time to make ready for Christ to live with us. Lent is the time to make us ready to die with Christ. Advent makes Lent possible. Lent makes salvation possible. Advent is the time when eternity approaches earth. Lent is the time when time reaches consummation in Christ’s eternal Sacrifice to the Father. Advent leads to Christ’s life in time on earth. Lent leads to Christ’s eternal Life in Heaven. The Cross — through the Mass, penance, and mortification — is the bridge connecting Advent and Lent, Christ and His Church, man and God.

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