“The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated… Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate.” (Pope Benedict XVI, SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, 64)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Light Number Four

Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. (Isaiah 60:1-2)

I was asked last year to write an article on the Advent Wreath for a parish newsletter. It was never published. But, here you go:

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come.” Let the hearer say, "Come.” [Rev 22:17a]

Please ask yourself, “Can I genuinely pray from the heart, ‘Amen! Come Lord Jesus!’ as John the Apostle did?” It can be difficult. For many of us, our lives are comfortable. We all have times of stress, anguish, and unhappiness, but most of us are not ready to trade the life we know for the tribulation of the Second Coming. Fear of this is understandable. But that fear can be replaced with “joyful hope” through the pious observance of Advent.

What would Easter be to us were it not preceded by the journey of Lent, walking with our Lord to the Cross? So too, Advent is the key to the preparation for and appreciation of the Incarnation, manifested by a birth in the poverty of refugee lodging. God the Son condescended to become man. Imitate Him during this much-neglected penitential season.

A simple, traditional devotion to aid your family’s liturgical focus is the Advent wreath. Place the blessed wreath at the center of your dinner table. After the family has gathered for the meal, turn off ALL the lights. Before the meal blessing, light the candles, one each for that particular week of Advent. The lighting should be accompanied by prayers, Advent hymns, or readings (made more challenging by the dark, of course), customized by your family’s preferences.

From our faith, we know that we live in a world of darkness and Christ is our only light [Jn 1:3-5]. But our eyes adjust to the darkness, and we can fail to recognize our need for the Uncreated Light. This nightly devotion provides us a perspective on reality. The burning candles become for us, “…a symbol of the prophetic light gradually illuminating the long night prior to the rising of the Sun of justice.” [Directory on Popular Piety, 98]. The subdued light draws the family together and reminds them of Whom is at their center, and that they too are refugees until the day they behold the Eternal Light, gathered with their true family for a feast beyond imagination. After four weeks, even children will anticipate the Infant Jesus more than Santa Claus.

Whether He’s descending the clouds, placed in a manger, or lifted by the hands of a priest, you and your family will welcome the Divine Guest in your heart, and pray with grateful longing, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

For resources on this and other family Advent devotions, visit our Gift Center and view the Advent Workshop at www.catholicculture.org.

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