The month of waiting is about to be over in a few short hours. We will celebrate the birth of Christ. God made Man to save man. Can you even believe it? Could you ever imagine it? The Creator…becoming like the created…to save the created! That makes no sense does it?
But neither does joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst in trials and comfort in the midst of suffering. But our God does not have to make sense to the world…although He created this world, it does not know Him.
If this world knew Jesus, Christmas would not end tomorrow after the gifts were opened, the turkey eaten and the trash carried out to the curb…it would just be starting.
Let’s celebrate Christmas as a season, not just a day.
The preparations of Advent are past, now is the time for rejoicing and our baby Savior deserves more than one day don’t you think? Holy Mother Church thinks so; traditionally the Church has celebrated the birth of Jesus through at least the Epiphany on January 6. But the season of Epiphany, which begins on the Eve of the Epiphany, is not over until the end of the Octave of Epiphany, which lasts for eight days, so not until the 13th. And the season of Christmas actually runs all the way through to February 2, the Feast of the Purification or Candlemas Day.
The time is at hand, continue to prepare the way of the Lord!
Christ as Emmanuel (God is With Us)
The night before Christmas…are we ready? This whole month has been spent in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, the King of Kings, the Savior of the World. And He comes as a baby.
The time of waiting is a time of testing. There is nothing else to do but trust in the living God. There is nothing harder for an imperfect soul like ours to do, than to learn that we ourselves can do nothing and all things can be done by God.
The time before birth always seems longer than any other. I have thought God made it seem so long so that we would be forced to wonder about Him–the Father of ourselves and of our children.
You are with God, and you must look at Him with the eyes of faith in those long nights.
–Blessed is the Fruit, from an article “How to Have a Baby” which appeared in St Joseph Magazine by April Ousler Armstrong
All but two of my children have been planned inductions. I spend the week before in methodical preparation. I pack my hospital bag, prepare babysitting for my other children, and I always make it a priority to go to confession. I spend the night before in anxious anticipation. Eager for the birth, afraid for the changes it will bring.
Birth and death are sisters, the strange twins who bridge the verge between eternity and time. The hour of birth draws near and no woman in the world can be completely free of fear. It is not pain or danger that haunts you most. Though you may not have the words to capture it there is in you an awe at the fact that there will be one moment when life and death graze in passing.
–Blessed is the Fruit, from an article “How to Have a Baby” which appeared in St Joseph Magazine by April Ousler Armstrong
Are we ready for the moment in time when eternal life and death meet in the stable? Jesus came, born as baby in a manger to poor humble parents so we might have life…and have it more abundantly. This time of preparation, has been to prepare us for the new life we live found only in Christ.
God is with us! And that fact alone should produce abundant living.
He has overcome death so we could live full earthly lives and glorious eternal ones.
So are we? Living an abundant life?
An abundant life is filled with hope. Are we living full of hope?
A synonym for hope is faith.
“I hope my husband gets a raise and if he does not, I have faith everything will work out anyway…maybe even better.”
A synonym for hope is belief.
“I hope my situation turns out for the good, but I believe all things work together for the good for those who love God.”
A synonym for hope is endurance.
“I hope my marriage, my children, my job, etc, will turn around and be a source of comfort and joy. Until then, I will endure and love like Christ…because He loved me first.”
God is with us! This is a time of great rejoicing!
Christ as Rex Gentium (King of All Nations)
Isaiah 9:7 Isaiah 2:4
Three more days. Are you ready? Does it seem like Christmas is so close or does it seem like it’s still a ways out? How about 80 miles away? 80 miles is the distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Do we have somewhere–maybe closer than 80 miles or maybe farther–that we need to travel this Christmas?
Do we need to walk down the hall, take a left in the first open door and spend some quiet time with a little one who has been hustled and bustled until their little heart almost broke and their temper did?
How about the distance between grown siblings? Hurt feeling, harsh words and plain old misunderstandings can create a chasm greater than 80 miles wide and 80 miles deep. Is the crevasse filled with sour memories and more time than we know how to make up for? One step…one call…one generic Christmas card could make all the difference in the world.
When we crawl in bed at night, what’s the mathematical equation to find the area between us and our husband? Him hanging off the right side + me hanging off the left = a span of separation not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. What would happen if we just reached out yonder, across crumpled sheets and through flannel pajamas and touched his arm as we fell asleep? Would that be the first step to help fill that void?
Does God the Father seem so far out there, way past the tiniest of stars we stare up at each night, wondering where He is and not really caring what the answer may be because we don’t feel like he’s near us. As the animated character Buzz Light-Year would say, “To infinity and beyond!” Is that where God seems right now? Beyond.
Do you know how much you are wanted and loved? God loves you and wants you sweet sister in Christ. He longs, LONGS, to be near you. So much so, He makes Himself available all the time, 24/7, 365, on too many altars to count and way more churches to name and number.
That noisy child following you around, he longs to be near you. That’s why he sticks so close. If he were a toddler, he cold be unrolling the toilet paper roll. If he were a young boy, he could be hidden in some secret fort out back. If he were a teen, he could be gone…just gone…period. Instead he’s around, maybe bugging you, but around none the less.
Those families ties stretched to the breaking point and beyond. There may be hope. And if there is no hope, and in some families there is not, there is prayer. Whether you see them or not, you must pray for them. Fill that hole with prayer and all will be well someday, maybe not until heaven, but all will be well.
The man you share that expanse of bed with, if he does not long for you…ache for him. Yes, ache.
verb (used without object)
to have or suffer a continuous, dull pain: His whole body ached.
to feel great sympathy, pity, or the like: Her heart ached for the starving animals.
to feel eager; yearn; long: She ached to be the champion. He’s just aching to get even.
Ache for your man, ache for your marriage. God promises to make all things new and let Him start with you.
The baby Jesus is coming to be the King of all nations and everyone knows a good king restores and unifies…families, marriages, hearts…all things.
Christ as Oriens (Radiant Dawn, Dayspring)
Isaiah 9:2, Malachi 4:1-3
This sure is a season of light huh? LED, flashing, twinkling, blinking, glowing, icicle like. We use terms of light to describe lots of things: “A smile that lights up a room…An attitude that chases away darkness…A vibrant personality…A glowing report.”
I want to be lit up this Advent and Christmas—and I am not talking about the kind of lit up from my brother in law’s Apple Pie Moonshine (although it is yummy). No, I want the light of Christ, the Son of Justice to light me up. And the Light of Justice will reveal all.
Let it all be revealed I say; I want to be illuminated. I would rather see it now; it–the sin, bad habits and faults that keep me so far from God. I want to see deep down in the crevices that hide my sin and the dark recesses that conceal my faults and the gray, tangled, cob-webs of vice accumulating in the corners. These can only be seen if I’m filled with the light of Christ…or the flames of Purgatory. Um, I choose the Light of Christ, how ’bout you?
But that’s a part of any preparation isn’t it? Bringing everything into the light to get a good once over. The cleaning and clearing, making room for something better. Getting rid of the unused, the ugly…basically the junk. And so we drag it out and examine it in the light. ”Yes, this has to go,” we may declare as we look at it from all sides. Or, we may decide it can stay, but we clean it up and use it differently.
Let’s take a good look and see what needs to be tossed to the curb and what can stay, but used differently. I’m talking physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Let’s take a great big inventory, digging deep, asking ourselves the hard questions, holding ourselves up in the Light. And once the inventory is completed, if there is sin, let’s confess it and get it out of there…for good. Let’s end the old year and start the new year off as clean and shiny as possible. I figure the less sin and bad habits cluttering my soul, the more room for the Love of Christ.
Jesus has already come once in the dark, only to be told there was no room…I do not want to be the one to say it this time.
Christ as Clavis David (Key of David)
Isaiah 22:22, Isaiah 9:6
Five more days; are you feeling the push to get it all done? Not only to get it all done, but to get it all done perfectly Pin-worthy? Or have you just thrown up your hands, said “It is what it is. I can’t do anymore. I have nothing left to give.”
This time of year, we may call people lots of names:
Jerk…who took my parking spot at the mall
Grump…behind the cash register
nosy…kids looking high and low for gifts
STOP! When those names are on the tip of your tongue ready to fall out, spew out or only muttered through clenched teeth—Replace them with the names of Christ:
Father of the World to Come
Prince of Peace
No, we do not call the hot head in the mall parking lot “Father of the World to Come.” We call on Jesus, “Father of the World to Come.”
Stressful family situations, married tension, demanding bosses, and over eager kids, these can be a distraction to God. The more time we spend thinking about, talking about, complaining about everyone on that list, the less time we spend with the Prince of Peace. Let’s not waste our time. Let’s replace out time.
Just saying those holy names, especially slowly and out loud, well, it’s bound to lower anxiety and probably blood pressure.
Christ as Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)
Isaiah 11:1, 10, Micah 5:11, Romans 15:8-13, Revelations 5:1-5
I want to be filled this Advent…filled to overflowing. Not with fruitcake, but with joy! I want to believe in the peace of Christ that passes all understanding, not cheesy advertising tempting me to buy what I do not need! I want to abound in hope, not debt! I do not want to get sucked into ‘Bigger…Better…Faster’
Our Lord’s title here, ‘Out of the Root’ contradicts ‘Bigger…Better…Faster.’ A life based on ‘Bigger…Better…Faster’ expects a genealogy starting from the top of the mighty Redwood, not the root. And yet, that’s where it all begins isn’t it? The root.
How are our roots?
If I over spend, driving my family deeper into debt just to have the latest fad or my children the hottest toy this Christmas…would that be an indication of a shallow root system?
If I tap my foot in line behind the old, slow or just plain bothersome-to-me person in the check out line…would that be an indication of a dry root system?
If I smile at the handsome Marine collecting Toys for Tots but scowl at my husband when he walks into the room…would that be an indication of a rotten root system?
If I only did good to those who did good to me…would that be an indication of a stunted root system?
Out of the Root of Jesse comes the baby King. From humble beginnings to magnificent eternity. From one man’s son comes the Son to save all men.
Weep not, the Lion of the Tribe of Juda, the Root of David…He’s coming!
Am I ready?
Christ as Adonai (Lord of Israel)
Isaiah 11:4-5, 33:22
The O Antiphons are prayed before the Magnificat.
“My soul doth magnify the greatness of the Lord.”
That one verse of the Magnificat is like opening a bottle of pure joy!
But sometimes is this what we sound like, “My soul doth scrutinize the purchases of my neighbor, the Catholicity of my fellow parishioners or the festive sugar intake of my sister in law’s children as they scream through the house?”
Or, “My soul doth magnify my Facebook Likes, Twitter followers and Email Subscriptions?”
How about, “My soul doth magnify my big house, shiny car and 4G phone.”
Lord, I will practice merciful charity–sometimes heroically, and each and every time, I will offer a word of thanksgiving to God the Father for His infinite mercy bestowed up on me.
Lord, I will strive for humility in all things–and each and every time I will offer a word of thanksgiving to God the Son for coming and dying for me.
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Christ as Sapientia (Wisdom)
Isaiah 11:2-3, 28:29
Today begins the O Antiphons. They are called the O Antiphons because they all begin with the letter word ‘O’: they address Jesus by one of His Old Testament titles. They are fervent prayers asking our Lord to come to us.
An interesting side note mentioned; taking the first letter of each title of Jesus starting with the last and you spell, EROCRAS or ‘ero cras’ which means, “Tomorrow I come.”
The O Antiphons begin on the 17th of December, seven days before the Vigil of Christmas.
The song ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ takes its lyrics from the O Antiphons.
After the Antiphon is recited, pray the Magnificat:
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the humility of His handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His Name. And His Mercy is from generation unto generations upon them that fear Him.
He hath shewed might in His arm, He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel, His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our Fathers, Abraham and His seed forever.
Wisdom–The first and highest gifts of the Holy Spirit. It makes the soul responsive to God in the contemplation of divine things. Where faith is a simple knowledge of the articles of Christian belief, wisdom goes on to a certain divine penetration of the truths themselves. Built into wisdom is the element of love, which inspires contemplative reflection on these divine mysteries, rejoices dwelling on them, and directs the mind to judge all things according to their principles.
Fr. John Hardon– Modern Catholic Dictionary
To have a mind that would judge all things according to the principles of love and divine mystery. To judge the intentions of my husband, children, friends, fellow shoppers…and not just the actions. That would make for a pretty different day wouldn’t it?
That would make for a pretty different life!
Jesus, I pray for the grace of Your wisdom. I pray for the overwhelming desire to dwell on You, to be penetrated by You and to see You in others. If I could do this one thing, I would surely become a saint of great love for You and for those who are Yours.