The Third Week of Advent 2018
Let Us Be Joyful!
We are coming up on one of my favorite weeks in the "New" Liturgical Year preparing for Christmas and living out the Life of Our Lord for 2019. This comes with my own anxiety around the holiday celebration; four years ago we received two beautiful Christmas presents: our adopted daughters Kylie and Jaelyn arrived in our home. We have had four beautiful years as the Duff family. So, as you can imagine, our Christmas holidays will have some anxiety and raw emotions permanently marked. We are truly grateful to God for our living Christmas gifts.
This week, I have found two reflections below that I hope to help you find the Joy in your heart that will help you celebrate the Christmas Holiday.
Timothy Hughes Duff- Co-Founder/ Guardian
Our week begins with “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. It comes from the first word of the Entrance antiphon on Sunday. The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.” This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose colored, and the rose colored vestments often used at the Eucharist.
The second part of Advent begins on December 17th each year. For the last eight days before Christmas, the plan of the readings changes. The first readings are still from the prophesies, but now the gospels are from the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. We read the stories of faithful women and men who prepared the way for our salvation. We enter into the story of how Jesus' life began. These stories are filled with hints of what his life will mean for us. Faith and generosity overcome impossibility. Poverty and persecution reveal glory.
Preparing our Hearts and asking for Grace
We prepare this week by feeling the joy. We move through this week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand. And so we consciously ask:
Prepare our hearts
and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling
the joy and hope
which his presence
Each morning this week, in that brief moment we are becoming accustomed to, we want to light a third inner candle. Three candles, going from expectation, to longing, to joy. They represent our inner preparation, or inner perspective. In this world of “conflict and division,” “greed and lust for power,” we begin each day this week with a sense of liberating joy. Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply and say,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”
Each day this week, we will continue to go through our everyday life, but we will experience the difference our faith can bring to it. We are confident that the grace we ask for will be given us. We will encounter sin - in our own hearts and in our experience of the sin of the world. We can pause in those moments, and feel the joy of the words,
“You are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people
from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
We may experience the Light shining into dark places of our lives and showing us patterns of sinfulness, and inviting us to experience God's mercy and healing. Perhaps we wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconcilation this week. We may want to make gestures of reconcilation with a loved one, relative, friend or associate. With more light and joy, it is easier to say, “I'm sorry; let's begin again.”
Each night this week we want to pause in gratitude. Whatever the day has brought, no matter how busy it has been, we can stop, before we fall asleep, to give thanks for a little more light, a little more freedom to walk by that light, in joy.
Our celebration of the coming of our Savior in history, is opening us up to experience his coming to us this year, and preparing us to await his coming in Glory.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come and visit your people.
We await your coming. Come, O Lord.
Source: Creighton University's Online Ministries
Reading for Gaudete Sunday
Sunday, December 17, 2018
Scripture Reading 1: Zep 3:14-18A; Psalm: IS 12:2-6;
Scripture Reading 2: Phil 4:4-7 Gospel: LK 3:10-18
Reflection from the Sisters of St. Joseph (Click Here to be taken to Gaudete Sunday's Readings)
Always be joyful; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks; this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes 5:16-17
In his book The Joy Compass, Atlaman, a psychologist writes, “Being in state of joy is a learned skill, not an innate ability.” A learned skill—really—when things are going badly, people are suffering, I am depressed–really? Atlaman goes on to say, “My hope is that you will find the joy that has always been waiting for you… and embracing gratitude as a means of finding joy.” The Advent message in Thessalonians is astounding. Prayer and gratitude are evoked as the pathways to joy as we await the coming of Christ Jesus who is waiting for us! A joyful life begins with a deep appreciation of God’s love expressed visibly in the incarnation. Dorothy Day calls us to the duty of delight; Pope Francis, to embrace the joy of the Gospel; and our founders, to take gentleness, peace, and joy as our orientation as we move toward profound love of God and the dear neighbor.
O God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ, experience the joy of salvation and celebrate this feast with love and thanksgiving.
My soul rejoices in God my Savior. How this Advent do I rejoice, embracing gratitude as a means of finding joy?
Sister Lucy Silvio
Baton Rouge, LA
Source: Congregation of St. Joseph