This Third Advent week begins with “Gaudete Sunday.” The Latin, “gaudete,” means“rejoice.” It comes from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for this 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 the 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 shape of the readings changes. A great way to kick start this second part of Advent is to follow the daily readings, even if you cannot attend the Mass.
The first readings are still from the prophecies, 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 linger a bit on the familiar story of how Jesus’ life began. These ancient narratives are filled with hints of what his life will mean for us. Faith and generosity overcome impossibility. Poverty and persecution reveal glory.
In a particularly inspired section of his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel; Pope Francis writes: “True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service,from ” reconciliation with others. The pope continued, “THE SON OF GOD BY BECOMING FLESH, SUMMONED US TO A REVOLUTION OF TENDERNESS.” That’s my dream again for this holy season.
“Preparing the way,” often begins by noticing the tenderness that quietly moves through our lives. Sometimes it is subtle,attached to people and events and we forget to notice. At other times it knocks us off our feet. We move through these days sensing a part of the waiting world that rejoices at how close is the reign of God, as close a sour arm. We are told it is close at hand. And so we consciously follow the words of the collect prayer of the liturgy. ”Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow.”
Advent season has been powerful for our Basilica community. The broken angels that startled us on December 1st have become a powerful reflection on our community’s mission. Sunday Masses and 5 PM Advent Sunday Vespers have been beautiful. Thanks to the Valley Chamber Chorale for their performance of “Lessons and Carols” at this Sunday’s Vespers. It is a season of powerful confessions. There is still more opportunities if you have not made yours. The parish’s generosity to the “Giving Tree”and Men’s Clothing collection was lavish. Our Lady of Guadalupe Serenade vigil on Tuesday was to a full church. Our guest performers and Sacred Garden reception were amazing. So many miracles for the Marian feasts of our Advent. Gratitude to Gordon Stevenson, our wonderful staff and volunteers. Stay with us. He is near.
Much to “EN-JOY” and ”RE – JOICE” on this journey toward Christmas.
A gentle week.
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM