Posted by Anne Elizabeth on November 27, 2011
Special Note: You’ll want your Bible present to look up passages. If you have anything other than RSV, NAB, KJV, or NIV, then your translation might lead you astray. The newest translations are very loose with little holding to the original Latin text. And if you’re Catholic, I recommend the RSV, it’s the closest to the Latin text next to the Vulgate.
What is Advent?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:
[It's the] Liturgical Season of four weeks devoted to the preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. ~Glossary Terms
When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming (cf. Rev22:17). By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to His desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease,”(cf. Jn 3:30) ~CCC§524
To me it seems more than adequate to say, this Advent is unlike any other we have experienced in that so much is going on in our world today, that I feel it very necessary to pack as much ‘spiritual meat’ into the upcoming reflections as I can. Time being of the essence I will republish writings I did called “As Seen Through Mary’s Eyes”, and add to them as much reference as I can to the Catechism and Sacred Scripture.
So many people have missed the significance of God’s decision to come among us, first as an infant and then as a child and so forth, through His chosen vessel – that is Mary. I CRINGE every time I hear someone refer to the movie, “The Nativity”, as a good source for a Christmas Devotion.
I heard it once said that the creators of that film were surprised that it did not do as well as they thought it aught; but I wasn’t surprised. The movie DISSED the Holy Family in a shameful way. They ignored tradition and concentrated on just PARTS of Luke and Matthew’s Gospel accounts that suited their story instead of considering the FULLNESS of the story.
It blatantly suggested that Mary and Joesph were just good people that had something extraordinary happen to them, and completely ignored the fact that Mary was more than just a good person while Joseph, in his choice of life, seemed fashioned for the task of caring for God and His mother by his Creator.
This is why it is so IMPORTANT to have the FULLNESS of the FAITH. That is BOTH Scripture AND Tradition (Good Theology). That is what I hope these Advent writings will reflect, the fullness of the faith, and will give the reader the “spiritual meat” required to prepare one’s heart for the Coming of Christ our King as the rest of our world spirals into chaos. By keeping Christ in our hearts and as our CENTER, regardless of the world and its follies, we will NOT be shaken, but will HOPE in Him.
You’ll find Scripture colored maroon, the Catechism colored in deep green, my comments left plain, and the traditional writing done in various shades of blue and purple; and as always, emphasis has been added when appropriate.
Please take a moment to read the INTRODUCTION before you begin this Advent reflection.
IN THE BEGINNING
BEFORE TIME BEGAN, the Holy Trinity decreed that one day, after the creation of the world and of man and after man’s fall, God the Son was to be born of a Virgin Mother.
“…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” ~Gen 3:15
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel. ~Isaiah 6:14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. ~Eph 1: 3-4
In order that this Mother should be the purest human being who ever lived, Almighty God decreed that she was to be miraculously exempt from all stain of original sin…
The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All Holy” (Panagia) and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.” By the grace of God, Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. ~CCC§493
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, (cf Lk 1:28), was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God AND by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
This is why it is a GRAVE ERROR to just present the Blessed Virgin as a really nice girl who had something extraordinary happen to her. And unfortunately, most of the films made about Jesus’ life when dealing with His early years have done just that. Forgive us, Holy Mother of God, we know NOT what we do. Lord Jesus, do not hold this error regarding your Holy Mother against Your ignorant children. May we do better to understand her role in our redemption during this Advent Season.
“God sent forth His Son,” but to prepare a body for Him, (cf Gal 4:4; Heb 10:5), He wanted the free cooperation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of His Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1: 26-27)
The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.
Eve brought the expulsion from Eden thus entered in death, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die.” (cf Gen 2: 16b-17)
But Mary brought forth the Savior who gives LIFE, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…all things were made through Him…In Him was LIFE, and the LIFE was the light of men.” (Jn 1:1, 3a, 4)
Thus Mary is the Mother of Life as she IS the Mother of God, Who is the Word made flesh, Jesus the Christ (cf Jn 1:14).
St. Anne was born in Bethlehem of rich parents who owned many flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. But they regularly gave away to the poor a large part of their possessions and kept very little for themselves. After Anne’s birth they moved to a beautiful country estate… near Nazareth.
One day Anne happened to be praying fervently to God to give her a husband who would help her to live according to the Divine Law. And at the very same moment on another farm near Nazareth and unusually pious middle-aged bachelor named Joachim was also praying for God’s help in choosing a wife.
When the prayers of St. Anne and St. Joachim were presented by the angels before the throne of the Blessed Trinity, God decreed that this pure couple should unite in marriage…
In their home they frequently talked together about God and the coming of the Redeemer, for which they prayed long and fervently. Both Anne and Joachim had been serious even in their youth. Now as they matured, they made a distinguished and devout couple.
In His wisdom Almighty God proceeded to purify them still further by giving them a heavy cross to bear, a cross which only grew heavier as the years passed: they remained childless. Among the Israelites in those times, this was considered not only the greatest misfortunes and disgrace (1Sam 1:5,7,10-11)…
This same condition would reappear in Salvation History with St. Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), and her husband, Zacharaiah, and their experience just before John was conceived. See Luke 1: 5-7
But they took these humiliations with patience and continued to pray that God might bless their marriage with children. Seven years passed without an answer to their prayers.
THEN ONE DAY…
…when Joachim was offering his sacrifice in the temple, the priest rebuked and insulted him saying, “Why do you come here, Joachim? Your offerings are not acceptable to the Lord!” His face burning with shame, the poor man withdrew to a corner of the Temple and prayed: “O Lord, my sins merit this disgrace. But as I accept it according to Thy will, do not cast me away…”
That evening St. Anne was sitting under a great tree in her garden reading prayers… begging God to send Joachim home and to let them have at least one child – she was now 44 years. Then she prayed…for the coming of the Messiah. Just then the Archangel Gabriel suddenly appeared before her in resplendent form:
“Anne, servant of God, the Lord has heard thy petitions. If He delays in their fulfillment, it is in order to prepare thee and give to thee much more than thou has asked…He sends me to give thee joyful news: He chooses thee to be the mother of her who is to give birth to the Redeemer of mankind! … now go to the Temple to give thanks to the Lord, and [you] shall meet Joachim at the Golden Gate.”
This time the Holy Spirit moved the priests in the Temple to accept Joachim’s offerings courteously, and several of his friends congratulated him. Then two priests led him to the Holy Place and left him alone after burning incense on the altar.
While Joachim prayed on his knees with his arms extended, a bright angel appeared and told him that this childlessness was not a disgrace but and honor; for the child who was to be born of his wife would be the most perfect flower of the race of Abraham.
When Zacharaiah was praying at the Holy of Holies, as was his lot (see Lk 1: 8-9), the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and foretold him of John’s birth, (see Lk 1: 13-17). Mind you, Zacharaiah didn’t handle the news too well and was struck dumb because of it, see Lk 1: 18-20.
Thus it happened that near the Golden Gate… They hastened toward each other and embraced with tender emotion… As they now renewed their vow to offer their child to His Temple…A cloud of heavenly light enfolded them, while a great number of angels hovered over them…Never had a human couple achieved such supernatural purity of soul.
Thus did Almighty God prepare and purify Mary’s good parents until the great day at last came when the glorious mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God took place.
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS REPORTED TO HAVE SAID TO:
ST BRIDGET OF SWEDEN: Know that is not for your own sake alone that I speak to you, but also for the salvation of all Christians…
VEN. MOTHER MARY OF AGREDA: Many mysteries pertaining to My Mother…are still hidden,…I desire to make known to mortals how much her intercession is worth…If men would seek to please Me…if they would all begin to solicit her intercession from their whole heart, the world would find some relief.”
SISTER ANNA CATHERINE EMMERICH: I give you these visions – and I have ever done so – to prove that I shall be with My Church till the end of days. But visions alone sanctify no one; you must practice charity, patience, and all the other virtues.”
Lord, open our eyes and our ears to hear Your Word as we prepare to welcome Your Son into our hearts. Give us the knowledge of Your LOVE that we crave, and help us to bring that LOVE into our wounded and hungry hearts so that we may share it with others. You Yourself said:
Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear… ~Rev 3:19-22
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love; according to Thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Behold, Thou desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. ~Ps 51: 1-2, 6, 10
In Jesus’ name, we humbly pray, AMEN!