Today begins the O Antiphons. Traditionally, listed from last to first in Latin they spell ERO CRAS, which means “Tomorrow, I will come.” That’s what we are waiting for in Advent, the second coming of Christ. We celebrate his birth while awaiting his second coming.
The O Antiphon for today is O Sapientia, O Wisdom. Each antiphon has a corresponding verse in “O Come, Emmanual.”
O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go
“Does not wisdom call, does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, in the paths she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the sons of men. O simple ones, learn prudence; O foolish men, pay attention. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands and right to those who find knowledge. Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. I, wisdom, dwell in prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.” Prov. 8.1-12
In the first reading from Zephaniah, I read this verse: “She listens to no voice, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD, she does not draw near to her God.” (3.2) I read it over and over. I’ve been praying to draw closer to God, that He will draw me to Him, especially during this advent season. But maybe I’m not listening, not accepting correction, not trusting. It seemed like Zephaniah was talking directly to me. Like he was warning me.
So I pray to God that He will help me listen, accept correction and trust because I’m certainly not able to do it on my own. That’s the thing about being in a relationship with God. My feeble efforts amount to nothing. All the goodness and virtue and growth comes from Him, not from me.
Help me heed this warning and place all my trust in You, my God. Help me to listen and to accept the correction that You send. Draw me close to You.
This sickness has brought me down quite a bit. It’s forced me to be much quieter, much less active. And that’s not a bad thing.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a truly miraculous story. At just the time when the Protestants were breaking away from the Church, Our Lady appeared in Mexico and brought in a similar number as was lost in Europe. “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” To celebrate we had fajitas and mexi-rice.
I’ve not been very successful at offering my daily tasks to Our Lord. Occasionally I remember. I’ll keep trying.
Wow, still not feeling so well. This illness has modified my Advent plans a bit. I haven’t been able to sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament since Wednesday. Perhaps I’ll be able to get back to doing that on Monday. Instead, I’ve been able to offer the annoyances of illness up to God, particularly for a priest-friend who is struggling right now.
I’ve been reading transcripts of retreat videos on occasion. One was about St. Therese and her Little Way. Now, I know about St. Therese and the Little Way, but for some reason, she and I have never clicked. I have never felt I could relate to her. This video, though, made me desire to try her Little Way. I’m trying to remember to offer up my mundane jobs throughout the day–when I’m sweeping or putting laundry in the wash or cooking dinner. Just a simple prayer, “Lord, I offer this to you.” I hope I can make this a habit and thereby sanctify and give more purpose to my daily duties.
I thank you, my God, for this illness that is forcing me to slow down, quiet myself and rely on Your strength to go through my days. You are Goodness and Mercy itself.
Handel’s Messiah is one of my favorite things about Advent and Christmas. And today’s reading in the Old Testament is from the beginning of the oratorio: “Comfort Ye My People.”
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Isaiah 40. 1-4
God was speaking to me today of fear and trust.
The first reading for mass today was from Isaiah. The verse that particularly struck me was “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not!'” (35. 4). I think my anxiety boils down to having a fearful heart. I fear that I’m not teaching my children well enough, that my confirmation class won’t learn what they need to, that I won’t touch their hearts. And why do I fear? Because I’m relying on my own strength, not God’s. I have to empty myself of self, stop relying on myself and my abilities, and completely surrender to God.
Then in The Noonday Devil I read that “Holiness consists of such a state of poverty that at every moment one is obliged to ask everything of the Holy Spirit, one is dependent on him, convinced that without his grace one can do nothing” (p.177). In my mind I know this to be true, but I seldom put it in to practice. It’s not me who is going to get anything done or teach anyone or plant any seeds. It’s God.
This brings me back to the spiritual childhood that I’ve studied and tried to implement. Since I am human and not divine, I’ll never “graduate” in love or perfection. I’ll never “attain” in this life. I have to remember, every moment beginning again. Conversion of heart, day after day, minute after minute. Even in heaven, Bl. Newman says, we will be in this state of spiritual childhood: “and so on for eternity I shall ever be a little child beginning to be taught the rudiments of Thy infinite divine nature” (Lead, Kindly Light p.120).
Lord, remind me that I am Your child. That I always will be. I’ll never graduate or complete a level. Remind me to begin again each day, each moment. Help me to trust Your strength, Your knowledge, Your power.