Skip to comments.The Sunday Propers: Gaudete Sunday
Posted on 12/14/2014 8:32:51 AM PST by Salvation
In his commentary on today’s Mass in The Liturgical Year, Dom Prosper Gueranger speaks of a Church that will “somewhat lessen” the penitential season in today’s liturgy. Bells are rung, the Gloria is sung and the organ is played, something that doesn’t happen during Advent normally. Why is this so? While normally we answer “to anticipate the joy of the Messiah”, I think a deeper answer is in order, and today’s liturgy provides it.
When we fast, it is important to remember that the point is not to “give something up.” The point is not even to add something of our own, which many frequently do during times of penance. Praiseworthy as these practices are, that’s not the point of Advent. If our Advent is defined simply by what we do, then it is a failed Advent.
The Story of John the Baptist (as related in today’s Epistle) shows us what the real point of Advent is. John lived a life of great austerity. He lived in the desert and had a diet of insects and honey. He dressed in gear that would make the hairshirts of lore appear comfortable. In all of these actions, he was meant to be a sign to the people of Israel: prepare your hearts, something big is about to happen. First and foremost, Advent is about this preparation. Whether we add or subtract from our lives, the purpose is to prepare for the coming of Christ. This is a part of Advent that many are familiar with.
What is less talked about is what happens after (and because) of that time of preparation. Eventually, John the Baptist encounters the Messiah, “whose shoe I am not worthy to loose.” When he encounters Christ, he finds fulfillment. “He must increase, I must decrease.” The prayers in today’s liturgy help us understand what happens as a result of that fulfillment. The Collect tells us that as a result of that encounter with Christ, he “enlightens the darkness of our minds.” In today’s society we understand the darkness of man’s mind better than most. Never before has a society been so educated yet so lacking in understanding. Even secular society bemoans this fact.
Christ became man to remedy this situation. The Preface of Advent tells us that Christ “instructs the ignorant…. and help the weak by his power.” While Christianity does not promise to create a race of genius converts, it cannot be denied that Christianity has left an indelible mark on any society it takes root in. Just as the grace of Christ enlightens the darkness of individual men, that same grace enlightens entire societies.
How does this enlightenment occur? The Secret today tells us that it is accomplished through the Eucharist, which will “wonderfully accomplish in us Thy salvation.” The Eucharist is the sacrifice of Calvary made present to man throughout history. We encounter Christ just as the baptizer did, and our response is the same: He must increase, I must decrease. Yet contrary to popular belief, as this occurs, we don’t lose who we are. Quite the contrary, we become more who we were meant to be. After this encounter John became even bolder in proclaiming God’s truth, and was eventually imprisoned and beheaded because of it.
While we might not be called to martyrdom, we will be changed by our encounter with Christ, and that change should be to proclaim Christ with greater resolve. If you notice in the Bible, holiness is never measured in how many prayers someone said, or even by how many pious deeds one did. All of these things are important, and one is delusional in thinking they can be saved without them. Yet they aren’t the real measure of holiness. Holiness is in how bold you are for Christ. Do your words and works proclaim Jesus as they did for John the Baptist? Is our fasting helping others to see Christ, or simply see how austere we are?
Halfway through Advent, it is fitting that Gaudete Sunday would mention these things and tell the story of John the Baptist. We are not only joyful because of the nearness of the Messiah, we are joyful because we are preparing our hearts for Him, and because of that preparation we are more open to hear him. Once we encounter Him, we can then proclaim Him to the world, using the words of today’s Communion verse from the Prophet Isaiah: Say: Ye fainthearted, take courage and fear not: behold our God will come, and will save us.
**Once we encounter Him, we can then proclaim Him to the world, using the words of todays Communion verse from the Prophet Isaiah: Say: Ye fainthearted, take courage and fear not: behold our God will come, and will save us.**
Gaudete Sunday Ping!
Thanks for the Bump to the Top!
nobody wore rose.
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