Purple is Back!

And no, I’m not talking about J. Beib and his fav color. I AM talking about the start of Advent and a happy, exciting New Year for the Church! Happy New Year, yall!!

Raise your hand if you were as excited about the first Mass with the New Roman Missal changes as you will be about Christmas morning…

Yeah, you better believe I was! — AM! I love the new prayers. I love how the whole church was a little vulnerable, a little unsure, laughing under their breath at themselves, trying to do their best through the whole Mass. That’s how it ought to be! That’s who we are — just trying to figure it out as we go, not taking ourselves too seriously, but doing our very best to find our place in the prayer of the Church. The new changes rock. The Church rocks!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the color purple and the penitential aspects of Advent lately. I suppose I haven’t given the purple/penance part a huge amount of thought before, but my friend Sean over at The Passionate Papist offered seven great tips for observing Advent and made me think twice. Number 5 totally hooked me, and I’m going to dive into that this year.

I’m giving up Christmas desserts for Advent. Cakes, cookies, candy, brownies, etc… oh, they look soooo good!!

:O

Sometimes, I think I’m crazy… but it will be worth it. Giving up something that seems “necessary” to the season is going to be my way of thinking counter-culturally this year. Desserts have become just about as essential to the holidays as shopping and gifting… and I’m not sure it’s helping me focus! You see, the Christmas season is really after Christmas gets here. We should spend these four weeks in preparation, in waiting, and in repentance and sacrifice. I think we can be so consumed with the celebratory parts of the holidays that we forget that purple is for penance, in honor of the King. The celebration begins with His birth, and it is preceded by time to reflect on our humility and how much we need Him to come and save us.

We know that life begins at conception. Christ took on human flesh when He was conceived at the Annunciation — March 25. He is already with us, He has already come to us, yet we wait for Christmas to mark His triumphant arrival. Mary and Joseph knew and waited for nine months. We hold our breath for only a few weeks. Our time of preparation and patience is short compared to theirs, and shorter still compared to the waiting of generations of God’s people.

We may wait until Christmas, but He is already here. He has taken on flesh, and He chose Mary as the means to come to us. What great humility we should have in realizing that even when we were unaware, He came to us! Before angels sang or stars appeared in the sky or kings traveled to bow down, He was among us.

This Advent, I’m waiting for Him to be revealed. I’m waiting for Him to be revealed in the Church, in the world, and in my heart. I’m waiting for Him to be revealed by His Mother. Mary holds Him, carries Him, and bears Him… and at Christmas, she will bring Him into the world. She will reveal what she has known since Gabriel appeared — He has come. If we can open our hearts to her, even in the least of ways, Mary will reveal Him to us. She is the only one who can! If we spend this time with her in prayer and waiting, she will beckon us close to feel Him kicking, know her patient hope, and wait with her until His glory is made known.

Is there something you can sacrifice or add to help you focus your prayer? What will you do this season to prepare your heart?

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Evangelizing Our Youth

“I think in particular of our need to speak to the hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness and truth. Much remains to be done, particularly on the level of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the New Evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in America.”
— Pope Benedict XVI

I had the privilege of watching and listening to a friend and youth minister share the Gospel with half a dozen teenagers in the RCIT program tonight.

I’m still sort of in shock — not because I was surprised by how authentically and passionately he delivered his message, but by how blown away the teens seemed to be! They were intensely engaged in what he was describing… as if the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a new story. They had admitted less than five minutes before that it was a story they all knew, yet here they were: leaning forward in anticipation, mouths slightly open, and brows furrowed in deep thought.

We broke open Scripture — John 3:16. We discussed the four reasons for the Incarnation (CCC 457-460). He told the story — he shared the Gospel. Then, the real Truth: this is what it’s all about. There is nothing else, this is what matters. He spoke to their hearts, he spoke with authority, and he catechized.

“Authentic catechesis is always an orderly and systematic initiation into the revelation that God has given of Himself to humanity in Christ Jesus, a revelation stored in the depths of the Church’s memory and in Sacred Scripture, and constantly communicated from one generation to the next by a living, active traditio.” (Catechesi Tradendae 22)

I have never seen the faces or heard the almost inaudible gasps as people have heard such a solid Christian witness. I heard their questions and understood their desire to know indisputable Truths, the credibility of our faith, the greatness of Mysteries, and the beauty of the Passion and the Cross. They continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness, and truth.

It’s so beautiful, to see how God can open hearts. Pray that our youth will be open to hearing the Gospel anew, and that the Spirit will give us the words to share what we have been privileged to know!

Our teens are living in darkness. We’ve got work to do. Let’s go, people!!

Spiritual Desert

A narrative of quotes about walking through that spiritual desert, with which many of us are all too familiar. How happy I am to look at the times when I’ve come and gone from this dryness, blessed to realize that darkness would be much worse! Keep fighting the good fight, brothers and sisters. Pray for each other and ask the Saints for their prayers!

When you feel like you cannot feel:

Be not afraid to tell Jesus that you love Him; even though it be without feeling, this is the way to oblige Him to help you, and carry you like a little child too feeble to walk.

— St. Therese of Lisieux

Be comforted even in your affliction:

Our Lord loves you and loves you tenderly; and if He does not let you feel the sweetness of His love, it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes.

— St. Pio of Pietrelcino

Do not let your feeling, or lack thereof, stand in the way of doing God’s work and being His hands and feet and smile and voice in this world:

It is certain that the love of God does not consist in experiencing sweetness or tenderness of heart, but in truly serving God in justice, strength, and humility.

— St. Therese of Lisieux

Remember who we are and recognize from where we have come. We can choose gratitude, even in our desert:

Here are we, with a thousand obstacles, drawbacks, and imperfections within ourselves, our virtues so newly born that they have scarcely the strength to act (and God grant that they exist at all!) yet we are not ashamed to expect sweetness in prayer and to complain of feeling dryness.

— St. Teresa of Avila

 

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.

We groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
We wait with endurance.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.

What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or famine?

No, in all things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:18-39, in parts)