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3rd Sunday of Advent 2008

 
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Fr.Paul Weinberger
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Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:30 pm    Post subject: 3rd Sunday of Advent 2008 Reply with quote

3rd Sunday of Advent 2008

Homily by:
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
December 14, 2008

He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert; make straight the way of the Lord as Isaiah the Prophet said.”

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen

Normally my vestment would be purple but today it is rose, and the difference on the 3rd Sunday of Advent as you can see from the Advent candles, is the rose colored candle. We have one Sunday left before Christmas, the birth of Christ. The Church does this in Advent and during Lent. So the vestment is worn only twice a year because the Church, as teacher and mother is worried that you and I have so dedicated ourselves to prayer and good works that by now we might be overdoing it and need to put on the brakes, so to speak. It is like you and I are in company with the Prophet Isaiah or St., John the Baptist, as well as St. John of the Cross, whose feast would be celebrated today if it weren’t on Sunday. But you and I have taken on ourselves such aesthetics practices as the saints did that the Church is worried that we might be over doing it. Would that it were true about me, and it can probably be said about you. But the Church gives us this Sunday to look forward to Christmas through the lens, if you will, of the Immaculate Conception.

The arrangement of the statues you see here of the angels and Our Lady is a classical statue of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, but then again so is this. Our Lady of Guadalupe first appeared to St. Juan Diego on December 9, 1531. But in art the more common depiction is of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, especially in Europe, if you will. But this statue of Our Lady and the angel comprise a setting reminiscent of the Annunciation, the day when the angel announced to the angel that she was to be the mother of Jesus. These were put here in honor of the Immaculate Conception and next week we will take them out and place a statue of St. Joseph there.

Last year on December 8th Pope Benedict declared a year of favor, like it says in that first reading of the Prophet Isaiah. A Jubilee Year was granted in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary because one hundred fifty years ago Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in the south of France beginning on February 11th. The Immaculate Conception is the Dogma concerning the first moment in the first minute of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. To see the Immaculate Conception as we should is to see her as the door through which we pass to arrive at Jesus. The Immaculate Conception makes possible, about fifteen years later, the Incarnation.

You see the angel bowing down before Our Lady here. Wait a minute; we only bow down before God. Exactly! The angel is bowing down because the first moment in the first minute in the life of Christ on earth is the Incarnation…the Mystery of the Incarnation, and then nine months later we recall the birth of Jesus on December 25th.

Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette and every time St. Bernadette told someone about this meeting St. Bernadette never said she saw the Blessed Virgin Mary. No, she said she saw a beautiful lady. That is exactly what St. Juan Diego said about Our Lady of Guadalupe; he called her a beautiful lady. He allowed the Church to figure out the identity of this beautiful lady, so to speak. St. Bernadette was besieged on every side to ask the lady her name and so she did from the beginning but she never would reveal her name.

When Fr. Angelo was here last week from the Franciscans of the Immaculate, he made mention of something that happened with St. Bernadette and Our Lady that I had never heard before and it was that St. Bernadette’s aunt was putting so much pressure on her that she, the aunt, devised a plan. She equipped St. Bernadette was a piece of paper and a pen and when Bernadette went to the grotto she lifted up the piece of paper and pen. Of all the apparitions of Our Lady over the centuries this is the only time that we have ever heard that Our Lady laughed out loud. “Ha ha, you want me to sign that?” Can you imagine if she had signed it and a lawyer got hold of it? No telling.

Anyway, St. Bernadette continued to ask the beautiful lady what her name was and she revealed herself on March 25, 1858. She raised her hands and raised her eyes to Heaven and then just as what is imprinted on Miraculous Medals, Our Lady put her hands at her side and she said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The Miraculous Medal of course is the medal of the Immaculate Conception. “O Mary conceived without sin”, is inscribed on the medal.

The Virgin Mary identified herself as the Immaculate Conception and on that particular day, March 25th. If you look at March 25th and add nine months you get Christmas. There is a mystical exchange between the Immaculate Conception and the Annunciation because they both deal with the first moment of the first minute in the lives of two separate individuals…Our Lady and then about fifteen years later, her Son. It was the first moment of Jesus’ earthly life; He was still true God but He took on flesh in the Mystery of the Incarnation. The Church expects you and me to be meditating on this mystery, to be praying about it and mulling it over and getting ready for this great Feast of Christmas.

That prayer in your bulletin, which we prayed just before Holy Mass is one method that I recommend to you today, and perhaps reintroduce into your life, this prayer known as the Angelus If you cover the last two letters in the word Angelus, you get the word angel. Angelus is Latin for “the angel” Those are the first words of the prayer. “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” That is what the angels is doing, bowing down to Our Lady, who has just conceived the Savior of the World.

When St. John Baptist Marie Vianney went to his first parish in the South of France at a place called Ars, he had a parish that had been wrecked along with all of France by the French Revolution. One of the first ways he started to rebuild that parish was to introduce the Angelus. He would ring the bell in the morning, at noon, the evening, and at midnight. He did this at 6 am, noon, 6pm, and midnight. These are traditional times for the Angelus for people who have a wristwatch. I bet he didn’t have a wristwatch so he would just use dawn, noon, dusk, and then midnight. The people had to be trained in how to pray the Angelus all over again because they had fallen out of the habit.

I have some very simple instruction in the bulletin to go over very quickly with you. Notice that there is a cross next to line number one an eleven. You can’t presume that children know this, but that means that while saying those words we make the Sign of the Cross. At, at the very beginning of the prayer and at the end of the prayer we make the Sign of the Cross. I noted that when you reach line number five, “And the Word was made flesh”, which focus on the Incarnation, we genuflect, taking the right knee and touch it all the way to the floor. If you are not able to do that because of infirmity or age or both, don’t worry. And if you are driving a car and praying the Angelus, please don’t genuflect. You will cause an accident.

This prayer in total takes about a minute and a half to two minutes. It is a beautiful prayer and one I look forward to everyday and it is a prayer that we need to start to introduce into our prayer life during Advent and continue after Advent at the prescribed times. Suppose you don’t get up at 6am and you get up after? You don’t have to pray the Angelus right away; you could actually wash your face and get a cup of coffee and then when you are actually aware of your surroundings then you pray the Angelus. Lets say you remember at twelve fifteen that you forgot to say the Angelus at twelve and you think it is too late…no, go ahead and pray the Angelus. Who is going to arrive, the Angelus Police? It is not going to happen.

What I am trying to get at here is that at certain times of the day we should turn away from what is absorbing us and turn to this Mystery of the Incarnation. Christ could have come to us in any way but He chose to spend nine months waiting for His birth as you and I did. He did this in order to save us. What a tremendous act of humility for Our Savior to do this. I would also encourage that, while praying the Angelus all other means of communication cease. Don’t just mute the TV turn it off. It will still be there in a minute and a half, don’t worry. It is amazing what can flash across the screen of a TV in a minute and a half.

At the time of St. John Vianney if someone were out in the fields or walking around town and they heard the Angelus bells they would freeze like a statue and begin to pray the Angelus with everyone else around town. At the conclusion of the Angelus they would go on about their work. It is a way of bringing prayer in the workday world.

I am going to go on to one other point that St. John Vianney introduced into his parish; it is called “Sanctifying the hour”…making holy the hour. This is very important because every day when I pick up the paper or turn on the TV, computer, radio, or I talk to my friends I get the same news. “The sky is falling.” It is. Terrible things are happening to people all over the place near and far but the thing is, you can only deal with so much before it starts to paralyze. Making holy the hour can be seen as an antidote to that. It is very simple.

I want to be very specific here because as beautiful and simple as it is some people can complicate it. Some people have these watches that have a little chirp every time the hands get to the top of the hour. A person knows that it is two or ten or whatever. You can stop what you are doing and say something along these lines. “Jesus, I Trust in You.” At ten if you are working at your desk and the chirp sounds, stop what you are doing and say, “Jesus I trust in You.” You might just merely say, “Jesus”.

The two Franciscans that were here last week would say to each other when they saw one another for the first time that day, “Ave Maria.” That is Hail Mary in Latin. You also might do something seasonal, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” Whatever you choose, don’t just say it as if a robot were saying it. Say it with intention, dedication, and meaning. Then turn right back to what you were doing and what you will have done is you will have broken a chain.

Look up here at the Immaculate Conception and you see Our Lady is doing something that any woman would fear to do; she is stepping on a snake. The only reason I can guess that the Blessed Mother would want to tread on a serpent is so that it would be kept away from her children. Otherwise women are up on a chair, “Eek. Eek!” Right? The Blessed Mother wants to break the hold the other team has on us. The other team can use the events in the paper, radio and TV. The people on the radio, TV and in the paper only have so much time to tell you that the sky is falling and by the time you turn them off you are a nervous wreck. By the end of the hour isn’t it refreshing to turn away from all that and break the chain of worry? Some of us can be Olympic. Worriers. I can worry in the Olympics and win the gold medal every time. But, we can come up to the top of the hour and put away what we have for just a moment to say, “Jesus”, or “Ave Maria”, or “Our Father”.

Now, I don’t want you to do something like, “Well, I know this is the top of the hour so lets say a Rosary.” That is not what I am talking about. Some people can complicate this to where the prayers are going to take twenty-five minutes. I am talking about a very brief turn away from whatever is absorbing us and turn to the Lord. After doing that the force of what had occupied us before is not as intense or we have a fresh prospective. It is a beautiful custom and it should be employed and we should try and hand this on to our children, especially the Angelus and this way of sanctifying the hour. If you are in a bad mood try doing this every hour and staying in that bad mood.

The fact is that Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception points to Jesus. St. John the Baptist points to Jesus; even in the womb he pointed to Jesus. The Prophet Isaiah, centuries before Christ pointed to Jesus. After Christ came St. Paul, who is pointing to Jesus. This is what you and I are called to do right now, just moments before Christmas…point to Jesus in the Mystery of the Incarnation. St. John the Baptist said,

“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert; make straight the way of the Lord, as Isaiah the Prophet said.”

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen
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