•This Sunday, December 10, is our annual Advent Lessons and Carols, in the abbey church, beginning at 7:00 PM. All students are expected to attend; all parents/families are welcome. A reception follows in the Perpetual Help and St. Joseph classrooms.
•The school will have an Open House for perspective students this Sunday, December 10, at 3:30 PM. Spread the word.
•First Semester Exams are this week, Wednesday through Friday.
•Students will be dismissed for Christmas vacation on Friday, December 15, at12:30 PM (after their last exam). No one may be excused from exams.
•Report cards will be emailed home on Thursday, December 21.
•Students return to school for the beginning of the second semester on Sunday, January 7. Those going to Rome may return the next day (Monday) in time for their first period class.
•The next soccer game is: Tuesday, December 12, at 3:00 PM, at St. Michael’s.
•The next basketball game is: Monday, December 11, at 3:30 PM, at Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School [5200 Bonita Canyon Dr, Irvine, CA 92603].
Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high, and behold the joy that cometh to thee from thy God.
These are the words of the Communion antiphon from today’s Holy Mass. Behold the joy that cometh to thee from God. We hear a lot about “joy” in these days before Christmas. We see the word painted on windows of stores, and Christmas songs, even the secular ones, speak of “the joy of Christmas.” But one sometimes doubts whether people really know in what true joy consists. If they did, perhaps more would search for it in the right place.
Joy, to give a real philosophical definition, is the resting of the will in the object it desires. When we love something, we seek to possess it, and upon possessing it, our wills rest in it and, consequently, we are filled with joy. Every human being, no matter who he is, seeks to be joyful, seeks to possess his heart’s desire. The problem is that many foolishly think that they can find true joy where it simply does not exist: money, pleasures of the flesh, worldly knowledge and success… All these things pass away; and so, even if they do bring a certain amount of pleasure, it would be impossible for them to bring us true and everlasting joy. The only thing that can fulfill all of man’s desires is the one and ultimate thing for which he was created—God. As St. Augustine once summed it up, “Oh God, Thou has made us for Thyself; and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” And so, today, on this Second Sunday of Advent, the Church already begins to rejoice, even before Advent is over, because she knows that Christmas is almost here, a time when we commemorate the coming of Christ—the cause of all our joy—into this world of ours.
The Fathers and Doctors of the Church teach us that there are really 3 different, but not unrelated, comings of Christ: 1) the first one, when He came as a little Child some 2,000 years ago; 2) the last one, when He will come at the end of the world to judge all men; 3) and the third one takes place now, when He comes to us everyday in grace. Each coming of Our Lord brings with it an immense joy, one which does not pass away, for those who are well-prepared to receive Him.
Think of that first coming: how diligently must St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin have prepared for the arrival of the Divine Infant! Although He was born in a stable, we can be sure that they did everything they could to give Him a worthy welcome.
And consider that last coming: a day which for some will be a true “Day of Wrath,” where they will receive the dreadful sentence, condemning them to eternal suffering because of their sins; and for the others, for those who had prepared well, it will be the day which will begin an eternity of complete and unimaginable bliss.
But we don’t have to wait until the end of the world to get a taste, so to speak, of that perfect joy; because Christ also comes to us daily—always seeking to draw nearer to us, if we would only prepare our hearts to receive Him.
No doubt, most of you are well into your Christmas preparations: buying the gifts, making the food, putting up the decorations… But soon after Christmas the gifts will grow old, the food will be finished, the decorations will come down. And then, where will be the joy of Christmas?
If you want to do yourself a favor; if you want to treat yourself to the greatest Christmas gift possible (and one which will not cost a penny), prepare yourself well for the coming of Christ. Give a little more time to prayer during these days before Christmas; perform some small acts of penance in reparation for your sins; go to Confession; maybe even go to Mass a couple extra times during the week. Sweep out that stable of your soul, and make room for the King of Kings Who wants to dwell there.
Sadly, this is a time of the year when many fall into great depression; the number of suicides often rises during this time which ought to be filled with great joy. Well, we have the wonderful world of materialism to thank for this. People often cannot see passed all the fleeting pleasures of this world, and blinded as they are to the one and only source of all perfect happiness, they see find no reason to rejoice, and every reason to despair.
Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high, and behold the joy that cometh to thee from thy God. Begin preparing now for Our Lord’s coming: for His coming to you daily in grace and truth; for the commemoration of His first coming at Christmas; and in so doing, you will be well-prepared for His last coming, when He will reward all those who have prepared diligently with the greatest gift ever—perfect and everlasting joy with Him in heaven. Amen.
•For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
•For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
•For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.