·Our Robotics Club will be competing this weekend. Keep them in your prayers.
·The next Moms’ Prayer Group meeting will be this Sunday, December 2, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help classroom.
·A representative from Wyoming College will be on campus on Monday, after Mass.
·On Sunday, December 9, at 7:00 PM, there will be meeting for all going on the Rome trip this year. See Fr. Vianney for more details.
·The school’s Lessons and Carols will be on Sunday, December 16, at 7:00 PM, in the abbey church. All students are required to be present. All families are welcome. A reception follows in the Perpetual Help and St. Joseph classrooms.
·Our confrere, Fr. John Henry Hanson, has recently published a book on the Psalms. It is highly recommended, and would make a great Christmas gift! https://scepterpublishers.org/pages/praying-from-the-depths-of-psalms
·Students are dismissed for Christmas vacation on Friday, December 21, at 12:15 PM (after they finish their last exam).
·Our next soccer games are: today (November 30), at 5:00 PM, at Vanguard University [55 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626]; Tuesday (December 4), at 3:00 PM, at Brethren Christian Junior & Senior High School [21141 Strathmoor Ln, Huntington Beach, CA 92646]; Friday (December 7), at 2:00 PM, at Lake Forest Sports Park [28000 Rancho Pkwy, Lake Forest, CA 92630]
·Our next basketball games are: today (November 30) at 2:00 PM at Ladera Sports Center [2 Terrace Rd, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694]; Tuesday (December 4) at 2:00 PM, at Ladera Sports Center; Thursday (December 6) at 7:00 PM, at Lutheran High School [3960 Fruit St, La Verne, CA 91750]; Friday (December 7), at 2:00 PM, at Ladera Sports Center
On this First Sunday of Advent we find an apparently contradictory message in today’s liturgical readings. In the first reading we hear God’s people begging Him to come to them: Return for the sake of your servants, they say, Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, and so on. But in the Gospel God is telling His people, Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come—God is here comparing Himself to a thief who will sneak up on you when you least expect it, an unexpected arrival which you would prefer to do without. So, is God’s coming among us a good thing, which we should eagerly await, or is it something to be dreaded, like an enemy’s attack?
Well, before we answer that question, consider the words of an ancient Christian writer, Peter of Blois, who wrote the following: There are three comings of our Lord: the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at judgment…The first was humble and hidden, the second is mysterious and full of love, the third will be majestic and terrible. This idea of the three comings of Christ—first, when He was born in a manger; second, when He comes into our souls in grace; and third, when He will come at the end of time to judge us—this idea has been repeated by many others Christian writers. St. Bernard said something similar: In the first coming God comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.
So when we prepare during Advent for Christ’s coming, we are really preparing for three comings: We daily prepare our souls for the increase of His grace, His divine life in us—when He comes to us in the sacraments, especially Holy Communion. We prepare for Christmas Day, when we commemorate and pay homage to His first coming. And by so doing, by opening our hearts and minds to the first two comings, we prepare ourselves for His third and final coming—when He will come, as Scripture says, “like a thief in the night” and in all glory and power. St. Augustine summed it perfectly when he said: Let us not resist His first coming, that we might not be terrified at His last coming. Let us offer Him humility and love and so confidently await His coming as Judge.
So, there is much preparation, spiritual preparation, that we should be focusing on during these next three or four weeks—something we so easily forget. Like Lent, Advent has traditionally been a penitential season. The use of violet as the liturgical color and the absence of the Gloria (or the “Glory to God”) from the Mass communicate this somber tone. In addition, there are restrictions placed on the use of the organ during Advent—the organ is supposed to be used only for accompanying hymns, no organ solos are allowed: all of this is meant to remind us that Advent should have a penitential feel to it.
In fact, Advent originally lasted forty days (actually forty-three), like our present-day Lent. It was sometimes called “St. Martin’s Lent”, from the fact that it began on the Feast of St. Martin, November 11th, and extended forty days or so until Christmas. By the ninth century Advent had been shortened to just four weeks, as it is now. In the Eastern Rite Churches Advent is still forty days and begins on the Feast of St. Phillip, November 14th , hence the name they sometimes give to Advent: “St. Phillip’s Lent.”
Up until about fifty years ago marriages were not allowed during Advent so as not to take the focus off of Christ’s coming. Although it was never as severe as Lent and has always had a joyful air about it, nevertheless Advent is supposed to be a time of serious spiritual preparation, with prayer, abstinence and fasting, and confession of sins.
In the first centuries of Christianity Christians fasted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent. This practice of fasting would later be extended to the entire season of Advent—forty days of fasting for all. Throughout the Church’s history the amount of fasting and abstinence in Advent would change many times and would often vary from place to place: from fasting throughout the entire season, to abstinence only, to abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays, and so on. The more rigorous programs were always kept in the monasteries and convents. Even up until the Second Vatican Council the norm in some countries still prescribed fasting for all Wednesday’s and Friday’s of Advent. And one can find even today—at least in a few monasteries throughout the world—the traditional fast for all four weeks of Advent.
Consider the words of an ancient Christian writer: Imagine if any of you had to receive into your home a distinguished person, how you would clean your house of all dirt and filth, and prepare to the best of your ability all good and necessary things. And if a mortal being would do all this in order to receive another mortal, how much more ought the creature cleanse himself in order that he might not be displeasing to His Creator Who comes in the Flesh?
God will someday come to visit us. For those who are not ready, it will be like a thief in the night. For those who have been preparing all along, it will be the cause of great joy—eternal and perfect joy. Come Lord Jesus.
·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.
·For the Church.