Sunday, 13 December

21:36

It’s not impossible, just very difficult, to glean ‘heresy’ from conduct [In the Light of the Law]

My observation that Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago is not a “heretic” exposed considerable misunderstanding about the notion of “heresy”. Confusion on this matter should surprise no one, for antinomian times, such as those obtaining now, discourage wider familiarity with certain basic terms of ecclesiastical discourse. Among the comments I have received, some run along these lines: “Just look at everything Abp. Cupich does! If he’s not heretic, no one is!”

Oh dear. Shall we examine this claim in light of what the law actually says?

Three points: (1) “Heretic” is not a term used to describe, say, a prelate who one thinks is doing a bad job, but rather, denotes someone given to “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (Canon 751). (2) “Heresy” is not a ‘bad attitude’ but a crime punishable by a latae sententiae excommunication (and yes, automatic sanctions should be abolished from Roman canon law as they have been from Eastern, but the sanction itself—as opposed to the non-process by which it is supposedly incurred—reflects the gravity of the crime). And (3) a variety of canons (e.g., 18, 221 § 3, and several besides) protect the faithful against the unjust infliction of sanctions in the Church. In short, “heresy” means something very specific in canon law and there are criteria for using the word correctly.

Now, setting aside the what “is to be believed” (we’ll take an easy example below), the vast majority of heresy cases with which I am familiar took as their occasion a speech or writing, that is, a verbal proposition or assertion: “Jesus was not God” or “Mary had other children by Joseph” and so on. These assertions directly present, or logically and unequivocally amount to, the ‘doubt or denial’ of a protected truth that, if uttered under the circumstances outlined in Canon 751, constitute heresy—but only such assertions and only if uttered under such circumstances.

Our question here is: can physical actions or a manner of conduct amount to a verbal assertion of the sort qualifying as heresy? Possibly. Let’s take a case wherein there is no question about what is to be believed with divine and Catholic faith.

Suppose a Catholic, contrary to CCC 1374, does not accept that Jesus is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist. He never expresses this opinion in words but steadfastly refuses to make a sign of reverence when passing before a tabernacle. In such a case, his action/omission accurately reflects his heretical views, yes—but, is it not obvious that the evidentiary problems (of trying to parlay someone’s failure to genuflect when passing before a tabernacle into proof of the crime of heresy) are almost insurmountable? In this case, the action or omission might well be evidence of heresy but it is not remotely proof of the crime.

Let’s take a more graphic case: the same man, disgusted by what he regards as idolatry of a piece of bread, breaks open the tabernacle and scatters the hosts on the ground. Some might say, “If that is not proof of a Eucharistic heresy, what would be?” In one sense, they are correct, for scattering hosts on the ground as if they were nothing but bits of bread would be strong evidence of a certain Eucharistic heresy. But here’s the problem: the exact same action—stealing hosts and scattering them on the ground—could be committed by someone who thoroughly believes in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist but does the evil act as a gesture of contempt for Jesus! We see, thus, that without words, or without a very wide and sustained pattern of activity/omission, it is very difficult (not impossible, but very difficult), to glean heresy from someone’s conduct. The burden is on the accuser to prove charges, especially serious charges, and proving heresy by words is, as it should be, difficult; but proving heresy solely by actions or omissions, even repeated ones, is very difficult.

Mind, one’s deleterious actions or omissions might be evidence of other canonical crimes (e.g., as above, sacrilege, per c. 1367) or, as suggested in my earlier post, pastoral negligence (e.g., failure to urge the observance of ecclesiastical discipline per c. 392), but heresy?

I don’t think so. In most heresy cases, words speak louder than actions.


20:19

There are two major points that I appreciate in Mons Charles Pope's essay... [marcpuck]

That appeared on the 6th in the National Catholic Register, titled, 'A "Dangerous" Post on the Recent Terrorist Attacks', one of greater significance in the world's perilous situation, one of more private importance. I had thought it must first have been posted on his blog but don't see it in the feed reader. 

He explains quite carefully why nonsense (misunderstandings and acrimony and dives into the abyss of demonisation &c) on social media is almost inevitable-- ceteris paribus, ahem. 

... Most often today people hear a point and absolutize what the speaker is saying, or presume the speaker means the point in an absolute way, with no distinctions or exceptions or acknowledgment that other factors are also at work. And this is a lack of sophistication since people seldom speak in absolute terms with no exceptions or distinctions. On the other hand a speaker, teacher or writer cannot speak to every possible scenario and so speaks of general principles, with the understanding that circumstances may vary, or, as the old commercials said, “mileage may vary.” And this what it means to hold “other things equal”. So allow me to make a dangerous and controversial point about the increasing violence we in the West are experiencing from radical Islamists. It is a point that I do not mean absolutely. Neither do I propose it as the only explanation for our troubles today....

His other and more substantial concern, to which all of that is simply his Reverence attempting not to be misunderstood from the outset, is that the divine chastisements that our degenerate societies suffer are only to be expected from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob revealed fully finally and definitively in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who whipped the traders from His Father's Temple and taught that fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and estates and even the great good of marriage, must be abandoned in order to pursue His Kingdom, which is not of this world. 

Simply put, part of the explanation is that God is permitting increased violence, and not restraining it, as a kind of chastisement on the increasingly secular West for our unbelief....
We have become, collectively, unmindful of God. We have pushed him to the peripheries. Secularism is rampant; church attendance is at an all-time low. And even for those who do believe, there is a widespread tendency among many to engage in a kind of false religion which features a designer god, a god of their own making and understanding, who just happens to agree with them on everything. The Scriptures call this idolatry. Those who worship the God who reveals himself in Scripture are fewer and fewer. So we are an unbelieving and increasingly unfaithful nation.
And we are perverse. Indeed almost every kind of perversity is on display and worse yet is approved and even celebrated by many. We have aborted more than 50 million of our children. Promiscuity is rampant, as is cohabitation, divorce, and the outright celebration of homosexual acts by many. Whereas such things used to cause shock and shame, today they are openly approved and made the stuff of entertainment. A recent television show featured a woman getting an abortion with the song “Silent Night” playing. This is not only perverse; it is blasphemous....
Am I blaming the victim? Yes, to some extent and other things being equal; and not the individual victims, but the collective victim: the decadent West of which I am a part. Yes, we share blame for what is happening to us. There are many factors at work in the current terror, but among them we cannot neglect the consistent biblical message that sin makes us weak and an easy target. At a certain point God hands us over to experience the fuller consequences of our rejection of his plan....

The entire essay is well worth reading &c. I have no idea what is this Riv he refers to; perhaps it is Hebrew for argumentum

Would that the clerics and prelates more concerned about my electricity use and procuring the so-called 'right' for those in mortal sin to receive the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar listened to the Mons Popes of the ecclesiastical world!

*§*§*§*

Such dreadful singing at Holy Mass! and yet even that cannot conceal that the heart is in the right place, more or less. I am very grateful to Almighty God that the pastor and clerics here, while turning a blind eye to one or two bits of nonsense (when to my mind they shouldn't of course: what is the proper collective noun for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion? dreadful singing...), are themselves pious exact and careful in their celebration of the Sacred Action. 

*§*§*§*


The sixth lesson at Matins this morning; from Pope St Leo the Great's second sermo de ieiunio decimi mensis:

Studeamus viduarum defensioni, pupillorum utilitati, lugentium consolationi, dissidentium paci. Suscipiatur peregrinus, adjuvetur oppressus, vestiatur nudus, foveatur aegrotus: ut quicumque nostrum de justis laboribus auctori bonorum omnium Deo sacrificium hujus pietatis obtulerit, ab eodem regni caelestis praemium percipere mereatur. Quarta igitur et sexta Feria jejunemus: Sabbato autem apud beatum Petrum Apostolum pariter vigilemus: cujus suffragantibus meritis, quae poscimus, impetrare possimus per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, qui cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

19:01

"An Invitation To Joy" – Across the Globe, "This Begins The Time of The Great Pardon" [Whispers in the Loggia]


Let us pray.

O God, all-powerful and merciful Father,
you grant your Church a time of grace, penance and forgiveness,
that she might have the joy to internally renew herself
by the work of the Holy Spirit
and to journey ever more faithfully in your ways
in announcing to the world the Gospel of salvation.
Open once more the door of your mercy
and welcome us one day into your dwelling in heaven,
where Jesus, your Son, has gone before us
and lives and reigns forever and ever.

Amen.
* * *
With that prayer – and, in an add-on not seen at Tuesday's universal rites, the Veni Creator invoking the Holy Spirit – the Pope opened this Jubilee of Mercy for his local church with this morning's push on the Holy Door of Rome's cathedral, St John Lateran, echoing the act that's taking place this weekend in all the 4,000-plus dioceses of the world (most of which have designated Holy Doors at several churches beyond their respective cathedrals.)

In his brief yet pointed homily, while hinging per usual on this Gaudete Sunday's readings, Francis drilled further into his vision for the Extraordinary Holy Year, calling it "the time of the great pardon" and emphasizing that "before the Holy Door... we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this.

"God does not love rigidity," the Pope said.

Here, the Vatican translation of the text – which, in a rarity for a liturgy, included some off-script additions:
The invitation extended by the Prophet to the ancient city of Jerusalem is also addressed today to the whole Church and each one of us: "Rejoice ... exault!" (Zephaniah 3:14). The reason for joy is expressed with words that inspire hope, and which can look to the future with serenity. The Lord has annulled every condemnation and chose to live among us.

This third Sunday of Advent draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now close. We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we have reason (for sadness), with many concerns and the many forms of violence which hurt our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy. The prophet Zephaniah, in whose very name is inscribed the content of this announcement, opens our hearts to trust: "God protects" His people. In a historical context of great abuse and violence, especially by men of power, God knows that He will reign over his people, who would never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and will free them from all anxiety. Today, we are asked not to let our “hands grow weak” because of doubt, impatience or suffering.

The Apostle Paul takes with force the teaching of the prophet Zephaniah and reiterates: "The Lord is near" (Phil 4,5). Because of this we should rejoice always, and with our affability give all witness of closeness and care that God has for each person.

We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of the great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything done with the tenderness of the Father. We too, like the crowds asked John, "What do we do?" (Lk 3:10). The response of the Baptist was immediate. He invites us to act justly and to look after the needs of those in need. What John demands of his representatives, however, it is what is reflected in the law. We, however, are prompted toward a more radical commitment. Before the Holy Door we are called to cross, we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this. He who is baptized knows he has a greater commitment. Faith in Christ leads to a journey that lasts for a lifetime: to be merciful, like the Father. The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries. It is from this infinite love that we are responsible, in spite of our contradictions.

We pray for us and for all who pass through the Door of Mercy, that we may understand and welcome the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, recreates, transforms and reforms life.
-30-

16:43

Elsewhere [Korrektiv]

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I very much liked this profile of Tom Wolfe by Michael Lewis. So many great lines. Remember reading?

I smiled quietly to myself when I read this bit about an abortion-themed play. Alphonse is kid’s stuff.

Work on Bat Out of Hell proceeds bit by tiny bit. I managed to get all my voice actors into the studio to record; now we’re picking takes and stitching things together. All that remains is sound effects, music, backgrounds, character image selection, and oh yes, animation. Sigh.

Here’s to better blogging (and a proper Summit) in 2016.

15:26

Letting our hearts be prepared [Καθολικός διάκονος]

One of the little appreciated treasures of the Liturgy of the Hours are the Alternative Prayers for Sundays and some solemnities. I hope these are retained in future revisions.

The Alternative Prayer for the Third Sunday of Advent is a great example. It was in perfect consonance with my spiritual state last evening:



Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
ever faithful to your promises
and ever close to your Church:
the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling the joy
which his presence will bestow,
for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.


Marantha. Come Lord Jesus. "We long for the time when all time is past."

10:49

Advent [Korrektiv]

dunes

The time of the first advent was foretold; the time of the second is not so; because the first was to be obscure, and the second is to be brilliant, and so manifest that even His enemies will recognise it. But, as He was first to come only in obscurity, and to be known only of those who searched the Scriptures….
           – Pascal, Pensees, 757

They say I wear the scriptures on my sleeve –
Not true. I stitch and sew and scratch my soul
With them – the way that desert winds believe

The shifting sands will move and, on the whole,
That scrub and pine eventually break down.
They break down alright – and count the roll

Of boulders, mountains, and whatever crown
That Empire wears… These, lost on me now, hail
The high song of the wastelands: days that moan

The coming of another. Flies recall
The rhythm, locusts eat the melody
And honey adds the counterpoint. It’s all

The food I pick from barren fields. I see
It building up from wilderness; it comes
To search the slough and sift of enmity…

Remembering my mother’s cry, my dreams
Of distant visits haunt my head. So I search
The dunes of Palestine, obscured by time’s

Redundant landscape – even storm clouds lurch
With fits and starts that always promise rain –
The heavens’ pact with earth: You shall not parch

The grasses growing green upon the plain,
And I in turn will turn the sky to blue.

What thunder cries, a wilderness of pain,

That’s the work of God. I only call you.

08:12

Die Kollekten des Advent und ihre Übersetzungen - 3. Sonntag [Denzinger-Katholik]

Die feine Bloggerart ist es wohl nicht, statt Neues zu bieten nur Altes hervorzukramen ... da die Zeit aber flieht, möge man es mir nachsehen. Hier geht es zum Beitrag aus dem vergangenen Jahr.

Schott:

Wir bitten Dich, o Herr: schenke unsern Bitten Gehör und mache hell die Finsternisse unsres Geistes durch die Gnade Deines Kommens.
Bomm:
Neige Dein Ohr unseren Gebeten, so bitten wir, Herr, und erleuchte die Finsternisse unseres Geistes durch die Gnade Deiner Einkehr bei uns.
1965er Meßbuch:
Neige, Herr Jesus Christus, unserem Flehen dein Ohr; mit deiner Gnade suche uns heim und mache licht die Finsternis unseres Herzens.
Schenk:
Wir bitten Dich, Herr: Neige unseren Bitten Dein Ohr und erhelle die Finsternis unseres Geistes durch Deine gnadenvolle Einkehr!
Stephan:
Neige, o Herr, wir bitten dich, dein Ohr zum Auffangen unserer Bitten und bringe in die Finsternis, in der unser Geist sich befindet, Licht durch deinen gnädigen Besuch.
Ramm:
Dein Ohr, so bitten wir, Herr, neige zu unseren Bitten, und die Finsternis des Geistes erleuchte durch die Gnade Deiner Heimsuchung.
1975er Meßbuch:
Die Kollekte wurde aus dem Meßbuch gestrichen.*

*Eine sehr ähnliche, wenngleich nicht mehr an Christus gerichtete Kollekte findet sich aber am Montag nach dem Gaudete-Sonntag: Gütiger Gott, neige dein Ohr und erhöre unsere Bitten. Erleuchte die Finsternis unseres Herzens durch die Ankunft deines Sohnes. (1975er Meßbuch)
Die Übersetzer geben den Text wie gewöhnlich nur verstümmelt wieder. Wortgetreu übertragen hieße es: Neige, o Herr, wir bitten Dich, die Ohren Deiner Milde unserem Rufen zu, und unseres Herzens Finsternisse erleuchte durch die Gnade Deines bei uns einkehrenden Sohnes. 

07:42

Gaudete [Sancrucensis]

The parish of Pfaffstätten has some wonderful vestments. For the Saturday evening Mass in anticipation of Gaudete Sunday I wore this rose chasuble:

IMG_0377 IMG_0378 IMG_0408

03:26

The 'Song of the Sibyl' at Matins... [marcpuck]

Of the third Sunday of Advent in the S. office, the third lesson of the second nocturn; how interesting. [Post completorium. Well, it is interesting indeed; but it is the fourth Sunday where the Sibylline Song is found, not the third. Mea culpa.] Evidently it incorporates phrases from the authentic St Augustine's Civitas Dei (a printed S. office book indicates that St Augustine is the author), or, anyway, some version of it does: there's at least a Catalan one, a Galician-Portuguese one, a Provençal one &c.  Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras (requiescat in pace) recorded an album titled El Cant de la Sibil.la in 2011. Fascinating. Am being puzzled by some of the Latin, and I could see the night slipping away but Compline comes soon enough, and the Night Office not so long after.... 

A page at Fisheaters; the 'Song of the Sibyl' page at Wikipedia. Haven't gotten to the Spanish, French, Catalan Wikis. 

Let's see how exhaustive our friend YouTube really is... how very wonderful!-- the entire CD is there, Latin, Provençal, Catalana. 



And there is a video of the performance in the Cathedral at Mallorca last year:




And the sung rite celebrated in church (although quite which one of the versions is heard here, am not sure) at l'Alguer:



This recording is from 1998 at Montserrat, with a boy singing the Sibyl's part: 


01:01

St Lucy's Eve Supper [Edinburgh Housewife]

Crisps (Tesco)
Cava

****
Barszcz Czerwony (clear red borscht) with
Uszki ("little ears" mushroom dumplings, Sugared Orange) &
Cava

Garlic & Goat's Cheese Tart (Plenty, Ottolenghi) with
Boiled Potatoes and
Fennel Salad &
Merlot

Chocolate Gingerbread (Sugared Orange) with]
Sweetened Whipped Cream with Orange juice &
Elderflower champagne (2015)

Chocolate eyeballs & Coffee

***
Whisky


01:00

DOMINICA TERTIA ADVENTUS [BRUNONIS]

Normal 0 21 false false false DE X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 INTROITUS.          

Phil 4,4-6
- Audéte in Dómino semper: íterum dico, Gaudéte:
modéstia vestra nota sit ómnibus homínibus.
Dóminus prope est: nihil sollíciti sitis:
sed in omni oratióne petitiónes vestræ innotéscant apud Deum.
Ps 84,2: Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam:
avertísti captivitátem Iacob.
Glória Patri, et Fílio. Gaudéte in Dómino.

Kýrie, eléison.
Non dicitur Glória in excélsis.

COLLECTA.           
Orémus.
Excita, Dómine, corda nostra ad præparándas Unigéniti tui vías /
ut per eius advéntum purificátis tibi méntibus servíre mereámur :
Qui tecum.

LECTIO.      
Phil 4,4-7
Dominus prope est.
Léctio Epístolæ beáti Pauli apóstoli ad Philippénses.
Fratres: Gaudéte in Dómino semper; íterum dico: gaudéte! Modéstia vestra nota sit ómnibus homínihus. Dóminus prope. Nihil sollíciti sitis, sed in ómnibus oratióne et obsecratióne cum gratiárum actióne petitiónes vestræ innotéscant apud Deum.
Et pax Dei quæ exsúperat omnem sensum custódiet corda vestra et intellegéntias vestras in Christo Iesu.

RESPONSORIUM.           
Cf. Ps 79,2-3
Qui sedes, Dómine, super Chérubim, éxcita poténtiam tuam, et veni.
Qui regis Israel, inténde: qui dedúcis velut ovem Ioseph.

ALLELUIA. 
Ps 79,3b
Allelúia, y.
Excita, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni: ut salvos fácias nos. Allelúia.

EVANGELIUM.     
Io 1,6-8.19-28
Medius vestrum stat, quem vos non scitis.
Léctio sancti Evangélii secúndum Ioannem.
Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Ioannes: hic venit in testimónium, ut testimónium perhibéret de lúmine, ut omnes créderent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimónium perhibéret de lúmine.
Et hoc est testimónium Ioannis, quando misérunt ad eum ludaéi ab Hierosólymis sacerdótes et Levítas ut interrogárent eum: “Tu quis es? ” Et conféssus est, et non negávit; et conféssus est: “Non sum ego Christus”.
Et interrogavérunt eum: “Quid ergo? Elías es tu? ”
Et dicit: “Non sum”.
“Prophéta es tu? ”
Et respóndit: “Non”.
Dixérunt ergo ei: “Quis es? Ut respónsum demus his, qui misérunt nos; quid dicis de te ipso?
Ait: “Ego vox clamántis in desérto: Dirígite viam Dómini, sicut dixit Isaías prophéta”.
Et qui missi fúerant, erant ex Pharisaéis. Et interrogavérunt eum, et dixérunt ei: “Quid ergo baptízas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elías, neque Prophéta? ”.
Respóndit eis Ioannes dicens: “Ego baptízo in aqua; médius vestrum stat, quem vos non scitis, qui post me ventúrus est, cuius ego non sum dignus ut solvam eius corrígiam calceaménti”.
Hæc in Bethánia facta sunt trans Iordanem, ubi erat Ioannes baptízans.

Credo in unum Deum.
SUPER OBLATA.
Devotiónis nostræ tibi, quaésumus, Dómine, hóstia iúgitér immolétur :
quæ et sacri péragat institúta mysterii /
et salutáre tuum in nobis mirabílitér operétur :
Per Christum.

COMMUNIO.        
Is 35,4a.c
Dícite pusillánimis: Confortámini, et nolíte timére:
ecce Deus noster véniet, et salvábit nos.

POST COMMUNIONEM.          
Orémus.
Omnípotens Deus, qui nos praécipis iter Christo Dómino præparáre :
concéde propítius, ut nullis infirmitátibus fatigémur /
qui cæléstis médici consolántem præséntiam sustinémus :
Per Dóminum.


Monsignor Charles Pope's 'dangerous post'... [marcpuck]

I noticed this at the National Catholic Register today; from the 6th of this month, I presume it appeared at his blog first. I see the posts' titles in the feed reader but often, alas, don't get around to reading everything. 

Mons Pope's voice is quite straightforward, even though he has to take trouble not to be misunderstood as 'blaming the victims' or 'excusing the terrorists' (with my Italics and bolding): 'God is permitting increased violence, and not restraining it, as a kind of chastisement on the increasingly secular West for our unbelief'. Plainly and simply. 
... We have become, collectively, unmindful of God. We have pushed him to the peripheries. Secularism is rampant; church attendance is at an all-time low. And even for those who do believe, there is a widespread tendency among many to engage in a kind of false religion which features a designer god, a god of their own making and understanding, who just happens to agree with them on everything. The Scriptures call this idolatry. Those who worship the God who reveals himself in Scripture are fewer and fewer. So we are an unbelieving and increasingly unfaithful nation.
And we are perverse. Indeed almost every kind of perversity is on display and worse yet is approved and even celebrated by many. We have aborted more than 50 million of our children. Promiscuity is rampant, as is cohabitation, divorce, and the outright celebration of homosexual acts by many. Whereas such things used to cause shock and shame, today they are openly approved and made the stuff of entertainment. A recent television show featured a woman getting an abortion with the song “Silent Night” playing. This is not only perverse; it is blasphemous....
This is the preaching that will serve as antidote to the palliative nonsense one so often hears from clerics and prelates; this is the solid food that we need to sustain us, not admonitions to use less electricity, or welcome manifest sinners to Holy Communion. Perhaps Mons Pope will be his Eminence's successor in the archiepiscopal See of Washington.


*§*§*§*

There are several settings of the Litaniae de Beata Virgine (by Mozart and Monteverdi, e.g.) but this is Victoria's (although it is preceded by another piece the name of which I didn't take care to note when I selected the video):


00:00

Rejoice, the Lord is near [Καθολικός διάκονος]

Reading: Zeph 3:14-18a; Isa 12:2-6; Phil 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18

This week the Church observes the Third Sunday of Advent, or, Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for "rejoice." While the introit for Sunday Mass is not sung or even recited in most parishes, the name "Gaudete Sunday" is taken from the first word of today's introit: Gaudete: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near." Perhaps more recognizably, this is the Sunday of Advent we light the rose, or pink, candle.

Today's introit is taken from the passage that the Church chose to be the New Testament epistle reading for the Third Sunday of Advent in Year B: Philippians 4:4-7. In this reading St Paul delivers a prescription for anxiety: "Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

One who is possessed of a heart and mind guarded by Christ Jesus is one who heeds what St John the Baptist bids be done when he was asked by his hearers, "What should we do?" The essence of the Baptist's answer is, "Don't be greedy, or stingy." Summed up even more concisely, "Act justly and mercifully." He then proceeds to dispel any thoughts that he was the Messiah. Nonetheless, he continued to preach the good news, the evangelion, the Gospel. Only recipients of this good news can truly rejoice.

Our reading from the book of the prophet Zephaniah also tells us why we should rejoice: "Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies" (Zeph 3:14b-15a). This is why knowing the Lord is the remedy for anxiety, stress, worry, fear, etc. It is helpful to keep in mind that Zephaniah, a contemporary of the the prophet Jeremiah, wrote in the midst of a Jerusalem in the thrall of idol of worship and moving rapidly towards being destroyed, Paul wrote the Philippians while he was a prisoner in chains, and John the Baptist proclaimed his message in a Judea occupied by the Romans. It was from the darkness that each of these men sought to lead others to the Light. As Christians we rejoice because in Christ we are already victorious, no matter what circumstances we may be facing.



Rather than being a Psalm, our responsorial for this Sunday is taken from Isaiah. Our response from Isaiah strikes a harmonious chord with this Sunday's theme of rejoicing in what God has done for us in Christ: "Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth. Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!"

On this Third Sunday of Advent, when the season makes a pivot, changes in character from a focus on penance in light of the Lord's return to usher in the end of time, to a recognition that Lord is not only near, but by His Nativity, which made possible His passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending the Holy Spirit, He is already here in our midst. This is why we're frequently exhorted to live the tension between the already and the not-yet. We call living this tension, this mystery, which unfolds only through experience, only through our lives, made up as they are of the circumstances we face each day, faith. So today let's rejoice that we have faith in Him who is, who was, and who is to come. Let's not waste time, but redeem it, using it to live our faith, which is a precious gift. Without faith there is no hope. Without hope there is no charity. Hope is the flower of faith and charity is its fruit.

Let's not forget the Baptist's exhortation by remembering that there are three divinely given spiritual disciplines that correspond to the three theological virtues (i.e., faith, hope, and love): prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. While what the Baptist exhorts us to do in our Gospel focuses on alms-giving, he does not do so to the exclusion of prayer and fasting. By God's grace, let's persist as we resolve to run forth to meet Christ.

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