December 12, 2021
Today, in Mercy, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, Advent’s joyful midway pause.
Advent was originally, like Lent, a time of fasting. Midway in the fast, the Church took a break from its rigors and rejoiced prematurely for the coming Christmas.
I remember going, as a grade schooler, with my mother to buy two candy bars on the Saturday before Gaudete (because most stores were closed on Sunday back then!) After Sunday Mass, we would hold a sort of “sweetness ceremony”, delighting in our choices. Mom’s was always a Milky Way. My choice ran with the fads, sticking for a few years on Rollos – remember them?
The Church has its own “sweet ceremony” on Gaudate Sunday. Pink vestments worn for the liturgy indicate joy, as do the uplifting readings.
In our first reading, Zephania tells us that “the Lord will rejoice over us with gladness!”
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!Zephania 3:14
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
In a reassuring blessing, Paul tells us, “Don’t worry. Be happy!”
Rejoice in the Lord always.Philippians 4: 4-7
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
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.
Even serious John the Baptist seems to tingle with expectation of the coming Savior. He’s just a little more taciturn in his proclamations.
John answered them all, saying,Luke 3: 16-17
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
In our terribly commercialized holiday world, let’s stop and remember the true cause of our hope and celebration.
What gives your heart real joy as we approach the holy celebration of Christmas?
What is the sacred delight you long for in your heart and soul?
Let’s make a deeper effort this week, which will require so much bustle of us, to settle our hearts on God – remembering that God’s sweet presence with us is what this whole season is about.
Poetry: The Flower by George Herbert
How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an hour;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
We say amiss
This or that is:
Thy word is all, if we could spell.
Oh that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither;
Nor doth my flower
Want a spring shower,
My sins and I joining together.
But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own,
Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone
Where all things burn,
When thou dost turn,
And the least frown of thine is shown?
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing. Oh, my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.
These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide;
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide;
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.
Music: Gaudete in Domino sung by the Schola of St. Meinrad Abbey (Latin and English lyrics below)
Gaudete in Domino semper
iterum dico gaudete.
Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus.
Dominus prope est.
Nihil solliciti sitis
sed in omni oratione et obsecratione
cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.
Et pax Dei quae exsuperat omnem sensum custodiat corda vestra et intellegentias vestras in Christo Iesu [Domino nostro].
Rejoice in the Lord always:
and again I say, rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men.
The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing;
but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus [our Lord].