THIRD (GAUDETE) SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Luke, Chapter 1, verse 10-12:
10 Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, 11the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. 12Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
Zechariah was troubled and he was afraid. I do not think this was Holy fear for Zechariah’s faith did not equal his fear and he was filled with unbelief. His intellect outweighed his heart and as a result he was left unable to speak until the birth of his son as the angel told him. That son was John the Baptist. There are times when we must listen to our hearts and not our heads.
Gaudete Sunday is a time to listen to our hearts!
A joyful warning comes from the Lord's heralds. "Rejoice: the Lord is nigh." As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing nigh when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom. The oft-repeated Veni ("Come") of Advent is an echo not only of the prophets but also of the conclusion of the Apocalypse of St. John: "Come, Lord Jesus," the last words of the New Testament. Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, "Rejoice". Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.
Today also marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy in preparation of Christ.
The "Octave" Before Christmas and/or the Golden Nights
With each new Sunday heightening our sense of anticipation and with every Advent custom doing the same, it is little wonder that the eight days before Christmas became a semi-official octave of impatient expectation. This is expressed liturgically in the Divine Office's special magnificat antiphons for this period. Beginning on the evening of December 17 during Vespers, a "Greater" or "O" antiphon (so named for its opening vocative) is said which explicitly invokes the Son of God under various titles and begs Him to come. The Gregorian chant for these antiphons is exquisite, as are the antiphons themselves, which call attention to the Word's different manifestations to man in the Old Testament and to several of His divine attributes. The antiphons are also noteworthy for their "code." The titles for Christ from each antiphon form an acrostic which, when read backwards, spells, "ERO CRAS" -- "I will be [there] tomorrow!" It is as if Christ were answering our prayers through the prayers themselves. Finally, the Greater antiphons are the inspiration of the beautiful medieval hymn, Veni, Veni Emmanuel. Each stanza of this famous song is a poetic rendering of an antiphon, which is why the hymn is traditionally sung only during the eight days prior to Christmas. In many places, however, the octave of preparation was extended over nine days, making a Novena. By special permission, the "Golden Mass" of Ember Wednesday was sometimes offered in the pre-dawn hours for nine consecutive days prior to Christmas. Central Europe observed the "Golden Nights," a festive season honoring the Blessed Virgin, the expectant Mother of God; in fact, December 18 was once the Feast of the Expectancy in Spain. In the Alps, schoolchildren observed the custom of Josephstragen -- "carrying St. Joseph." Each night, a group of boys would carry a statue of St. Joseph to another boy's home. The night after the visit, the boy who had been visited would join the procession, making the number of carriers grow progressively larger. On Christmas Eve all the boys, accompanied by schoolgirls dressed in white, would process the statue through the town to the church, where it would be placed near the manger. In Latin America, on the other hand, a Novena to the Holy Child (La Novena del Niño) was held in which prayers would be said and lively carols sung in front of the church's empty manger.
Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly, Come, and teach us the way of prudence.
Just discovered this better late than never
A special devotion that can be performed during Advent to prepare for the coming of the Infant Savior. It can be adapted for adults and/or children and applied as is appropriate to your state in life.
· 1st day, December 11th: THE STONES—Pure Intention By pure intention today, we will bring together the materials for the stable. The Wagon to carry the stones shall be the pure intention, the Horses the great fervor in the service of God, and the stones we collect by making 100 aspirations to the most Sacred Heart of our dear Redeemer.
· 2nd Day, December 12th: THE FOUNDATION—Humility We lay the foundation of our little Stable by practicing the virtue of humility. Therefore we may not excuse ourselves, either good or evil; make frequent acts of humility and perform at least one humble task. Clean the toilets
· 3rd day, December 13th: THE WALLS—Charity Today we must erect the Walls of our little stable by showing great love and kindness towards others, in spite of our feelings for them. Always to excuse their faults, and if that is not possible, at least the intention. Take no offence at anything and show great kindness to such as put your patience to the test. Pray much for the Poor Souls and for poor sinners. Visit the tabernacle.
· 4th day, December 14th: THE ROOF—Self-denial Today we must practice self-denial in everything great or small. We must therefore do the very things from which nature shrinks, and if opportunity permits, abstain from some amusement in whatever way it presents itself. No TV today
· 5th day, December 15th: THE STRAW—Mortification Today the infant Jesus desires mortification from us; therefore let us watch for opportunities with a joyful heart. Not look about when we are walking; not lean back when sitting; not warm ourselves when cold; not satisfy the taste at table; when tempted to impatience not to show it, and yield our own opinion to that of others. Today really listen to others
· 6th day, December 16th. THE HAY—Meekness Prepare a soft little bed of Hay for the Divine Infant by practicing this beautiful virtue. Do not yield to anger today; and speak very kindly to such as are repulsive to you. When tempted to speak harshly, say this little prayer instead. O Jesus meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
· 7th day, December 17th THE CRIB—Confidence Build the little Crib by an unbounded confidence in God. Give not way to sadness in adversity. Also think not too much of our past sins and faults, making many acts of hope in God's mercy instead. Reflect a little each hour on the great love of God, who becomes Man for us.
· 8th day, December 18th THE MULE—Patience To practice this virtue, we must complain of no one or nothing. No shade of impatience should be seen on our countenance, nor an impatient word heard. Be brave. The Infant Jesus suffered much more for you.
· 9th day, December 19th: THE OX—Silence Today we may speak nothing unnecessary, much less give way to distracting thoughts. On the contrary, hold interior converse with God by loving aspirations to Him.
· 10th day, December 20th: THE SHEPHERDS—Works of Mercy These are so pleasing to our Lord, and we must therefore practice them corporally as well as spiritually. Pray much for poor sinners and for God's dear missionaries who are trying to convert them.
· 11th day, December 21st: THE HOLY ANGELS—Attention to Inward Inspirations Have special regard for them today. Perhaps our dear Lord demands a little sacrifice, an extra prayer, an act of some virtue, an acknowledgment of your love for Him. Be watchful and faithful.
· 12th day, December 22nd: ST. JOSEPH—Obedience Today you must try to please the Divine Infant by cheerful, and very prompt obedience. Be obedient for the love of Jesus in great and little things or in easy ones. Do nothing without permission.
· 13th day, December 23rd: THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY—Chastity Pray much today for the virtue of holy purity. Guard your eyes, ears, tongue, and. heart. Pray fervently: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
· 14th day, December 24th: THE SWADDLING CLOTHES—Inward Recollection All your thoughts today, all your wishes, your aspirations, your love and your joy, must be for the dear Infant Jesus, who in a few hours condescends to be born in your heart.
Activity Source: Prayers from Various Holy Cards
49 Godly Character Traits
During this Advent season let us take up the nature of God by reflecting on these traits that make us a model for our children and our sisters and brothers in Christ. Today reflect on:
Forgiveness vs. Rejection
Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)
1462 Forgiveness of sins brings reconciliation with God, but also with the Church. Since ancient times the bishop, visible head of a particular Church, has thus rightfully been considered to be the one who principally has the power and ministry of reconciliation: he is the moderator of the penitential discipline. Priests, his collaborators, exercise it to the extent that they have received the commission either from their bishop (or religious superior) or the Pope, according to the law of the Church.
2151 Rejection of false oaths is a duty toward God. As Creator and Lord, God is the norm of all truth. Human speech is either in accord with or in opposition to God who is Truth itself. When it is truthful and legitimate, an oath highlights the relationship of human speech with God's truth. A false oath calls on God to be witness to a lie.
2844 Christian prayer extends to the forgiveness of enemies, transfiguring the disciple by configuring him to his Master. Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God's compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus. Forgiveness is the fundamental condition of the reconciliation of the children of God with their Father and of men with one another.
· Please pray for me and this ministry