Thursday, December 2, 2010

First Thursday of Advent

Happy New Year!

he world is old, but the Church -- ever ancient and ever new -- is  young.

No mortal ever looks forward to old age with joy or jubilation.  He may look forward to a day of accomplishment when he will be able to say, "I have finished,"  or to some long-cherished hope fulfilled.  But no one of us can honestly say we celebrate our birthday with joy and exultation because we are older by a year.  What, then, does age give us to occasion joy?  Does it not bring us closer to the portal of death?  Does it not separate us each year farther from the period of our youth?  True, all true -- but age brings us also closer to God.  Our bodies grow old, but our intellect and will, faculties of the soul, become keener and more disciplined, thanks to the great faith that we have inherited and for which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died, so that we might be children of God and heirs of heaven.

Thus, Advent is the dawn of a liturgically new year.  We grow older in age, but, please God, closer to our ambition and goal -- a good life, a greater devotion to duty and to our neighbor, and an assurance of eternal life.

The world grows old, but the Church is ever young.  Hence it is that though our bodies grow old and feeble, our souls, spurred on with the promise of immortality on the part of One who is faithful to His promises, grow not feeble in hope but advance in wisdom and grace before God and men.  Our wills, disciplined by prayer which makes them one with the divine will, and by sacrifice which curbs our lower nature, makes us more like unto Christ who came that we might have life in abundance.

Every new ecclesiastical year of the Advent season has meaning for the Catholic heart.  The new year reminds us to reflect upon the old, not for the sake of regrets, but for the purpose of greater progress for the future.  Each penitential season of Advent renews hope in the Christian heart and a promise that the Redeemer is near.

The new year can be a year of hope and Christian living or it can be one in which deeds are prompted not by the higher, moral law, but by the laws of the jungle.  Our task and resolution for Advent is to prepare for the possibilities ahead, for a better Christian life.  Every man and woman, born of Adam, is heir to all the faults of the human race.  "The corruption of the best is the worst,"  the old adage says.  The saints' accomplishment of reaching the heights is chiefly attributable to the fact that they were conscious of their human frailty and relied upon the strength of God's grace.

Prayer and the Christian life of sacrifice modeled after Christ and Mary will be the tool with which we may each day of the new year work away until we have formed in our souls the image and likeness of a real Catholic.  We have ideals.  We have memories.  We have a good mother, a kindly father, noble brothers and sisters.  We have gone ahead with the years, nourished by the life of the Church's sacraments.  The world may have tarnished our hopes, our aspirations, but it cannot destroy our faith!  We move on with the Church and with the assurance that age cannot destroy, but can only give fulfillment to our life with God.


Blessed Saviour of men, help us to count our years in terms of acts of service for Your and for our fellow man, worthy of the reward of eternal life.  Were we a thousand times thankful, still would we be unworthy servants.  With Your grace, we resolve to watch and pray the new year that peace and justice may return to mankind.

[1] And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. [2] This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. [3] And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. [4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, [5] To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. (Lk. 2:1-5)