Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Blog-fest 2013 -- Let Us Go Rejoicing to the House of the Lord

Hello, Coffee Talkers!

In a last-minute decision, in literally the final hours of the first day of Advent 2013, I have decided to dust off the ol' Catholic blog and post something for each day of Advent. I think I even added a new 'follow via Google +' feature, but I'm not sure yet because my theology's better than my technology, if you know what I'm saying. In any case, thanks so much for joining me for this Advent journey!

Advent is a special season of preparation, and while the most obvious preparation is for the celebration of Jesus' birth (a.k.a. Christmas!), there are two other oft neglected but equally important aspects of our Advent preparations. In addition to remembering the Incarnation when Jesus came to earth a couple millenia ago, we are also preparing to welcome Him into our hearts and homes now, and we prepare to welcome Him in His second coming at the end of time. This three-fold nature of celebration and participation in the sacraments and liturgical actions and seasons is one of my very favorite parts about being Catholic -- we are always mindful of what God did, what God is doing, and what God will do, and we join with the whole communion of saints throughout time as we connect with Creator and a community that still exists outside of past, present, and future.

Saint Thomas Aquinas captures this so beautifully in his Eucharistic prayer:

O Sacred Banquet
in which Christ is received
the memory of His Passion is recalled
the soul is filled with grace
and the pledge of future glory is given to us

Those who attended Mass last Sunday and this may have noticed that we sang the same responsorial psalm -- "let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord." We sang this psalm on the last Sunday of the past liturgical year (last week), and again on the first Sunday of the new liturgical year (today), and I have reflected on two important reasons for this repetition. First, all things should begin and end by rejoicing in the house of the Lord -- in life (baptism) and death (funeral Mass), in Christ's dying (Good Friday) and His rising (Easter Sunday), in the midst of our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows, we come together to rejoice in the house of the Lord.

The next reason just hit me today, and it may be even more important than the last -- there are some who, for many varied reasons, are no longer 'rejoicing to the house of the Lord,' and when we sing this psalm we are being called to invite them back. People always joke about Christmas and Easter Only (or CEO) Catholics, those who attend Mass only on those two days of the year, but the sad truth is that many of those people do not feel welcomed or invited to be a regular part of the community throughout the rest of the year. So if you are reading this and have fallen away from regular practice of your faith, please take this as your initial invitation to come back, to be welcomed home, and to let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord, because the rejoicing can only be full when all of the family is present.

Lastly, I have 2 more entirely unrelated topics to share with you (well, I could relate them somehow, I'm sure...):

1. My friends from graduate school, the Garlands, have just been blessed by the birth of their 5th beautiful child, Lillian Faustina Maria, who is a week old and in need of many prayers for healing. Those who wish to follow her progress as you pray can find their blog here.

2. What better time than those potentially hectic pre-Christmas days to carve out some time not only for prayer, but also for better budget planning so that you can have more peace in your life and perhaps even give more generously? I've been budgeting for a while, but was looking for an inexpensive tool that could be used on a computer and an iPod, and a friend just posted about a sale for YNAB (or You Need a Budget -- haha) so I've decided to try it out. The 50% off sale made it only $30, and guess what? I just got a link that you can use to get another $6 off! No joke! But I think the sale price only lasts through tomorrow, so snatch it up while it's cheap if you want to be a better steward of your financial resources. Click here for the link for  $6 off!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and be assured of my prayers.

Peace and all good,

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