Sunday, December 10, 2006

Advent. Prepare the way of the Lord.

Friday and yesterday, I had the incredible gift to be able to listen to Rosalind Moss,Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, and Jesse Romero at the Family of God conference that closed out the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Centennial Celebration.

I am very grateful to the speakers for coming, to Fr. Henry Carmona for his support, and to all the parish members who helped put this event together.

I had never heard Jesse Romero speak before, and he spoke of “the world needs a heart transplant;” “be a heart donor,” “give your heart to Jesus.” And Rosalind Moss, whom it seems so clear to me speaks from a heart united in love to Love Himself, the Living God, into whose hands it is a terrible thing to fall, and yet who gives Himself to us through His Son, and comes to us through His body the Church, to unite us to Him, that we who are sinners could be conformed to the image of His Son, because He loved us first. And Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers; the nuts and bolts of assembling a Christian life! Oh, build with gold and silver, not hay and stubble; and certainly not with mud! RTM! (Read The Manual!).

Last week at work, I was overcome by a pressing need, and had to write; here is what I found in my notebook as I was listening to Jesse speak:

Father grant my heart repose in Thee,
That my will conformed to Thine,
In Thy Son Jesus be set free,
By the Spirit now in time,
And for all eternity.

The desire of every heart; He was awaited; He came; He is with us; He will come again. Without Him, no possession can provide that which our heart desires; in Him we possess all things, as all things are held in being by Him, and have been pronounced good.

And preparing we prepare, yet to bring Christ to a waiting world, in all places and in manifold and different circumstances not expected. With a parishioner who was not at the conference and should have been, a most interesting discussion before even leaving the parish; a discussion in which I could hear the echo, in Rosalind’s Brooklyn accent, saying “Shame on him” in reference to Rabbi Fink’s support of abortion. I woke up this morning and my prayer for people like this is to give your whole heart and mind to Jesus.

For the mind, consider that all addictions, be they kleptomania, alcoholism, smoking, drugs, sex, pornography, are more than merely physiological, more than genetic determinism; all these play a part. They are primarily disorders in the moral order, disorders of a will no longer capable of saying no to a particular evil. Disease, yes indeed, but disease of body and soul. So to tell someone living this sort of life, that you accept them for who they are, and would leave them there, is to tell them a lie; it is not what they are, but what they do, and to fail to love them, for one has done nothing to help them. Oh, there may be sentimental support, but that it not the Love that we have a vocation to live, that it the world’s love. Thus to believe that we should do all we can to help people stop destructive behavior, such as smoking, alcoholism, drugs, and all the others, but to exclude those who are ensnared in the moral morass which St. Catherine tells us even the demons will not look upon, is one of two things; it is either the height of hypocrisy, or a person who has lost the sense of sin, for the gravity of this offense against God and self.

The prodigal son, when he came to his senses, got up from the pig pen and returned to his Father, who ran to meet him, with joy at the return of his son who had been lost. There is a school which seems intent on keeping the prodigal in the pig pen, because they are unaware of the nature of the Love of the Father, condemning these sons to extended suffering by their interdiction; even intercepting them on the road and sending them back to the pig pen.

It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first believed. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Rm 13:11-12

Prepare the way of the Lord. It is a road from Jericho to Jerusalem; from the world, to heaven, and it is a two way street. Jesus said we need to set the desire of our hearts on heaven, for if we set them on the world, we will achieve nothing, but on heaven, ah! He will give us heaven and the world besides! And what is the way to heaven, this road from the Jericho to Jerusalem? This way has a name, the only name under heaven by which man can be saved, His name is Jesus, and He is the Way. Let us set out anew, and sing on the Way,

Salve Regina, Mater miserecordia…

Because when we (as Dominicans) sing the Salve Regina, here is what our Lady in Heaven revealed to St. Dominic in a vision:

From Henri Lacordaire’s Life of St. Dominic

“One evening, Dominic was praying in the church until midnight, at which hour he entered the corridor where the Friars were asleep in their cells. Having finished his business, he resumed his prayers at the end of the corridor where the Friars were asleep in their cells. Having finished his business, he resumed his prayers at the end of the corridor, when chancing to turn his eyes to the other end, he beheld three women approaching, the center on being the most beautiful and venerable. One of her companions carried a magnificent vase, and the other an aspersorium, which she presented to her mistress, who sprinkled and blessed all the Friars save one. Dominic, after noting who the Friar was, advanced to meet the woman, who had already reached the middle of the corridor, near the lamp suspended in that spot. He prostrated himself at her feet, and although he had recognized her, entreated her to tell him her name. At that same time, the beautiful and devotional anthem of the Salve Regina was not yet sung in the monastery and nunnery of the Order in Rome, but only recited, kneeling, after Compline. The woman replied, ‘I am she whom you invoke every eve, and when you say, Eia ergo, advocata nostra, I prostrate myself before my Son, entreating Him to protect this Order.’ The blessed Dominic then asked who her two companions were, on which the Blessed Virgin said, ‘One is Cecilia, and the other Catherine.’ The blessed Dominic then inquired the reason for her omitting to bless one of the Friars, and she replied, ‘Because he was not in a becoming posture.’ Then having finished her round, and sprinkled and blessed the Friars, she disappeared. The blessed Dominic returned to the spot where he had been praying, and hardly had he recommenced his devotions when he was raised in spirit to the presence of God. He beheld the Lord, having at his right hand the Blessed Virgin, who seemed to Dominic to be robed in a sapphire-colored mantle. Looking around and discerning Religious of every Order but his own, he began to weep bitterly, not daring to approach our Lord or his Blessed Mother. Our Lady motioned him to draw near, but he dared not comply until encouraged by our Lord. Then he approached and prostrated himself weeping bitterly. The Lord said, ‘Why weepest thou so bitterly?’ and he replied, ‘Because I see members of every Order but my own.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Dost thou wish to see thy Order?’ He tremblingly replied, ‘Yes, Lord;’ and the Lord rested His hand on the shoulder of the Blessed Virgin, saying to Dominic, ‘I have confided thy Order to my mother.’ Then He added, ‘Wilt thou indeed see thy Order?’ to which Dominic replied, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then the Blessed Virgin unfolding her mantle in Dominic’s sight, so that it covered the whole of the celestial abode, he beheld beneath it a multitude of his children. The blessed Father prostrated himself to render thanks to God and to our Lady, and the vision disappeared. As he recovered consciousness, the bell was ringing for Matins, and when they were ended, he convoked a chapter of his Friars, and discoursed to them on the love and veneration they ought to have to the Blessed Virgin, and among other things he related this vision. At the close of the chapter, he privately took aside the brother whom Our Lady had not blessed, and gently asked him if he had not kept back something in the general confession he had made. He replied, ‘Holy Father, my conscience accuses me of nothing, save that last night, when I awoke, I found I had been sleeping with no garments on.’ At Saint-Sixtus the blessed Dominic related his vision to Sister Cecilia and the others, as if it had been beheld by another person, but the Friars present made a sign to the sisters that it was Dominic who had seen it. It was on this occasion that the blessed Dominic enjoined that, wherever they slept, the Friars should wear their girdle and their sandals.”[3]

[3] Sister Cecilia’s Narrative, n. 7.

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