Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Faith Seeking Understanding for November 27, 2005

I hope that you had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving this past week. Although I can hardly believe it, Advent has arrived and a new liturgical year has begun. The purple vestments and the absence of the Gloria remind us of the hopeful anticipation with which we await the birth of our Savior. Dom Gueranger, in the Advent volume of The Liturgical Year, tells us that from the fifth century a period of penance and fasting began on the feast of St. Martin of Tours (November 11) to prepare for Christmas. This was in some sense a “mini-Lent,” lasting forty days; gradually, the season was reduced to four weeks, and the strict penances curtailed. Nevertheless, the penitential character of Advent remained, with the purpose of properly preparing the entire Church to celebrate the great feast of the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Currently, the Church does not require fasting or abstinence as we observe Advent in preparation for Christmas; nevertheless, fostering a penitential spirit during this season is appropriate. Why? Because in our longing for the coming of Christ, we recall the reason for His coming: salvation from our sins. By making the most of the first four weeks of our new Liturgical Year, we can truly repent of sin and purify our hearts to welcome our newborn Savior with proper joy. Since much of our culture begins the celebration of Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, it is important that we remember the longing of the entire world, ever since Adam and Eve, for the coming of Christ. These four weeks of preparation are essential to a proper celebration when Christmas finally arrives.

Since Christ has, in fact, already come into the world, what is the mystery that Advent seeks to teach? St. Bernard of Clairvaux reminds us of the three comings of Christ in his fifth Advent sermon: “In the first coming, He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.” St. Peter of Blois helps us understand these profound words of St. Bernard: “There are three comings of our Lord; the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at the judgment.” The first coming is passed; we are now in the midst of His second coming, growing in our love of God by our faith and in the power of the Spirit. We await His third and final coming. St. Peter continues: “The first coming was humble and hidden, the second is mysterious and full of love, the third will be majestic and terrible. …In His first coming, Christ was judged by men unjustly; in His second, He renders us just by His grace; in His third, He will judge all things with justice. In His first, a lamb; in His last, a lion; in the one between the two, the tenderest of friends.”

We also celebrate the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle this week, on November 30. St. Andrew was St. Peter’s brother, who brought Simon Peter to our Lord; they were both fishermen, and accompanied our Lord throughout His public life. St. Andrew preached the gospel in Asia Minor and Greece, although exact locations have never been proven. Tradition tells us that he was crucified on a cross in the shape of an X, known to this day as St. Andrew’s Cross; he was martyred during the reign of Nero (approximately 60 A.D.), at Patrae in Achaia (modern-day Greece). St. Andrew is the patron of Russia and Scotland. Apart from his patronage of fishermen (his original profession), there is also a great devotion to St. Andrew by women seeking husbands. He is also the patron of the Diocese of Grand Rapids. St. Andrew, pray for us!