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, December 11, 2005

Faith Seeking Understanding for December 11, 2005

The Third Sunday of Advent has long been known as Gaudete Sunday, owing to the first word of the Latin Introit (or Entrance Antiphon) for the Mass. Although we rarely hear the Introit any longer, it is still included at the beginning of the Mass in the Sacramentary. The Introit is usually a short verse from Scripture with a corresponding melody in Gregorian Chant. Today’s Introit is “Gaudete!” or “Rejoice!” – it comes from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” Rose-colored vestments are also allowed on this Sunday to remind us of the approaching joy of the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord.

St. Paul
often encouraged the Church to rejoice; yet, for him, rejoicing was always accompanied by prayer and giving thanks. Reflecting upon this mystery, we can see exactly why we rejoice in anticipation of the celebration of the birth of our Savior. For centuries and centuries, the entire world was in the darkness of sin. Even the Covenant with the Israelites was incapable of bringing salvation; as close as the Chosen People were to Yahweh, they still awaited the Messiah. Finally, in the “fullness of time,” the Messiah was announced to the Virgin; at His birth, angels announced to the shepherds of the wondrous Birth in Bethlehem; and as a young man, John the Baptist prepared His way in the wilderness. “The people in darkness have seen a great light” (Is. 9:2).

Today’s culture often mistakes the fleeting experience of “happiness” for the true, deep, and abiding truth of authentic joy. We rejoice at the knowledge of the Birth of Jesus Christ because His Birth transforms our lives; this is not a happiness gained by possessions, a good meal, or a pleasant vacation. The joy at the Birth of Jesus Christ can abide even in the midst of intense suffering. Joy, as St. Thomas tells us, is the effect of charity in our soul. Hence, even though we might experience setbacks, discouragement, and profound turmoil, as long as God dwells in our souls in charity, we can rejoice in the midst of trials. Seeking happiness, however, is bound to meet with failure.

Juan Diego, whose feast day is December 9th, understood the true meaning of Christian joy. Juan Diego was born in 1474 near Mexico City. As he walked nearly 15 miles to Mass on December 9, 1531, he saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Tepeyac Hill. Although Juan Diego was a native Mexican, a simple farmer and laborer, and a “nobody,” according to his own words, Mary appeared to him and asked him to have the bishop build a church on the site of the apparition. His bishop was skeptical of this vision of the Blessed Mother, and asked for “proof.” Juan Diego carried out this next task in humility and with great joy.

Juan Diego went by Tepeyac again on December 12, and again met the Blessed Virgin, who told him to climb the hill and pick the roses that would be flowering there. Although it was wintertime, he found the roses as Mary had said and gathered them for her. She placed the flowers in Juan Diego’s cloak, and instructed him to return to the bishop; when he opened his cloak for the bishop, the miraculous roses fell onto the desk. But then an even greater miracle occurred: in place of the roses remained the image of Mary’s apparition to Juan Diego. This image, known as our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast day we celebrate on December 12, has remained intact since that day – on fabric that should naturally have disintegrated after 30 years! It remains as an object of veneration at the Shrine in Mexico City.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us! St. Juan Diego, pray for us!