"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Sunday 2 December 2012


During the season of Advent, the Church proposes for our attention four truths which are general enough and profound enough to shape our whole spiritual life.  

 The first is that, whoever we are, whatever our vocation,   whether our life is happy or sad, fulfilled or frustrated, useful or a waste of time, interesting or boring,   in harmony with God or sinful, it is destined to change; and what we consider normal now will, one day, become a thing of the past.   This is true at every level of life and for everybody, and is even true of the whole creation in which we live. All will eventually end, because God so wills it.   God is not in favour of every change, but his Providence is at work in every change.

   The second Advent truth is that Christ is present in every change, even if the change has been brought about against his will, and, at the end of every change, Christ will manifest himself to each and every one of us in a new way, taking into account what has happened, if we allow him.   This will go on happening until  his Second Coming in which the whole of creation will be transformed into a new heaven and a new earth, and his presence will be manifested in a new and definitive way.

 This Sunday we celebrate the presence among us of the Risen Christ, as we do every Sunday; but, because it is Advent, at the same time, we are warned not to be satisfied with the level of our Christian life, our own holiness or our degree of commitment, nor closed to Christ's challenges when they involve us in change.   While we are alive, we can be confident that Christ has much more for each of us, and that he wants to make us capable of receiving what he has to offer. He would prefer our firmament should cave in, our whole world collapse rather than allow us to sink into a mire of complacency that would make us impervious to his grace. The Church has given us Advent as an antidote to complacency.  To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often, as Blessed John Henry Newman said, and Christ wishes to accompany us; and, round every corner, after every change, Christ is ready to meet us, to offer us something new.

The third Advent truth is that   when we meet Christ, we never meet him alone.   Christ is in heaven and does not leave it when he comes to meet us.   Where Christ is, there are Our Lady, the angels and saints.   Whether in the Mass where we meet him as a Church, or in our hearts when we meet him in prayer, or when we recognize him as present in every situation, heaven and earth become one.   

We talk about Christ coming to us; but the early Church talked about our ascending into heaven, even as we remain physically on earth.   This is the theme of the Letter to the Hebrews and of the Apocalypse.   It is a further paradox that, the more we are united to Christ who is in heaven, the more heaven is present on earth through us.

Is it not strange that, in the early Church, when the Liturgy was at its most communal, when there was so much emphasis on the Church as the body of Christ, that Christians should have gone into the desert to become hermits?   Was it a flight into non- Christian individualism?   It may have been for some; but the classical Christian hermit was anything but an individualist.   What united him or her to the Christian community was that both he or she and the community believed they were citizens of heaven before they were citizen of this world, precisely because they were members of Christ's risen body.  The monk believed that, because of his own weakness, he could not really become what baptism had made him, a citizen of heaven, without entering a monastery or going into the desert.   Did you know that the word "cell", used for a monk's room, was believed to have the same root as "coelum" because, just as the Christian community was raised in the Eucharist to share in the liturgy of heaven, so the monk in his cell was raised up to heaven in his prayer, and his solitude was filled with Our Lady, the angels and saints who prayed with him, and even with all those on earth who are united to Christ in his risen body.  No space on earth was more populated than a hermit's cell when the monk was at solitary prayer! Moreover, people went to visit hermits and monasteries because they believed that, through the monks life of sacrifice and prayer, sacred spaces are formed where heaven and earth are united.

The fourth Advent truth is that heaven changed radically when Jesus, having died and risen again, ascended into his Father's presence.   The Incarnation had brought about a new relationship between God and his creation.  When this relationship was perfected by Christ's obedience unto death and became the central reality in heaven by means of Christ's ascension, heaven became the new reality into which the whole human race and the whole of creation were destined to be transformed.   It became the ultimate destiny of all that is.   Jesus said that this generation will not pass until all these things shall happen; and in a certain and real sense this is exactly what took place when Christ ascended into heaven.  For this reason, the early Christians never changed the texts in which Christ foretold the end of the world.   We are in the last days, not, as the Jehovah Witnesses believe, because some world-destroying calamity is about to happen, but because every time we celebrate Mass, every time we pray, every time we meet Christ in the circumstances of the present moment, we are brought into the Father's presence by Christ in the Spirit, and we share directly in heaven which is God's final solution for the whole of creation; and every time we go to Mass or simply pray, Christ, Our Lady, the angels and saints enter our world through and in us.

Advent is the time when we remember that this life receives its value only in so far as it incarnates God's will revealed to our faith in Christ's presence.  As the gospel today teaches us, we must be awake, ready to receive him and not pass our time in debauchery and drunkenness.   In every situation we must pray, "Come, Lord Jesus," and he will be there.   

In this world of change, we find Christ's will in the present moment.   We must not try to re-create a past that is agreeable to us, because God's will is not to be found there.   Nor must we seek our fulfilment in an imaginary future, because that is our own creation, not God's.   We must find God's will where Christ is, in the present; but we must not be so attached to present circumstances that we try to hold on to them when it is God's will that they be changed.   

We must become Advent Christians for whom everything in this world, past, present and to come, must make way for the Christ who comes.   Only our self-will stands in the way.
 click here: ADVENT



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