Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies which we began last Advent, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here and here, we look today at Malachi 3: 1-5.
 Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts.
 And who shall be able to think of the day of his coming? and who shall stand to see him? for he is like a refining fire, and like the fuller’s herb:
 And he shall sit refining and cleansing the silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and shall refine them as gold, and as silver, and they shall offer sacrifices to the Lord in justice.  And the sacrifice of Juda and of Jerusalem shall please the Lord, as in the days of old, and in the ancient years.
 And I will come to you in judgment, and will be a speedy witness against sorcerers, and adulterers, and false swearers, and them that oppress the hireling in his wages; the widows, and the fatherless: and oppress the stranger, and have not feared me, saith the Lord of hosts. Continue reading
 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.  And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.
Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote about this passage: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Tomorrow Advent gets under way and to rush it a bit we have my favorite version of O Come O Come Emmanuel, which has always sounded to me as if a group of Zealots were singing it. Emmanuel or Immanuel, “God With Us”, comes from the seventh chapter of Isaiah:
10 And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying:
11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above.
12 And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord.
13 And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also?
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. Continue reading
It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for a waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God the Lord put them.
Father Alfred Delp, SJ
During Advent 1944 Father Alfred Delp, a Jesuit, wrote a reflection on Advent. Go here to read it. It is a fine Advent meditation. The circumstances of its writing demonstrate that the light of Christ, which I have always felt most strongly during Advent, can permeate any darkness. Father Delp wrote it while he was a prisoner of the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
Alfred Delp first saw the light of this world on September 15, 1907 in Mannheim Germany. The son of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, he was raised as a Protestant although he was baptized as a Catholic. He was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1921. Following a bitter argument with his Lutheran pastor, he embraced Catholicism, made his first communion and was confirmed. His Catholic pastor, seeing rare intelligence in the boy, arranged for him to continue his studies.
In 1926 he joined the Jesuits. In 1937 he was ordained as a priest. His further philosophical studies curtailed at the University of Munich due to his anti-Nazi beliefs, Father Delp worked on a Jesuit publication until it was suppressed by the Nazis in April 1941. He was then assigned as rector of Saint Georg church in Munich. All the while he was helping Jews escape into Switzerland. Father Delp’s Jesuit provincial Augustin Rosch was active in the anti-Nazi underground. He introduced Father Delp to the Kreisau Circle of anti-Nazi activists. Father Delp taught Catholic social teaching to the Circle and arranged contacts between them and Catholic leaders. Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming. Continuing on with our Advent examination of major Messianic prophecies, we come to Isaiah 7: 11-16:
11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
and Isaiah 1-7:
1Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria commented upon this passage: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. We start Advent tomorrow, and my thoughts have been turning to the many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that are applicable to Christ. I do not think there is adequate treatment in contemporary catechesis of the remarkable string of prophecies in the Old Testament that find their completion in Christ. All Catholics need to be familiar with these prophecies, for they are an anchor for our Faith. One example is Wisdom 2:12-20: Continue reading
The Advent portions of Handel’s Messiah. The above video is the Overture.
Next we have “Comfort Ye” which is a messianic text from Isaiah 40.
“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to
Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her
iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for
our God. ”
[This guest post was submitted by regular TAC commenter “Pinky” and is particularly timely as we near Christmas.]
“If virtue is a habit, perhaps it’s time to form some more habits around denial of appetite.” – DarwinCatholic
It has always been the practice of the Church to prepare for feast days with prayer and fasting. The opportunity to take part in one of the Church’s oldest traditions is approaching on the 15th, 16th, and 18th of December this year, the tradition of Ember days.
Ember days likely came into being in the years when the Catholic Church was expanding into pagan lands and Christianizing their rituals, although some have dated them back to the time of the Apostles. Further confusing the origin of the practice is the unknown derivation of the word “ember” itself: possibly from the Latin word tempor (time) or the Celtic word ymbren (seasonal cycle).
On the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of four weeks spaced throughout the year, the faithful have been encouraged to prayer, fasting, and partial abstinence (meat was allowed during the one meal except on Fridays or during Lent). These Ember weeks were standardized in 1095 to begin on the Wednesday following the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross (Sept.14) , the Feast of Saint Lucy (Dec.13), Ash Wednesday, and Pentecost. Ember Saturdays are popular days for ordinations. Continue reading
Advent might be summarized by John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
In daily life it is often easy to lose sight of the fact that we are always in the hands of an infinitely loving God who became one of us, His creatures, as a result of that love. Men often fear and deny God I think out of a profound belief that they are unworthy of this love. Peter, the prince of the apostles, after meeting Christ asked Him to leave him because Peter was a sinful man. In our times, drenched in cynicism and wallowing in sin, love is in short supply it seems, and the idea of a loving God is one that many of us flee from and attempt to futilely deny. This attitude calls to mind this passage from the Screwtape letters:
The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy really loves the humans. That, of course, is an impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else—He must have some real motive for creating them and taking so much trouble about them. The reason one comes to talk as if He really had this impossible Love is our utter failure to out that real motive. What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question. I do not see that it can do any harm to tell you that this very problem was a chief cause of Our Father’s quarrel with the Enemy. When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”. It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven. Since then, we have begun to see why our Oppressor was so secretive. His throne depends on the secret. Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by Love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn’t make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can’t find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail—all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed. Continue reading
“Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Isaiah xxxiii. 17.
YEAR after year, as it passes, brings us the same warnings again and again, and none perhaps more impressive than those with which it comes to us at this season. The very frost and cold, rain and gloom, which now befall us, forebode the last dreary days of the world, and in religious hearts raise the thought of them. The year is worn out: spring, summer, autumn, each in turn, have brought their gifts and done their utmost; but they are over, and the end is come. All is past and gone, all has failed, all has sated; we are tired of the past; we would not have the seasons longer; and the austere weather which succeeds, though ungrateful to the body, is in tone with our feelings, and acceptable. Such is the frame of mind which befits the end of the year; and such the frame of mind which comes alike on good and bad at the end of life. The days have come in which they have no pleasure; yet they would hardly be young again, could they be so by wishing it. Life is well enough in its way; but it does not satisfy. Thus the soul is cast forward upon the future, and in proportion as its conscience is clear and its perception keen and true, does it rejoice solemnly that “the night is far spent, the day is at hand,” that there are “new heavens and a new earth” to come, though the former are failing; nay, rather that, because they are failing, it will “soon see the King in His beauty,” and “behold the land which is very far off.” These are feelings for holy men in winter and in age, waiting, in some dejection perhaps, but with comfort on the whole, and calmly though earnestly, for the Advent of Christ. Continue reading
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835. Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.
In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ. In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution. In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith. It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ. The last century brought to reality these words of Newman: “Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.
This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon: “Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world’s life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe. Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ. Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime. Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps merely one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.
In my brief life on earth I have not experienced such high unemployment amongst my family and friends this year than ever before. As each week passes I hear of another friend or acquaintance who has lost his or her job.
This is the worst recession I have seen and I don’t see any signs that it will let up for the next 9-12 months. So I find it appropriate that a simple request to all our readers to make time this evening prior to going to bed and include those that are unemployed, especially those with families and dependents in your prayers.
With extra time on our hands the unemployed can remain steadfastly busy by working on their faith through prayer and service. For when work does come around there will not be time for such activities.
The following prayer is a traditional Catholic prayer that I have used from time to time due to the nature of my work of being an independent contractor and one that helps to put life in proper perspective and order:
Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
You wanted all who are weary
To come to You for support.
Lord, I am worn out
By my inability to find work.
Guide my steps to a righteous path;
Give me the patience
To find opportunities with a future.
Calm my worries and fears
As my financial responsibilities mount.
Strengthen my resolve;
Embolden my heart to open doors;
Open my eyes to see life beyond rejections.
Help me believe in me.
Let me realize other ways
To bring about Your kingdom on earth.
Let me grow as a person
That I may be worthy
For Your greater glory.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Saint Joseph has been especially helpful for me and I strongly recommend him for those seeking employment:
Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God.
Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.
The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.
In Advent my thoughts frequently turn to John the Baptist, the last, and the greatest, of the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ. The Jews lived in expectation for many centuries for the coming of the Anointed One, the Christ. It was left for the Baptist to be His final herald. His cries for repentance in preparing the way for the Lord are a useful reminder to us as to the proper spirit to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Of the film portrayals of John the Baptist, my favorite is that of Charlton Heston in the movie The Greatest Story Ever Told, who conveys well the sheer force of the Baptist’s message and the courage with which he conveyed it. John came to testify to the Truth and nothing would stop him from doing it, not even death as the last 2000 years can attest.
Part II of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ given by John Henry Cardinal Newman during Advent in 1835 before his conversion. Part I is here.
In this second sermon Newman concentrates on what we can glean of the Anti-Christ from Scripture and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church. One thing stands out in this sermon for me. The idea that the reign of the Anti-Christ may involve both ferocious atheism and a return to paganism. This seems like a contradiction, but Newman points to the French Revolution:
In that great and famous nation which is near us, once great for its love of CHRIST’S Church, since memorable for deeds of blasphemy, which lead me here to mention it, and now, when it should be pitied and prayed for, made unhappily our own model in too many respects,-followed when it should be condemned, and admired when it should be excused,-in the capital of that powerful and celebrated nation, there took place, as we all well know, within the last fifty years, an open apostasy from Christianity; not from Christianity only, but from every kind of worship which might retain any semblance or pretence of the great truths of religion. Atheism was absolutely professed; -yet in spite of this, it seems a contradiction in terms to say it, a certain sort of worship, and that, as the prophet expresses it, “a strange worship,” was introduced. Observe what this was.