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The Season Of The Secret: Spiritual Exercise 12/09/19

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm mountain (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm eastern).

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REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

The Season Of The Secret

The Word of God compenetrates our personal lives and our communal history in beautiful ways, particularly at Advent. Oftentimes we have the experience of finding ourselves, our lives, in the Word of God. This is not accidental. It is essential to our existence and to God’s plan. It is one of the ways He gifts us in finding our way through life.

There are many secret mysteries at work in Advent, which can be revealed to us according to our silence and interior focus. One of the details of the Christmas story, which is often overlooked, is the detail of the census at the time of the birth of Christ. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.” Lk. 2:1. Some translations use the word “taxed” in place of enrolled. Both are significant for us.

St. Gregory says that “the registering of the whole world when our Lord was about to be born was mystical; for He appeared in the flesh Who should write down the names of His own elect in eternity. ”  

And St. Ambrose said:  “There is described a secular registration, implied a spiritual one, to be laid before the King not of earth but of Heaven; a registering of faith: a census of souls…This was then the first public enrollment of souls to the Lord… But in order that men might know that the taxing was just, there came up to it, Joseph and Mary, the just man and the virgin. He who kept the word and she who obeyed it.”

As a diocese, we have felt this same calling to a census, to accountability, to the registering of ourselves and even our properties.  We have experienced this to be a distressing trial.  We have been “taxed,” uprooted, required to leave our discerned way of doing things at a time when we supposed things would always remain the same.  

We have been asked to “travel” back to our birthright as children of God to be counted. We experience this as strange, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar. We find it hard to understand. In the movement and mix of emotion, some have felt deep anxiety, some have felt dispossessed of their church-homes, and looked upon with mistrust by others trying to cling to an order which is being upended. We are required to move, and to be “counted,” yet we sometimes experience that there seems to be no real welcome in the Inn.

When we look, with great silence in our hearts, we see that this time for us is deeply mystical.  Our present experience profoundly participates in the experiences of the Holy Family.  We see God’s providential will working through authority given and blessed by Him.  We see the anxiety of St. Joseph in our Bishop as he works to secure a stable place for the faithful within the shelter of a Church in flux and in crisis. We see people in movement, either complying with the given directions or leaving altogether.  And we see Mary and Joseph, and their quiet and prompt obedience to the will of God suddenly made manifest in current events. 

We remember that God did not overlook the fact that Mary was on the verge of giving birth. The events surrounding this Birth were arranged to the last detail and meant to be the context in which the mystery of our salvation would enter into our lives in Person. But they did not appear this way on the surface. This most special moment in all of human history was preceded by a sudden uprooting and a hard, treacherous, and exhausting journey.

Difficulties did not disappear with the Birth.  New challenges and threats emerged to oppose, to drown out, to kill the mystery, the Gift, the Flood of Light that had just come into the world to enlighten every man.  

We are caught up in these same mysteries.  Compliance with the “census” is important as a mark of our obedience and trust.  But it is not the central drama and should not demand undue attention from us.  We do not want to be counted among the faithless.  “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” LK 18: 8. Rather, we want to be mindful that all of God’s ways are full of mystery.  The deepest troubles most often hide and give birth to the greatest blessings.  

“Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of divine love growing within… The way to begin healing the wounds of the world (and of the Church) is to treasure the Infant Christ in us; to be not the castle but the cradle of Christ; and, in rocking that cradle to the rhythm of love, to swing the whole world back into the beat of the Music of Eternal Life.”  -Caryll Houselander

Mary was absorbed in the Mystery of God’s love growing within Her despite the seeming chaos around her.  That is our same call during Advent.

May our faith in God’s omnipotent care never fail us as we await the sweet arrival of our longed-for Love Who comes to us in all the wrappings of our own littleness this Christmas. 

And may our hearts be the cradle that holds the Prince of Peace, our Wonderful Counselor, Emmanuel, God with us, for all to see so that “waking, working, eating, sleeping, being – each breath is a breathing of Christ into the world.”-Caryll Houselander

Questions for Reflection

1. If a heavenly census took place right now, how would you be counted?

2. What is your interior life like? What absorbs most of your attention?

3. How do the things you spend your time on, look in the light of eternity? Do they matter in that light?

4. Many of us let the things outside of us derail our focus on God. What in particular, makes you lose the presence of God within you?

May you Christmas and New Year be overflowing God’s Blessings. Love from Sr. Anne Marie and Denise Archuleta

The Angelus

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary; 
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  
R. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord: 
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  
R. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

V. And the Word was made flesh: 
R. And dwelt among us. 

V. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  
R. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. 
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray: 
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts,  
that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection,  
through the same Christ our Lord. 
R. Amen. 

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