Christmas Eve - Reflection


Sr. Clara Remartini, AVI

After a long time of waiting in Advent, we are ready for Jesus to come.

Sometimes today, before going to the midnight Mass let's take ten minutes to recall  what we have being waiting for and Who is the One who will arrive tonight. We can listen to the music: "Wait for the Lord" if that helps our prayer:

During Advent:

  • What did you wait for? What did you long for?
  • What did you ask in the past month?
  • Whom did you desire Jesus to visit?

Tell Jesus all that you prayed about.

Now read again this passage by St Augustine, which is found in the Office of Reading of today:

"Awake, oh man! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man. 

"You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened 'to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

"Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time. 

"He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord". 

Is there a sentence in this passage that speaks to you and is meaningful in your life?

Thank the Lord, and be specific in expressing how He already changed your life and where you still need to be awaken.

Invite Him. " Maranatha', come Lord Jesus!" Come in the darkness of this friend of mine, come in my sinful flesh, come in the unhappiness of my relatives,  come in our short day of time, come where there is not justice in the world and we feel powerless... COME!

Rest in silence with Him for a couple of minutes, then rejoice in the celebration, because the One we wait for, DOES COME!

And tonight we are happy to say:

BUON NATALE, (Italian for Merry Christmas)!

Fourth Monday of Advent - Poetry


by Rainer Maria Rilke

The wind now drives in winter's woods

The flocks of snow like a shepherd.

Many a fir awaits how soon

It'll shine a pious, saintly light,

Eavesdropping on–beyond. It stretches

Its branches to white ways, it's ready.

It wards off winds to grow into

One night of marvelous majesty. (trans. Callahan)

Es treibt der Wind im Winterwalde

Die Flockenheerde wie ein Hirt,

Und manche Tanne ahnt, wie balde

Sie fromm und lichterheilig wird;

Und lauscht hinaus. Den weissen Wegen

Streckt sie die Zweige hin - bereit,

Und wehrt dem Wind und wäscht entgegen

Der einen Nacht der Herrlichkeit.

Translator's Note: Rilke has enjoyed for some time a popularity among Catholics for the religious themes in his poetry. At times, this has emphasized the saccharine and treacly elements, glossing over the uncomfortable questions raised by his poetry. If you read the German aloud, even if you do not know German, you can hear the sing-song elements that win over the easy reader: the A-B-A-B rhyme scheme, the alliteration. At the same time, in the heart of this poem there are jarring enjambments where the sentences start and stop without reference to the external structure. We, like the fir tree, struggle and reach towards a resolution that seems just out of reach.

Yes, as St. John Paul II said, we are an Easter people. But in the struggles of this world, we remain for now an Advent people as well, and as St. Augustine said, our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.

Third Friday of Advent - Reflection

Rejoicing and Awaiting

by Rev. Dr. Beseau

The Third Week of Advent begins with Gaudete Sunday, taking its name from the first word of the Introit for the Mass that day, “Gaudete in Domino semper . . .” “Rejoice in the Lord always.”  We hear those words as well in the Second Reading from Saint Paul to the Philippians.   What impresses me about these words is that Saint Paul is writing them from jail. With chains on his wrists, he is able to write, “Rejoice, I say it again, rejoice.”  How can Saint Paul write this?  One of the gifts of our Catholic faith is that we believe in God’s Providence and therefore, wherever we are, even in prison, we can “rejoice always.”   Even if we are in a prison, real or metaphorical, we can always rejoice in God’s providence.

This week we also begin singing what are commonly known as the “O Antiphons.” Going back to at least the sixth century, the Church calls us to sing these antiphon each evening at Vespers.  O Sapientia (Wisdom), O Adonai (Lord), O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), ) Clavis David (Key of David), O Oriens (Dayspring), O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations), O Emmanuel (God With Us) might be understood as “stepping prayers” that allow us to prepare to properly celebrate the birth of Christ in the Christmas season.

Second Friday of Advent - Reflection

How Will You Prepare?

by Kristen Cunningham

The other day, a friend and I were pondering the question: “What if the second coming of Jesus was actually happening on December 25th?”  Would we prepare differently for Christmas?  Would we be running around quite as frantically to find Christmas gifts for friends and family? 

Yes, during this Advent season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ as an infant, but the church also points us to look forward toward the second coming of Christ.  Are we preparing our hearts to receive Him more fully, to allow him to be born in a new way into our lives?

Let us look to the way that Mary prepared for the birth of Christ.  Surely she prepared in many ways interiorly, but the primary thing the scriptures tell us about that time is that she traveled to help her cousin Elizabeth during her own pregnancy!  As we begin the Year of Mercy this week, Pope Francis has asked us to examine our own lives and reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead” (Misericordiae Vultus).

How can you reach out this advent to those around you?  To show great love, faith, and sacrifice as Mary did in her time of waiting?  To bring Christ to people in need as she did for Elizabeth?  May your advent be a time of prayerful waiting and preparation!

Second Wednesday of Advent - Podcast

This second week of Advent Sr. Debbie of the Apostles of the Interior Life reflects on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

And a reminder to our St. Lawrence Community that Ruth Kuefler, a KU and St. Lawrence grad, will be making her profession of vows with the Apostles of the Interior Life on this Saturday, December 12th at 10:30am. There will be a Holy Hour in preparation on Friday, December 11th at 7:30pm. Both events will be in the St. Lawrence Chapel. Further information can be found on the AVI website.

Second Monday of Advent - Poetry

From "Advent", Part of For the Time Being

By W.H. Auden

Alone, alone, about a dreadful wood
Of conscious evil runs a lost mankind,
Dreading to find its Father lest it find
The Goodness it has dreaded is not good:
Alone, alone, about our dreadful wood.

Where is that Law for which we broke our own,
Where now that Justice for which Flesh resigned
Her hereditary right to passion, Mind
His will to absolute power? Gone. Gone.
Where is that Law for which we broke our own?

The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.
Was it to meet such grinning evidence
We left our richly odoured ignorance?
Was the triumphant answer to be this?
The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss.

We who must die demand a miracle.
How could the Eternal do a temporal act,
The Infinite become a finite fact?
Nothing can save us that is possible:
We who must die demand a miracle.

Friday of Advent: Week 1 - Reflection

Wait for the Eggnog!

by Fr. Curtis Carlson, O.F.M. Cap.

An older man once told me that he did not like that eggnog was now available year round at the grocery stores. Since it is traditionally a Christmas­time drink, he thought it should only be for sale at Christmas­time. The rest of the year we should do without it, he said. Otherwise, eggnog becomes more common and less a special treat. There is, indeed, a value in having certain things in their proper time and place. Rather than having them available all the time, we wait for the opportunity. Versus instant gratification, we anticipate that which is to come. The anticipation whets the appetite and makes the eventual “treat” more delightful. Drinking eggnog all year means that it will be nothing special at Christmas. Part of the fun of a trip is anticipating it— making a list, packing, planning for lodging and meals, and looking for nearby attractions. Dating chastely means anticipating the eventual full intimacy of marriage without any “too much, too soon” behavior. Thus, we also enter into Advent as a season of anticipation rather than of fulfillment. “Too much Christmas stuff, too soon” negates the anticipation and makes Advent nothing special. So, wait for the eggnog! Allow Advent to be a time preparation for the fullness of Christmas. Let Advent whet our spiritual appetite so that Christmas is a very special treat.

First Monday of Advent - Poetry

The Winter is Cold, is Cold

by Madeleine L'Engle

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!

Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again.