Monday, December 05, 2016

Fr. Perrone on Advent: Killjoy or comfort?

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, December 4, 2016):
Advent proposes to us multiple senses of Christ's coming: in the historical past, the present, and the yet to come. One aspect of this most of us would rather not ponder is His coming as the Judge of every man's conscience. I have been meditating on this in my early morning orisons of the past week only to rediscover its poignancy to affect the deep interior of my soul.

Meditating on the Last Judgment is about self confrontation as much as about being judged. I wonder whether my life's evaluation then will set me among the sheep sequestered from the goats (the hymn Dies Irae). A standard of self-measure is whether I will have been found a friend or an enemy of christ's cross. The feast of Saint Andrew last Wednesday brought this to my mind. When he beheld the cross that had been prepared for his own death, he exclaimed, "O desired cross, receive a disciple of Christ: by means of you may He receive me." Applied to myself, I wonder whether I will have been so converted from my selfness as to have become worthy of the cross of Christ -- or in St. Paul's words, whether I had been crucified with Christ so as to have taken on His life. Like a simple home self-administered medical-test, I can guage somewhat where I will stand before God.

This sober reflection takes some of the saccharine coating off of our pre-holiday frivolities -- sorry to be the killjoy. But what use is the pretense of yet another Christmas season if we have not assumed a Christian identity, that of a son of God with an inheritance of Christ's eternal riches?

You owe it to yourself to picture the arrival of the Judge, and yourself beneathHis judgment seat when all your life's story will be an open book. Every thought, desire and deed ... made public. I can't bear now to anticipate the terrible sound of anger in the voice of the Just Judge in pronouncing His verdict for the damned, "Depart from Me." I need rather to imagine His encouraging word that gives me the hope that my repentance now will have been sincere enough, that my amendment of life sufficient so as to hear His voice of comfort (the word literally means strength) mediated through the Church: "speak tenderly to Jerusalem for her guilt is expiated" (Isaiah). Living now, in the time before the final judgment, I must ever be somewhat uneasy, unsure. Whether I will be set on the right or the left I cannot know with certainty. With neither presumption nor despair, I have hope to see my God face to face -- His of a radiant, rapturous look of divine love. This is the advent I long for. That I'm unworthy of it goes without saying; but I have no other goal in life but this. For the present time, this advent, I pray for deliverance from the evils I can yet commit, the only obstacles to the attainment of my desire. I could never have this hope without the invasion of divine grace into my miserable soul and the steadying patronage of the holy Virgin Mary. This for me is advent. Speaking of Her reminds me that Thursday coming is a holy day of obligation, in Her honor: the Immaculate Conception. Under this title She is patroness of our country for which we have been praying daily. Masses on Thursday will be as on a Sunday (6:30, 9:30, noon) plus an evening Mass at 7:00 p.m. (To anticipate your question: 'No. The evening Mass on Wednesday will not be of the holy day.')

Fr. Perrone

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