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Rejoice Always . . . (even in 2020)

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Rose-colored glasses are never made in bifocals. Nobody wants to read the small print in dreams.” ~ Ann Landers

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,” proclaims the prophet Isaiah in the opening phrasing of today’s 1st Reading (Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11), appropriate words to kick off the 3rd Sunday of Advent wherein our rose candle is set ablaze and the joyful anticipation of the coming of our Lord and Savior is imminent.

Isaiah goes on to liken himself to a “bridegroom adorned with a diadem, a bride bedecked with her jewels,” a perfect metaphor in as much as the Church founded by Jesus Christ is indeed His mystical bride, waiting with great hope, faith, and joy for his arrival at the Eternal Wedding Banquet. It’s always important to remember that the Advent Season serves a dual role in our faith formation and salvation story, for in as much as we await the arrival of the baby Jesus in the manger, we wait too for his Second Coming, for that day when he will wipe away every tear from the eyes of the faithful, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain (Revelation 21:4).

In today’s 2nd Reading (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24), Paul encourages the people of Thessalonia to “Rejoice always,” to “pray without ceasing in all circumstances” and to “give thanks.” Surely he’s not talking to those of us in the year 2020? How can we give thanks on the heels of such an arduous and downright tragic year?

In a word, Life. In two words: Eternal Life.

With the pending arrival of Jesus, the clouds have indeed rained down the Just One, the earth has brought forth a Savior (Psalm 85). Eternal life is sudden a possibility, secured for those who live and serve the King. Through the well-cultivated discipline of Spiritual Indifference https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Ignatian-Indifference-on-Steroids, we come to understand that anything and everything that befalls us in this world is passing, a temporary burden that, in reality, draws us closer to our Savior who bore the cross of all crosses. He did so for the forgiveness of sin and the annihilation of death.

Tomorrow the Church will celebrate the Feast Day of Saint John of the Cross, the legendary Carmelite friar, Mystic and Doctor of the Church and a major figure of the Spanish Counter-Reformation. A prolific writer whose works include “Dark Night of the Soul,” John of the Cross had this to say on the topic that gave him his moniker: "Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent." In a separate but similar quote he once remarked "He who loses an opportunity is like the man who lets a bird fly from his hand, for he will never recover it." As faithful and obedient followers of Christ. we must never let our suffering go in vain. The Holy Souls in Purgatory desperately await our assistance. "Let us love the cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything,” said another great Saint of our Church, Saint Gianna Molla. Like John of the Cross, Saint Gianna embraced suffering for she knew that the crosses she was called to bear were temporary. Eternity on the other hand is... well . . . eternal.

On the topic of Saints, I would be remiss if I did not recognize one of the great Saints of our Church, the intrepid Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy https://discover.hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Feast-of-Saint-Lucy, whose Feast Day we celebrate today. I leave you with this powerful intercessory prayer and encourage you to recite it frequently.

And rejoice always, for our Savior is near.

“O Merciful God, by the intercession of Saint Lucy, whose name means ‘light,’ increase and preserve Your light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be faithful in living out my faith and refrain from the blindness and darkness of sin. Saint Lucy, obtain for me by God’s blessing and your intercession, perfect vision fir my eyes and the grace to use them for God’s greater honor and glory and got the salvation of souls. Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr, hear my prayers and obtain for me an answer to my petitions.” ~ Amen

Saint Lucy, remove our “spiritual blind spots.”

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