December 13, 2020
On this particular Sunday, you will notice that the candle most recently lit on the Advent Wreath as well as the vestments worn by the priest differ from the other Advent Sundays. Rather than the deep hue of violet, the candle and the vestments are rose color—a softened hue of violet. This rose color serves as a cue for us to rejoice for the Lord Christ is close at hand. In other words, Christmas is coming soon.
The name of this Sunday is ‘Gaudete Sunday’, which means “rejoice”. The first word of the entrance song that is given when no other hymn supplants it as it usually does for this Sunday is rejoice. Why should we rejoice? St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians tells us why: The Lord is near. How is this so? Through the outpouring of God’s grace. This grace is more than just morality or virtue or freedom from sin, although these things cultivate our receptivity to his grace. This grace is life, that higher life which is unaffected by physical death. It is that spiritual light that banishes blindness from the soul. The hallmarks of its presence in a person are peace, love and truth. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our frail bodies is the agent that makes this grace operative within us.
It is when we consider just how graced we are that we care able to truly rejoice. This is more than just a happy face, but a deep conviction that God is with us always in whatever situation we may find ourselves. It is this conviction which inspired St. Paul to write these words to the Philippian Church in the midst of some of his darkest hours. If we put this conviction into practice, our joy will radiate to all those around us because we are filled with a share in God’s life and all goodness diffuses itself. As Christmas draws near, let the joy we experience not be merely temporary, but a lasting joy because we are convinced of God’s abiding love for us.
This past week, I received several calls from concerned parishioners informing me of people near them who are not wearing masks in church. I must remind you that wearing a mask in public is a law in the State of Ohio and this includes when you are in church. You may be trying to make a statement of your personal beliefs or convictions, but, my friends, this virus is real, and parishioners are suffering horribly with it. None of us like wearing masks. I personally hate it. However, as Bishop Malesic stated, “Wearing masks is an act of charity and respect for those around us.” Advent is a time for us to grow in this virtue. Please wear your masks.
Thank you for your cooperation.