3rd Sunday of Advent
Gaudete [Rejoice] Sunday
My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory
Memorial and full set of orations is on Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church. Born in Spain [06/24/1542] he was the youngest child of a father who, though born into nobility, was disinherited for marrying a simple working girl. As a child, he buried his father and a brother, and was raised in abject poverty – so Saint John of the Cross endured many hardships, or rather, crosses from an early age.
He entered a Carmelite Monastery, taking the name ‘John of Saint Matthias’ and was ordained a Priest in 1567, at age 25. Later, he and Saint Teresa sought to reinstitute the strict Carmelite Rule. After changing his name to ‘John of the Cross’ he accepted Saint Teresa’s offer to be Director and Confessor at her convent in Avila. Often mistreated and even imprisoned by his superiors because of his strict self-discipline and desire to weed out laxity and laziness from his brother Religious and Priests, it was in these ‘dark’ times, as he endured unspeakable torments, that he wrote his most profound works, among them: ‘The Dark Night of the Soul.’ He died on December 14, 1591, which is now his Feast Day, and here are his orations.
Collect – Saint John of the Cross
O God, who gave the Priest Saint John
an outstanding dedication to perfect
self-denial and love of the Cross, grant that,
by imitating him closely at all times, we may come to contemplate eternally your glory.
Who lives and reigns … for ever and ever. Amen.
“BE STILL & KNOW THAT I AM GOD.”
These words from Psalm 46:10 aptly describe the way Saint John of the Cross faced every challenge, struggle, injustice or ‘Cross.’
In fact, while most artistic depictions show him looking at a Cross, arms outstretched in total acceptance of all God wills for our growth, development, discipline or whatever [see above] he is sometimes seen with his index finger over his lips in the international, intercultural sign to “Hush!” – “Be Silent!” – Be Quiet!” so we can listen to God as He speaks to us through times of pain or loss or sorrow.
Although we won’t admit it, this posture: being still and silent, open to whatever God wants to say to us – is one we take all too rarely, especially in these ‘hustle and bustle’ days before Christmas. Yet if we are to welcome, once again, the Prince of Peace, we must ‘prepare His way’
by stepping out of the ‘rat race’ and into the places where we can hear His voice, enjoy His presence, and feel His embrace. And if that’s not one good reason to spend more time in prayer, and more time in a church before the Blessed Sacrament, I don’t know what is! So make room for Jesus – today and every day!
Prayer over the Offerings – Saint John of the Cross
Look upon the sacrificial gifts we offer,
almighty God, in commemoration of
Saint John of the Cross and grant that we, who celebrate the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion, may imitate what we now enact.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
MAY WE IMITATE WHAT WE NOW ENACT.
We hear the words so often, perhaps they have lost their impact: “On the night He was betrayed, He took bread …” Like Jesus, who knew very well that His Passion and Death awaited Him after that Last Supper, Saint John of the Cross
knew that he would also suffer because of his beliefs and decisions. Each time we take part in the renewal of the Lord’s Sacrifice at holy Mass, we must be open to how Jesus wants to use us – and our ‘crosses’
– to be more present in our world!
Prayer after Communion – Saint John of the Cross
O God, who in Saint John have wonderfully made known the mystery of the Cross, graciously grant that, drawing strength from this sacrifice, we may cling faithfully to Christ and labor in the Church for the salvation of all.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
DRAW STRENGTH FROM THIS SACRIFICE. As I stated above, it is by uniting ourselves – through the Eucharist – to our Lord’s Passion and Death – that we can rise to new life! What did – or will – you offer along with our Lord’s Sacrifice with Jesus at today’s Mass and at every Mass? Saint John of the Cross, pray for us.
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS