jeudi, décembre 07, 2006

First Sunday of Advent

Ad te levavi animam mean
To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.

The liturgical year starts with this prayer of a soul who seeks God and reminds us that we should recognize ourselves as mendicants, as beggars who need and expect everything from Him. In front of God, we can only be mendicants, because we have absolutely no rights to Him. Our good, our abilities, our being and our lives, everything has been given to us for free, by a pure act of liberality. Facing God, we have no human rights to claim, but only His mercy to invoke. And God is infinitively merciful, we shouldn’t forget this truth.

The highest expression of God’s mercy is the Incarnation. The Incarnation is not a due. Nothing can justify it. Reason cannot explain it. It is simply the effect of the love of God, a God of mercy who wants to save his creatures lost by their sins. Men have devastated the garden given by God. They truly deserve a punishment for this, yet God found the most unbelievable way to forgive them. He would plant another tree in the garden of man, a tree that no one can cut down. This tree has been drawn many times in old manuscripts. It has been described by many spiritual men. This tree is the lignum vitae, the tree of life.

Saint Bonaventure tells us that this tree is divided into three parts: the mystery of origin, the mystery of the Passion and the mystery of glorification. Each mystery is composed of four leaves and each leaf has four flowers. In 48 flowers, the great theologian of the Middle-Ages depicts the mystery of the God-Man who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus is the tree of life planted by God to irrigate the arid soil of mankind.

Death came into the world by the fruit of a tree. This tree is man himself, who stands on his legs towards God, which is the sign of his dignity as Saint Gregory of Nyssa says. But his pride has produced a bad fruit which has contaminated his entire species. Now, he must humble himself in front of this new Tree planted by God and kneel as a sign of his humility. By the way, the practice of receiving Holy Communion while standing is a terrible error and the consequences are probably more devastating than we can imagine. I don’t need to make any commentary on this; just observe what happens in so many churches during Holy Communion. Where is the sense of God and of His majesty? Where is the expression of man’s humility? Virtues beckon acts because there is no virtue without acts. The proper and corresponding act of the virtue of religion is kneeling. I mean, the outward act of this virtue.

During the Advent season, we wait for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ because we know that we need Him. With all the saints of the Old Testament and especially Isaias, we beseech the Heavens to drop dew down from above, and let the clouds rain upon the just. He will come soon, so we have to prepare ourselves to welcome Him. Because His mercy is for everyone, but only those who accept Him can benefit from it.

May Our Lady help us during this time of preparation. May she help us to kneel and to lift up our souls to God.

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