On Christmas Eve we began the Divine Office with the antiphon

Know today that the Lord will come: in the morning your will see his glory

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live each day with the conviction that yes, the Lord will come – that He will come is as sure as the dawn!
During the past four weeks of Advent we have been waiting for His coming and we have reflected on His three comings:
1) His coming at the end of time
2) His coming on the first Christmas at Bethlehem
3) His coming in grace to each individual

While we remember and celebrate His coming on the first Christmas night when the angels brought the shepherds “the news of great joy that today a Saviour has been born” we can also look on our celebration of Christmas as a foretaste of that moment when that same Saviour will bring us through the gates of death to eternal life and then we shall see His glory! what our joy will be on that day we will never grasp until we experience it!
Therefore each celebration of the Christmas mystery deepens our joy and our hope and unites us with our loved ones who have gone before us and who await us to share in the great banquet of our heavenly home.

We wish all our readers a grace-filled Christmas.

The following is a reflection given by one of the our sisters at First Vespers of Christmas which we would like to share with you

REFLECTION

This year marked the 30th Anniversary of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s death. He was given this title “The World’s Preacher” because he had an audience of millions for his T.V. shows and radio broadcasts – up to 30 million viewers per week in the 1930’s, 40’s & 50’s. His TV show was called ‘Life is Worth Living’ and his message is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago – if not more so.

At his anniversary Mass in New York, two weeks ago Archbishop Dolan said that the key message of the ‘World’s Preacher’ was “He wanted to get to Heaven; and he wanted to bring the whole world with him”- a mission very similar to that of our Dominican Order which was founded by St Dominic “for preaching and the salvation of souls”.

Archbishop Dolan continued to say in his homily that “Fulton Sheen’s pivotal insight, central to revelation, was that Jesus Christ was the way to heaven, the truth about how to get there, the life we hope to share for all eternity. For him this Jesus was alive, still active, still powerful, still teaching, still healing, still praying, still leading us to heaven, because you see the Incarnation was still going on: The Word was still taking flesh; God was still becoming man”. The great mystery of the Incarnation continues if we allow the Word to become flesh in us. In preface III of Christmas, we read these wonderful and astonishing words:

Today in Jesus Christ a new light has dawned upon the world:
God has become one with man,
and man has become one again with God.

It is God who has achieved for us this unity with him. Our communion with God is emphasised also in the prayer over the gifts in Mass tonight (Midnight Mass) as it says:

‘Lord, accept our gifts on this joyful feast of our salvation. By our communion with God made man, may we become more like him, who joins our lives to yours, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen’

Our union with Christ is sustained and nourished through the Eucharist and the other sacraments, through the celebration of the Liturgical Hours, through private prayer, through doing good deeds, through loving others. Love and loving are central. Pope Benedict said recently that “the secret of true joy does not consist in having a lot of things, but in feeling loved by the Lord, in making oneself a gift for others, in loving.”

It struck me that Fulton Sheen’s preaching combined very powerfully the three comings of Christ with particular emphasis on the third coming which, if lost sight of, distorts the quality of our living to the full, diminishing it in some way. Like Cassian’s first Conference it is helpful for us to have the goal of the monastic life always in view, which is the Kingdom of God – Heaven Itself, while being aware that the way to reach it, is living deliberately, in purity of heart, in deep love of God and neighbour.

Being aware of the tensions between the past, present and future comings of Christ and keeping them in correct balance, sustains us in our life of prayer, amid personal, Church, country and global darkness and crises. Jesus still invites us to come to Him for peace, meaning, purpose, for salvation, and eventually to come with him forever to Heaven, as Preface II of Christmas says:

“Christ has come to lift up all things to himself,
to restore unity to creation,
and to lead mankind from exile into your heavenly kingdom.

I will end with the second opening prayer of the Mass tonight which beautifully illustrates these three comings of Christ and the joy which will be ours in eternity at the final coming of Christ, while being given a foretaste of this joy now on our journey on earth.

Let us pray
‘Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, your glory breaks on the world.

Through the night hours of the darkened earth we your people watch for the coming of
your promised Son. (1st Coming)

As we wait, give us a foretaste of the joy (2nd coming in grace) that you will grant us when the fullness of his glory has filled the earth, (Final coming) who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.