We like to believe that we are truthful. After all, investigative journalism is born of an era fighting for truth that has been obscured by the establishments or agencies. Think Watergate and all the subsequent “-gates”. However, if we readily give credence to conspiracy theories, then we are in a way, accustomed to being lied to by governments. It means that we are already operating under a hermeneutics of suspicion because our mind has been framed to see conspiracy in everything. Whilst it could be true that people are conspiring but constantly being suspicious may reveal a psychosis of a kind. In short, delusional paranoia.
Heaven-envy, if there is such a word, it is what we are. There is an unease, an emptiness in us which we can never completely obliterate in this life. As such, we set about creating the completion, the integrity or the wholeness that we crave instinctively. Christmas is a good example. We would want a warm Christmas ambiance and presumably made a serious undertaking to create the perfect mood. Nobody, unless he is sick in the head, wants a lousy Christmas.
This is the last of the stational Masses as Christmas is the only day in the liturgical year to have four different liturgies associated with it. We ran the gamut of Matthew, Luke and are now finally settling on the Prologue of John. It is read twice in a year—now and also on the feast of St Sylvester on the 31st of Dec (only if it falls on a weekday). The third time on the 2nd Sunday of Christmas is no longer applicable for the Conference of Bishops in our region since the Solemnity of the Epiphany has been moved to a Sunday.
There are actually 1 plus 3 Masses between now and tomorrow afternoon and they are the Vigil of Christmas Eve followed by the Midnight, Dawn and Day Masses. Why so many liturgies? They harken back to the days of stational Masses where Pope and people used to process from one Church to another to celebrate the different liturgies. The Vigil Mass used to retain a little bit of the Advent penitential flavour but it no longer does.
At this evening, I gave a short history for the 1 + 3 Masses that we have for Christmas eve and day. If earlier, it was the Christmas Vigil, then now, we are celebrating the first of the 3 Christmas Masses, that is, the Midnight Mass. The reason for this goes back to a time when Rome celebrated stational Masses when Pope and people used to process from one Church to another to celebrate the different liturgies.
If the 25th of Dec were to fall on this coming Thursday, it would make this Sunday less of a useless wedge in between last Sunday and Christmas. Whilst the 4th Sunday of Advent does appear pointless, since Christmas eve is tomorrow, I suspect this is because we are no longer accustomed to waiting for the right moment to arrive before we begin to celebrate. Considering we have been enjoying already, it feels like we need to find work for this Sunday so close to Christmas.
Two Latin words Gaudete and Laetare are both translated as Rejoice. What is the difference between them after all they both use rose as their liturgical colour?
According to a famous liturgist, Pius Parsch, "Nature's annual cycle is characterised by two phenomena, light and life. Out of the darkness of night comes light; out of death comes life. The transition from night to light characterises the winter season; the transition from death to life is proper to summertime. The holy year of the Church is likewise divided into two phases which have similar characteristics”. (The Church’s Year of Grace).
We continue along the path of waiting in expectation. Within this expectation there is a call to repentance. The first reading highlights the consequence of sin for which Israel is exiled but it does not end there. Instead, it ends with a promise of redemption. It is this waiting for salvation that the Gospel brings to fore the last Prophet of the Old Testament.
Thus, the 2nd Sunday of Advent is dedicated to the role that John the Baptist played in the drama of salvation. He is the voice in the wilderness calling us to prepare the way for the coming of the Saviour, the one who will Redeem us. Both these words are loaded. Even though they describe the mission of Jesus Christ, they are words that highlight who we are.
“Christmas isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart” is definitely a lovely hymn and heart-warming enough to be included into any carollers’ Advent repertoire. But the hymn does not really tell the full story and it may even be heretical because it reduces Jesus to a tugging of one’s heartstrings as if Jesus is not real if you do not feel Him or “happens in your heart”. However, there is a grain of truth to the hymn if you believe in the 3 Comings of Christ.
As far as Solemnities go, we are not celebrating an ancient liturgy. In a few years’ time, say seven(?), the Church might just initiate a centenary celebration for Christ the King. As history would have it, it was instituted as recent as in 1925. It was not too long after WWI, when quite a few European monarchies had been abolished to be replaced by republics at best and dictatorships are worst. The political structures were crumbling and in its wake, nationalism and fascism waded in to fill the void. Socially, the rise of the machinery ushered in the age of consumerism from which we are still reeling from its ravages.