And Elias, the prophet, stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch (Ecclesiasticus. 48.1, DRV)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

God Comes to Disturb Us


First Sunday of Advent

... It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light... the Lord Jesus Christ (Epistle of Today's Mass, Rom. 13.11-14)

We rejoice in recovering the valuable possessions we have lost. But how much shall we greatly rejoice in regaining those that have been irreparably lost?

At this time of the Christian liturgical calendar, the whole of Christendom awaits the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3.8). God's coming to our lives brings to us our real image and with it the restoration of our dignity once shattered when we rebelled against the order God has designed for us. He came to His own... as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His Name... (Jn. 1.11,12). 

Once, He called us to His sons through Baptism. This time, He calls us to perfect that image and likeness. For us His Teresian Carmelite religious children, this is through a very special way of life which is but an intensification of the new life in Christ we already received through Baptism, recovered through the Sacrament of Penance, and nourished in and sustained by the Holy Eucharist. God calls us to shine forth more like the noonday sun amidst the Church and the world now becoming more and more effaced of the signs and symbols of His image and presence.

... To be made* the sons of God... (Jn. 1.12): To live according to this image is demanding and testing because of the 'severities' it imposes or rather the way it should permanently imprint on our souls. This is the reason why God gives us the power (ibid.), that is, His grace - through prayer, the Sacraments, and by the use of Sacramentals (such as the wearing of the Scapular, the religious garb or "habit" of us who belong to the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel). God begins this restoration, supplies all that is needed, and the only One still Who perfects what He has begun. On our part, we have to work with determination and abandonment on what He supplies us and listen to His foreman (that is, the Church, but through her orthodox pastors and spiritual directors).  
* The "New" versions all render it "to become" as if this spiritual regeneration and transformation is by our natural powers and not by the operation of the Holy Ghost [thus paving the way to the Pelagian heresy of the 5th century which "held that by nature, man can perform good works that merit salvation without the grace of God with the role of Christ as only that of an "example" or "instruction"; that the prompting of God's grace is not necessary, either for the beginning or the accomplishment of a meritorious act; that man chooses virtue by his own natural power" (T. Nelson, "Which Bible Should You Read," p.89); and, to the Semi-Pelagian heresy which "held that grace is necessary for the accomplishment of good works, but not for their initiation or beginning, which man initially chooses by his free will unaided by God's grace" (ibid.).].
As sons, we are given again the right and privilege to participate (to share) in the life of God through Our Lord Jesus Christ. As heirs, we take possession of no other inheritance but God. When God comes, He embraces and takes possession of us once more as His long-lost sons and we have to run towards Him, to embrace Him, and take possession of Him in return simply because we have no other one to turn to. Truly, what a rejoicing reunion. However, this perfect union and rejoicing can be realized only in heaven. 

 Novus Ordo Discalced Carmelite priests and their
 church - a "new/updated image"
Just the same, this blessed life has already begun in us. This is what our Holy Church calls a foretaste of the life we are hoping for. For us the Discalced religious of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the perfection of this supernatural life begun in Baptism has commenced with the reception of our distinguishing mark as God's Discalced Carmelite religious children: the Carmelite habit - the Scapular of Our Lady - on the day of our clothing. As such the Church demands, as she has always done through the decrees of the successors of St. Peter and her Canon Law, of us as her signs as well to manifest the distinctive presence and identity of God's Kingdom "affecting ways of acting, attire and style of life" (Vatican Congregation for Religious Institutes, "Essential Elements of Church's Teaching on Religious Life," 10). Pope John Paul II, exhorting the religious in 1979: “I say: rejoice to be witnesses to Christ in the modern world. Do not hesitate to be recognizable, identifiable in the streets as men and women who have consecrated their lives to God and who have given up everything worldly to follow Christ. Believe that contemporary men and women set value on visible signs of consecration of your lives. People need signs and reminders of God in the modern secular city, which has few reminders of God left. So do not help the trend towards ‘taking God off the streets by adapting secular modes of dress and behavior yourselves!” Cardinal Ciappi, O.P., in commending Friar Bernardo, O.F.M. for his "defense of the Catholic discipline" on the obligation of the religious to constantly wear their respective habits: "I hope that many priests and religious... shall be more obedient to the ecclesiastical Authority and proud to dress in the religious habit, as a sign of consecration to God and conformity to Jesus Christ, Who, as the Word of the Father, did humble Himself, dressing in human nature" (Letter of October 16, 1987). 

Now, merely to view God's advent in our lives this way and to experience at this external level of religious life the joy this holy season brings is to miss the whole picture and to reduce the expression of the profound Christmas joy into a sentimental one that quickly pops off as the season folds up. We shall only and surely miss the salvation of God if we do not take heed the other part of the equation, so to speak, of God's birth into our lives: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain... (Lk. 3.4-5). Conversion shall be the test as the necessary indication and expression of God's intervening and transforming Incarnation. For, as Archbishop Fulton Sheen puts it, "the nearer Christ comes to a heart, the more it becomes conscious of its guilt; it will either ask for His mercy [and pardon] and find peace, or else it will turn against Him because it is not yet ready to give up its sinfulness."

God disturbs and confronts us to subscribe to God's light or to our own light, to the highest (spiritual) good - God Himself, no more no less - or the good we fancy, to God's absolute and eternal truths or to our own relative truths ("As for me..."). And there can be no midway in which we could play safe before the presence of God for I would you were cold or hot (Apoc. 3.15). No man sews a piece of raw cloth to an old garment... and no man puts new wine into old bottles (Mk. 2.21-22). The Lord at His coming provokes us to be not conformed to this world (Rom. 12.2), to be renewed in spirit of your mind; stripping the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error, with his deeds and put on the new man who is Christ... (Eph. 4.22-23; Gal. 3.27). For as the life of the Lord, through His image and likeness, His words and works, so much opposes the world's and the maxims which govern the latter, so must we who have opened our minds and hearts to Him and followed Him

Do religious men and women rejoice at the divine image Our Lord redeems for and imprints in us? If we say we are just being "broadminded" which means we are being "practical", that is, just flowing according to the current of the times, then we become seasonal, occasional, and ceremonial religious who, according to our holy Mother Teresa of Jesus, "enjoy God up there and the world down here." And like the godless that "create" their own image, we would end up disowned by God before His presence: I never knew you... (Mt. 7.23).

God comes to disturb us to clarify where our hearts are set upon. If we choose to set our hearts upon Him, then as His sons we must strive to meet the demands of His Heart by following the enduring path opened to us by the Child Jesus: conformity with God's eternal truths, commands and designs.

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Salvation is in the "Blood of the Lamb"

Apocalypse XIV now unfolding (cf., our posts "The Wine of the Wrath of God" and "After Pope Benedict XVI, the 'Last' Roman Pontiff?"). The divine chastisement of world-wide conflagration (Lk. 17.29-30, cf., our post "Our Lady, Vatican II Disorientation, and the Annihilation of Many Nations") to annihilate the 'super-power' and cities and nations drunk with the wine of its immodesty, impurity, fornication, homosexuality, and blasphemies (Apoc. 14.8) is imminent - the close of our end-times period (distinct from the consummation of the world, Mt. 28.20).

They... have made them white in the Blood of the Lamb
(Apoc. 7.14) ... All things... are cleansed with Blood: and without shedding of Blood there is no remission (Heb. 9.22).

The Blood of the [Divine] Lamb can be availed of in the traditional Rite of the Sacrament of Penance (cf., our post "On Concealing Sins in Confession") and of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (the Traditional Latin Mass). Go to our traditional Catholic Mass Centers (links on the left-side bar of this site). Flee to the mountains... (Mt. 24.16).

See also the Messages and Appeals (on the upper right-side bar) of the Apocalyptic Woman in her title of Our Lady of Fatima.