The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
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—Taken from the Saint Isaac Jogues Illuminated Missal, Gradual, and Lectionary.
HE “INTROIT” or ENTRANCE ANTIPHON for today begins with the word Gaudete, meaning “rejoice.” This text is taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, chapter four. As we read on in the text, Saint Paul gives us the reasons for why we should rejoice. He also has some good advice as to how we can rejoice or be happy. However it might be a good idea to give some thought to: “What is genuine happiness?” St. Paul gives us the answer to that question right away when he says “rejoice in the Lord.” The greatest and truest happiness will be found only in the Lord. Now this statement may sound a little vague or even far-fetched. But actually, if I can say right now that I am living in the way God wants me to live—if I am doing right now what God wants me to do—then I should be happy.
Happiness from within: We often think that happiness comes mainly from things outside of ourselves. We often make ourselves unhappy because we have too much of ‘if only-liness.’ If only I had this or that; if only such-and-such were not that way. In other words, we put our happiness in things that we have no control over. As a result, we are not as happy as God wants us to be.
The Lord is near: The first thing St. Paul reminds us of is that the Lord is near. I realize this may be given different interpretations. It may refer to our re-celebrating Christ’s birth as an Infant in Bethlehem. It may even refer to the time that we are waiting for our Lord to come to us and take us to heaven at the moment of death. And those are good and noble thoughts. The truth of the matter is that the Lord is near to us right now; we, as it were, must take the time to realize it.
“Nihil solliciti estis”: I have always loved the Gregorian chant melody that accompanies the Latin words Nihil solliciti estis: “Be not solicitous about anything.” I’ll bet that most people, including myself, have suffered more from things that never happened than from things that actually did happen. Giving up our happiness by suffering for things that never did or will happen is an awful price to pay for the loss of our happiness.
“Modestia nota sit omnibus hominibus”: St. Paul then uses a word that is rather hard to translate. The Latin version uses modestia, which is often translated as “modesty” or “moderation.” The NAB in a footnote suggests also “kindness” or “forbearance.” I don’t claim that I can come up with an adequate translation; but I will suggest that if we “treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves,” we will be doing what St. Paul is suggesting.
Let your petitions be made known to the Lord: The last line of the sung text of this INTROIT is: “let your petitions be made known to the Lord.” Now, it isn’t that Our Lord doesn’t know our petitions or what we need, rather, He knows this is a good way for people to keep in contact with Him. And God will grant our petitions or requests if He knows that will be good for us. Do we really think that we know better? In our private prayer or conversations to God, we can say anything we want. But this should not always be just things we’re asking for. We should be thanking Him for all He has and will be giving to us. We should be telling Him if we have ever offended Him. And as the GLORIA of the Mass suggests, we should “thank Him simply because of His great glory.” When is the last time you did that?
Conclusion: We think of Advent as being a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord. And that is well and good. But actually, during our entire lives we should be ever drawing closer to our Lord. The Church presents the Blessed Mother and St. John the Baptist for two models for us to follow: St. John the Baptist for his penitential life, Mary as one who frequently had contact with God in prayer. Trying to imitate them is a way of getting nearer to God. That is what Advent is really all about. +