Listen for the footsteps

As always, Fr. Peter John Cameron gives us a gem:

Father Alfred Delp, the heroic German Jesuit who was executed in 1945 for his resistance to the Nazi regime, wrote this:

Oh, if people know nothing about the promises anymore, if they only experience the four walls and the prison windows of their gray days, and no longer perceive the quiet footsteps of the announcing angels, if the angel’s murmured word does not simultaneously shake us to the depths and lift up our souls–then it is over for us.  Then we are living wasted time, and we are dead, long before they do anything to us.

This Advent is the perfect occasion to take account of all the walls, and prison windows, and gray days that we let define our lives.  There are quiet footsteps and murmured words of announcing angles coming our way, too, to remind us of God’s awesome promises.

Can one fall in love with a season?

Advent
Can one fall in love with a season?
My affection for Advent runs high
as we light the candles on the wreath,
track the trail of the Baptist,
listen to the growing darkness
for the silent music of grace.
The reason for my love for the season
is its three-fold invitation:
speak tenderly—for we are all in exile;
wait patiently—for Dawn is near;
live simply—a locust or two will do.
–Bishop Robert Morneau

By surprise

Another treat of a poem from Jan Richardson:

For Joy

Image: For Joy © Jan L. Richardson

You can prepare
but still
it will come to you
by surprise

crossing through your doorway
calling your name in greeting
turning like a child
who quickens suddenly
within you

it will astonish you
how wide your heart
will open
in welcome

for the joy
that finds you
so ready
and still so
unprepared.

– Jan Richardson

Prepare

And another beautiful Advent poem by Jan Richardson:

Prepare

Strange how one word
will so hollow you out.
But this word
has been in the wilderness
for months.
Years.

This word is what remained
after everything else
was worn away
by sand and stone.
It is what withstood
the glaring of sun by day,
the weeping loneliness of
the moon at night.

Now it comes to you
racing out of the wild
eyes blazing
and waving its arms,
its voice ragged with desert
but piercing and loud
as it speaks itself
again and again.

You can see her artwork and read the rest here.

The Advent Door

Stumbled upon this beautiful Advent poem:

Blessing the Door

First let us say

“Crossing the Threshold” Copyright Jan Richardson

“Crossing the Threshold”
Copyright Jan Richardson

a blessing
upon all who have
entered here before
us.

You can see the sign
of their passage
by the worn place
on the doorframe
as they walked through,
the smooth sill
of the threshold
where they crossed.

Press your ear
to the door
for a moment before
you enter

and you will hear
their voices murmuring
words you cannot
quite make out
but know
are full of welcome.

On the other side
these ones who wait –
for you,
if you do not
know by now –
understand what
a blessing can do

how it appears like
nothing you expected

how it arrives as
visitor,
outrageous invitation,
child;

how it takes the form
of angel
or dream;

how it comes
in words like
How can this be?
and
lifted up the lowly:

how it sounds like
in the wilderness
prepare the way.

Those who wait
for you know
how the mark of
a true blessing
is that it will take you
where you did not
think to go.

Once through this door
there will be more:
more doors
more blessings
more who watch and
wait for you

but here
at this door of
beginning
the blessings cannot
be said without you

So lay your palm
against the frame
that those before you
touched

place your feet
where others paused in this entryway.

Say the thing that
you most need
and the door will
open wide.

And by this word
the door is blessed
and by this word
the blessing is begun
from which
door by door
all the rest
will come.

– Jan Richardson, from  Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas.

Advent . . . and bacon!

Love this post from Bill Donaghy over at The Heart of Things:

Bacon and the Glorious Subterfuge of Christmas

After Mass yesterday, which inaugurated the First Sunday of Advent, we took the family (and me dear ole’ Da who’s visiting from Maine) to a fairly new breakfast venue in town called The Bacon Press. They had an incredible array of bacon themed and bacon saturated fare, and needless to say, I felt as if I were still participating in the afterglow of the Heavenly Banquet, yeah, as if the source of all grace flowing from the altar at St. Patrick’s had indeed perchance sent a little trickle of glory into said establishment. If anyone is scandalized by what I just wrote I apolo… no, you have not yet tasted bacon.

I believe the Jews were kept from eating pork not because it was evil, but lo, because they could not yet withstand the wonder of bacon until the Messianic age, when bacon’s light would be set properly in its place as a secondary good, i.e. “You have a greater than bacon here.” – Matthew 12:41b
During breakfast, as I was enjoying some pancake-battered, deep-fried bacon with my beautiful wife and children, and me dear ole’ Da who’s visiting from Maine, himself so wrapt in the glory of bacon that he rose from table and shared the idea with the general manager that “instead of bagels you could have ‘bacels’ which would be bagels with bacon in them”, and as if it could get any better than all of this, Johnny Mathis soared through the restaurant radio singing “O Come Let Us Adore Him.” Here’s a sampling of the lyrics that I’m sure you’ve all been hearing in your local neighborhood Walmart, Targét, CVS, Tim Horton’s, etc.
O come all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant…
Come and behold Him
Born the King of angels
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord
I turned to Rebecca and had a 23 second adult conversation (which was long for us because we have three kids under 7 years old, were in a restaurant, and there was the added distraction of bacon). “How crazy is it that even in the midst of our secular culture, in our local neighborhood Walmart, Targét, CVS, Tim Horton’s, and The Bacon Press, we’re listening to Johnny Mathis soaring through the restaurant radio singing “O Come Let Us Adore Him”?
Ah, the Glorious Subterfuge of Christmas. We can run but we cannot hide. He comes. Even into Walmart, Targét, CVS, Tim Horton’s, and The Bacon Press. He comes in a thousand ways, down a million little roads bringing His Life and Love through any and every crack in the culture we leave open. So let’s not feel manipulated by the Christmas music playing in the KMart the day after Halloween, but rejoice! Jesus is in the Kmart! The Heavenly Bread lies in the tabernacle and the Heavenly Banquet is offered in our churches but in a certain sense the invitation is also in our stores, on car radios, workplaces, bus stations, everywhere at Christmas time! So come let us adore Him.
And that’s the glorious subterfuge of bacon.

O Advent!

And this from Elizabeth Scalia:

Holy Advent; Holy Hope in Light

Welcome! Welcome! I shed tears of gratitude and joy that you have come round again, O Advent, to shake us from our torpor as early night comes, and the match is struck, and the message is brought home once more; that we are forever in the absence of light; it is beyond us and exterior until we make it welcome and bring it, like a lover, within. Welcome into our deepest void, welcome into the parts of us touched by human frost and stunted. Welcome, O Light, beaming glorious, into remotest apertures of our souls, rays aglow, warmth permeating where we have left old fires unattended and embers to wane, and our abysses to grow chill, and uninhabitable. Welcome light; dispelling illusion, and chasing old ghosts to rest.

Today the promise; the story begins again. The beginning; quiescence, empty and void. Then movement; an annunciation; a Word -one boundless, vibrant “yes” that shakes creation; “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior!” Soon their will be dreams, and silent wondering, and a gathering, and a starry night rent with song. The Word Present penetrates lonely, lost humanity, and enters into the pain and fear, the tumult and whirlwind; He and sets His tent with us not merely dwelling among, but literally with us; with hunger, with the capacity for injury and doubt -with enough vulnerability to be broken- and within this espousal, everything is illuminated!

You can find the rest here.

Fighting “the black dog”

Sharing this from Tod Worner:

The Vital Necessity of Advent

“Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

- G.K. Chesterton. 

Dear Jesus, do I need Advent. I just do. Living in the upper Midwest during the melancholic waning days of fall, begrudging the early arrival of snow flurries and enduring the bone-chill that summer had (mockingly) made me forget, I need Advent. You see, I am predisposed to what Winston Churchill once called “the black dog”. The black dog is an ill-defined woefulness that can gnaw at you at unpredictable times for indescribable reasons. Not classically a depression, it is rather a longing for something that is unfulfilled by anything here on earth. If not tilting into a fuller depression, perhaps this is a good thing. C.S. Lewis, after all, once wondered,

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

And that is why I need Advent. Advent, originating from the Latin “Adventus”, means “a coming, an approach, or an arrival”. It is a season of anticipation, of expectation and of reform in preparation for the arrival. But what is it we are anticipating, expecting, and preparing for? Nothing more than the entry of God into History, the Word Made Flesh, the Messiah, the Savior of Mankind. We are awaiting, expectantly and eagerly, the Central Event of Human History. The Incarnation. Nothing less than that. And that is why I need Advent.

You can finish reading over here.

Advent Song

Advent Song

Lady, what songs are bending
The tall grasses of your mind,
What secret music whispers down your veins,
What wax-leaf ponderings, O Virgin Mary,
Waken our little shouts of expectation?

Our thoughts have lumbered down a treeless highway,
Have sputtered their heavy loftiness, have wept
Their protest. Now we hear the distant birdcall
Oh, dimly! but the woods have heard it well.
The stars are singing in their stupefaction,
The giddy little hills are clapping hands.

But Lady, what songs sway
The supple grasses of your thoughts,
What secret music whispers down your veins?

Glorious things are said about this city
Where the small citizen Christ moves in the lanes
Of so-brief arteried comfort; but what songs
Drift through this templed alabaster town?

We see the windows lighted, Virgin Mary,
City of God, by every hymn we raise
With chipped and broken voices, and our feeble
Vision guesses sacred silhouettes.

But when the little Seed fell in the furrow,
The warm and spotless furrow of your heart,
Tell us what pure songs stirred your delicate wonder,
What secret music whispered down your veins.

Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. [late Abbess of the Colettine Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, New Mexico]