REFLECTIONS FOR OUR LORD’S ADVENT. (2018)

In what manner does it befit us to be prepared on the Advent of so great a Power; that so, joyous and glad of heart, we may be counted among the worthy and receive our Lord with honour and praise;

NOW that the most sacred and solemn day is approaching, when our Saviour in his Mercy wasScreenshot 2018-12-02 at 12.27.33 pleased to be born among men, consider diligently, beloved brothers and sisters, in what manner does it befit us to be prepared on the Advent of so great a Power; so that, joyous and glad of heart, we may be counted among the worthy and receive our Lord with honour and praise; and in His sight being able to rejoice with thankfulness, amidst the blessed companies of the Saints, rather than to be cast off by Him as punishment for our vileness, and to deserve, with the sinners, everlasting confusion. Therefore, I would ask and pray, that with the help of God we labour all we can, so that on that day we may be able with a conscience pure of offence, clean heart and chaste body,  draw near to the Altar of the Lord, and deserve to receive RequirementsHis Body and Blood, rather than His condemnation, for our soul’s wellbeing. For in the Body of Christ stands our life; even as Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53  Let him, then, change his life who desires to receive Life.  For except he change his life, he will receive a Life of condemnation; and will be corrupted by it rather than healed, killed rather than made alive.  As the Apostle has said: “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” 1 Cor. 11:29.

And although it befits us at all times to be adorned and resplendent with good  works, most importantly on the day of our Lord’s Nativity, as He himself tells us in the Gospel, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16  I beg you to consider, my brothers and sisters, when any man in power or of noble birth desires to celebrate his own birthday, or that of a son or daughter, how meticulously and for how many days beforehand he looks to what is dirty in hisconscience house, and orders it to be cleaned anything he sees as dirty or disorderly in his house; order that which is trivial and messy to be thrown out, and what is useful and necessary to be displayed; the house, too, if it is gloomy, to be whitewashed or re-decorated; the floors are swept and mopped, the rooms embellished with various flowers and decorations; and whatever serves to gladden the mind and comfort the body is provided with all care for the festivities. And why is all this done, beloved brothers and sisters, if not to celebrate with joy the birthday of some perishable mortal?  If, then, such preparations are made on your own birthday, or that of a son or daughter or spouse, how many, and what kind of preparations should we make for the Birthday of Our Lord? If you prepare all these things for a mortal, what should you to prepare for the Eternal? Whatever, then, you would be unwilling to find, so far as you can help it, in your house, strive that God does not find in your soul.  

Were some earthly king or leader of a family to invite you to  their birthday festivities, what type of outfit would you wear — how new or clean would they be; how soul adornedelegant — so that none of their oldness, or their wear and tear or plainness or dirt on them would offend your host?  You would ensure that you are presentable, fit in, make an impression.  With the same eagerness, you should therefore strive, with the help of Christ, to arrive at the solemn feast of the Eternal King with a clear conscience; to the birthday of your Lord and Saviour; your soul complete in all the garments of holiness, adorned with the jewels of simplicity, the flowers of abstinence, chaste in mind and body, noble in charity and in the white garments of donation.  For Christ the Lord, perceiving that you are accordingly prepared for the celebration of His birthday, will condescend Himself, in His own Person, to come to you, not only to visit your souls, but to rest there and dwell there forever.  As it is written: “I will live in them and move among them,” [2 Cor. 6:16] and again, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.” [Rev. 3:20]. Just  imagine how happy a soul that seeks, with the help of God, to order their life in such a manner that they will be deserving of Christ’s visit and Him knocking at your door so that He may, as a guest, dwell within you!  Alternatively, how miserable would your conscience be, filled with a flood of tears and mourn, the evil works that have so mutilate you; that have placed you so far from Christ that instead of Him resting in your soul, you have allowed the devil to rule there instead!  A soul such as this, unless the soothing balm of penance comes to its aid, will be abandoned by the light and instead will be dominated and taken over by darkness, corruption and immorality.  This soul will be emptied of any remaining sweetness which will be replaced with bitterness and bile, it will become a quarry to death and deserted by life.  This person should not mistrust the Lord’s love for them, nor his favour or they will be taken over and consumed by a despair that “cultivates death”; instead go to confession, make an act of contrition, and while the wounds and the sins are still fresh and in your mind, apply the healing remedies that your penance required. There is only one great Physician and that issin followed by Almighty God, our Father in Heaven, who so very much wants to cure our wounds, so much so, that after His remedies, not a single scar would remain visible on you. Should we therefore not prepare most carefully and for many days in advance, before His Nativity and abstain from sin, wrongdoing, defilement, acts of selfishness, lewdness.  I have no doubt whatsoever that He would never deny His healing balm to us, if we seek it earnestly.  How do I know that?  Because he loves us as a Father loves his children.  He loves us unreservedly.

So as we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Lord’s Nativity, or come to that, any solemnity within the Church calendar, stay away from drunkenness, don’t get angry as it can become a rage, drive out all the hatred from your heart and mind, it’s a poison to you which is slow and deadly.  For once, reach out, not just to your friends but also your enemies [before I ever made any vows I my minor orders, my spiritual director told me to sit down and write all the offences and wrongs I had committed towards others, with obedience, I earnestly tasked myself to remember everything.  When I completed the list, I went back sins shunnedto him and gave him the list, he asked me why had I brought it to him? He tells me to approached everyone that I could find on my list personally and apologised for the hurt or wrong I had caused them and to make things right.  Some remembered, some did not; some accepted my apologies others did not, some thought it funny and one became hostile and violent; yet it was done and it was liberating in a manner that I cannot really put into words.  Yes it was a shock to be asked to do it, yes it was a bit scary and on one occasion somewhat painful, but extremely unburdening for the mind and soul.] The reason for doing this is so that you can honestly and with a safe conscience say in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.”  I’m not certain how or why anyone would want to approach the Lord’s Altar when their heart is filled with, hate, envy, a grudge or sin in their heart towards a single person.  Remember the fearful exclamation of St. John the Evangelist: “Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15

I leave it to your judgement, should a murderer, before he has made a penance, approach the Altar and receive the Eucharist.  St John reminds us “But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:11 he further writes: “ If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20  From this we determine that whoever nourishes hatred or anger in their heart and is not frightened or worried, should be seen not as slumbering but dead.

These things, then, my dearest brothers and sisters, must be considered each and every day; let those who are good strive, with the grace of God, to continue in their good works; since it is not he who has begun, but he who has continued, even to the very end, that will be saved. But let those who are conscious of being slow in alms-giving, quick to anger, and prone to excess, hasten, with the help of the Lord, to deliver themselves from their evil; so that they may have the grace to fulfil that which is good; that when the Day of Judgment comes, they may not be found among the unworthy, but be deserving to attain, with the just and merciful, to everlasting rewards, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigns for ever. Amen. 

I will pray for you all throughout this advent period in the hope that you will spare a prayer for me and the Hermits of Saint Bruno.  I extend my humble blessings upon you all in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

Serra San BrunoDom Ugo-Maria

 

Author: dom.Ugo-Maria

Catholic Priest - Hermit of Carthusian Charism, following the early and stricter Coutumes de Chartreuse (Rule) written about 1121-1128 written by Guigues du Chastel the 5th prior and Father General of Grande Chartreuse. Served as a curate and priest in Ireland for a while then moving to Devon as Parish Priest. A spell as Prison Chaplain and then Chaplain to the Railways (SouthEastern). Then a few years as a Diocesan Administrator, Vicar Forane, Vicar General and called as a Bishop (which I turned down). In the past I served as an officer in HM Armed Forces, lectured at Oxford, and teacher at the Royal School for Deaf children in Margate (now closed), for a spell (13 months) run an NHS hospital where I quickly realised that if you have no medical background and tend to use spreadsheets to reach a decision then you should not be running a hospital. Now I serve as Prior to the Hermits of Saint Bruno at St. Mary's Hermitage near Canterbury in Kent. I write on the Eremitic way of life although sometimes I tend to broach other subjects of interest, and occasionally undertake translations for Bishop Alistair from English to Italian. My life as a contemplative is extremely fulfilling and busy and I no longer have a public ministry which I occasionally miss especially the out-reach ministry. I also enjoy gardening on the hermitage grounds and as most gardeners will know its a never ending task, albeit quite rewarding. The hermitage also has some other residents, there is the hermitage guardian who is a layman who lives in rooms at the front of our hermitage and acts as a barrier/intermediary with the outside world; there is Jules a 4 year old Staffordshire terrier, who seems to know the Monastic Horarium and occasionally acts as a prompt, Augustus the tom cat who is 1 year old now and spends most of his time in the fields surrounding us catching moles, mice and rabbits (not so keen on birds) or in my cell when it gets too hot outside (he occasionally assist in writing my articles - having adopted the habit of falling asleep at my desk, occasionally waking and hitting the keyboard with his paw), Buffy who is 25 years old and Terra, her daughter who is 24 years old, female cats that were with me when I was parish priest at St. John Bosco's in Barnstaple. The two hens Hildegard (von Bingen) and Rosaline (of Villeneuve) who provide the eggs that we need, and then there is Topo Gigio a mouse who lives in one of our outhouses who is not scared of cats or people, can be quite vocal if you upset him by encroaching although quite frankly is no bother at all which is why he has been left alone. We currently also have 6 sheep outside in the field (not ours) but they do keep the grass cut. We are fortunate to have several fruit trees, Apples, Plums, Cherries, Pears, and 2 fig plants which I brought back from Sicily, quite a few herbs: mint, St. John's-wort, basil, chives, garlic, oregano, lemon balm, sage, chamomile, bay, echinacea, coriander, feverfew, lavender, valerian, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, cilantro and others, there are also many flowers, too many to list. My interests are mediaeval church & monastic history, ancient liturgies, the Old Catholic Movement, Nicene and post Nicene Fathers, Desert Fathers and Mothers and Carthusian history. I also speak Italian and German, Latin, Catalan, Sicilian and French although am rusty with some.

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