Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,
The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete comes from the Latin word “rejoice”). St. Paul begins the second reading encouraging us to “Rejoice always.” Sure, when times are good we can get on board with St. Paul’s instruction; but what happens when times aren’t so fortuitous? St. John of the Cross, whom the Church celebrates on December 15, gives the perfect testimony of one who learned to rejoice in Lord, and solely in the Lord.
John was born into an impoverished family in Spain in the 1500’s. His father died when he was just three, and soon after his older brother died, probably due to malnourishment. John was malnourished himself, so he was small of stature into his adulthood. He thought about becoming a Carthusian, which is a very strict order that observes perpetual silence. Instead, he providentially met St. Teresa of Avila, who convinced him to become a Carmelite and to help her in the reformation of the order. Under John and Teresa’s leadership, the order experienced a spiritual reawakening and rediscovered many of the rigorous and spiritually fruitful practices of its beginning. John was persecuted by many of his lax brethren though, and he was summarily arrested and thrown into prison on trumped up charges of disobedience. He was kept in solitary confinement in a dark and small cell for nine months, fed a meager ration of food, and lashed publicly at least twice a week. He was forced to pray his breviary by standing on a small bench, which allowed to him to see with a small amount of light from the adjacent cell.
Incredibly, this period of imprisonment proved to be spiritually fruitful for John. Stemming from his imprisonment, he composed his spiritual classics Ascent of Mt. Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, The Living Flame of Love, and the Spiritual Canticle. Twice more over the course of his life he was persecuted by his supposed brethren. The result of all this, though, was an abiding union with Jesus Christ and an unassailable peace.
As we celebrate Gaudete Sunday and prepare for the celebration of Christmas, the Church urges us to rejoice. Is the source of our joy Jesus or is it some other worldly good: health, esteem, comfort, etc.? In the birth of Christ, we reaffirm that in Him we have received infinite riches, the priceless healing of the soul, and the true esteem that we long for: that of our restored dignity as beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.
Next weekend is both the fourth Sunday of Advent (Saturday evening-Sunday) and Christmas (Sunday evening-Monday). Remember that you should attend Mass twice, but how you do so is completely up to you. You could fulfill the obligation by attending on:
Saturday evening and Sunday evening
Saturday evening and Monday
Sunday morning and Sunday evening
Sunday morning and Monday
Sunday evening and Monday
In Christ, the joy of our lives,