Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Homily Second Sunday of Advent Year A 9 December 2007

In 1916, in preparation for the appearances of the Blessed Virgin at Fatima,
an Angel of Peace appeared to the three children who would later see Mary.

On the angel’s third visit…the children witnessed a dramatic scene.

The angel appeared to them with the Eucharist.
Suspending the Host and Chalice in the air…
the angel threw himself prostrate in the ground
and prayed with the children in adoration of the Eucharist!

The angel prostrated himself before the Eucharist!
How blessed would we be if we had such perfect love for Jesus in the Eucharist!

Advent is a season of intense preparation…of making ready…
of placing things in order…
as we anxiously await the coming of the Messiah.

In this holy season…we remember the ancient days of the Old Testament
when the Israelites longed for the Messiah.
We anticipate Christ's second coming in glory at the end of time…
and we resolve to keep vigilant
and make ready for His coming at an hour we do not expect.
And we prepare for the glorious celebration
of Christ's coming into our hearts at Christmas.
As we focus our attention intently on preparing for the coming of Christ…
are we aware that we experience daily
the coming of Christ into our souls in the Eucharist…
a coming for which we must also be intensely prepared?

The Church celebrates the Holy Mass every day, in churches throughout the world.
Wherever the Mass is celebrated…Jesus is entering into the lives of His people.

Whenever you come to Mass…you are receiving Christ into your midst.

Today the Church calls us to pause and to reflect very intently on this question:
“How are we preparing ourselves to receive Jesus
when He comes to us in the Eucharist?”

The act of receiving Communion is a moment of union with the person of Jesus…
and it should never…ever…be simply a rote, casual action.

Coming up in the Communion line,
your hearts and minds should be focused on Jesus, and on Him alone.

If one receives in the hands…
one ought not be poised to snatch the Lord
but ought to present one’s hands as if a throne on which to receive Him.

It is the custom of the diocese of the United States
that the sign of reverence required of the whole Church
takes the form of a bow before receiving Communion.
It is important that we never omit this sign of reverence to the Lord.

To the words “The Body of Christ” and “The Blood of Christ” we respond “Amen.”

Having received Communion, the Host is to be consumed in a reverent manner…
not as if chewing a piece of meat.

The moment of receiving the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion
should leave us in awe and filled with gratitude for this undeserved gift
and the way in which we carry ourselves in that moment
should reflect these sentiments.

We might ask ourselves…
if a stranger came into our church…one who knew nothing of our faith…
would he be impressed by what he sees?

Would the appearance of a bunch of people filing out of the pews…
casually grabbing a piece of bread…
and sitting back down as if nothing happened…
strike at a stranger’s heart?

Communion truly celebrated as the sacredness of the Eucharist demands
should leave a stranger speechless before the awesome mystery
to which our outward actions are directed.

Even beyond this…it is good to reflect on how we prepare for and celebrate
the Liturgy of the Mass.

The Church calls the faithful to prepare
not only our souls…but our bodies as well…for the Eucharist.

We prepare bodily by observing the Communion fast
for a solid hour before Communion.

We prepare spiritually by examining our consciences
and bringing to Confession any mortal sins of which we are aware.

When we have separated ourselves from God though serious sin…
we must first seek reconciliation
before we can worthily and truly be united to Him in Communion.

We prepare for Mass also by coming early to pray
and to quiet our hearts in God’s presence.

Preparing for Jesus’ coming to us in the Eucharist
also means entering deeply into the celebration of the Mass.

It is important to be on time for Mass…
and to stay until after the blessing and recessional hymn.

By coming in late and skipping out on the end…
one only deprives oneself of the fullness
of the incredible spiritual nourishment that is available in the Mass.

Not to mention what it does for the self-esteem of the priest!

What is one hour to give the Lord?
As Jesus asks His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane… “Could you not wait one hour with me?”

The faithful are called to enter with joy and excitement into the celebration of Mass…
to participate in signing God’s praises with conviction…
and to answer clearly all the liturgical responses.

The Mass is of eternal significance…and the high point of our life as Catholics…
and if we believe what we say we do about the Eucharust…
then bodies and souls ought to be caught up in prayer
and nothing should keep us from living the Eucharist we celebrate!

Today’s Gospel is the story of John the Baptist,
the prophet called by God to announce to the people the coming Messiah.

John was a humble, simple man, who lived a meager life
and spent his days preaching repentance and the coming of the Kingdom.

He is the one who cries out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord…make straight His paths!”

John’s words elsewhere…when Jesus comes to be baptized…
are the words of the priest immediately before Communion…
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”

In this moment of grace we call Advent…
may we seize the opportunity to examine our attitude toward the Eucharist…
and to deepen our preparation for Christ's coming in each Communion.

May we exalt the valleys of dark and sin in the grace of Confession…
level the temptations to pride by the virtue of humility…
and thus make a straight path into our hearts for the Lord.

May we prepare well for every Mass…
so that we may celebrate worthily these sacred mysteries
and approach the banquet of the Lamb to worship in spirit and in truth!

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