It greatly pleases me to inform you that I will soon be offering my first public Mass since my hospitalization on August 10th of this year. Although my rehabilitation remains an on-going process, my health has improved enough to return to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
On December 11th next, at 11 a.m. Central Time (CT), I will be offering a Pontifical High Mass, according to the More Ancient Usage of the Roman Rite – what is often called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite – , which will be live-streamed by Catholic Answers. If you cannot assist at the Holy Mass in person, you are invited to view the live-stream.
Although the following day, December 12th, is the traditional feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, this year it falls on the Third Sunday of Advent or Gaudete Sunday. Since, according to the More Recent Usage of the Roman Rite – what is often called the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite – , a solemnity – which the Patronal Feast is at the Shrine – cannot substitute a Sunday in Advent, the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, according to the More Recent Usage, is transferred, this year, to the following day, December 13th. Thus, I will be offering the Gaudete Sunday Mass on December 12th at 1 p.m. CT, as well as the December 13th Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at 12:15 p.m. CT, both according to the More Recent Usage. Neither of these Masses will be live-streamed. So, if you are free, you are invited to make a pilgrimage at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to assist at one or both of these Holy Masses.
Since the More Ancient Usage permits the substitution of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe for Gaudete Sunday, the regular Sunday Mass at the Shrine Church, according to the More Ancient Usage, on Sunday, December 12th, at 9:30 a.m., will be for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. One of the Norbertine Fathers serving at the Shrine will be offering the Mass.
However much I desire for these public liturgies to mark the return to my usual pastoral activities, my rehabilitation must proceed for the foreseeable future. I will continue to keep you updated on my progress as I continue to write to you. For those who wish to receive my letters in print, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be publishing them in their monthly Newsletter, Salve, beginning in January 2022. Register here!
Now, as with my previous letters to you, I, as your spiritual father, would like to turn the topic from an update on my health to a pertinent message for the Liturgical Year. Thus, I offer a brief reflection on how the message in last month’s letter on the Four Last Things – Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell – is connected to the Season of Advent and the preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who became incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, the First of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, which we celebrate on March 25th, each year. At every Holy Mass on Sundays and other feast days, we profess our faith in the Redemptive Incarnation with these words of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” We either bow (Ordinary Form) or genuflect (Extraordinary Form) as we say these words because they express the central mystery of the Faith.
The Season of Advent, which begins for us this year on November 28, is strong in grace for our Christian life. In a particular way, Advent is an invitation for us to draw nearer to the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation, the incomparable mystery by which God the Son took our human nature to save us from sin and death by His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension, and to remain with us always in the Church. The Season of Advent not only invites us to a greater intimacy with Christ – God the Son Incarnate – in our daily lives. It gives us the grace to attain that greater intimacy for the sake of our happiness in this life and the fullness of our happiness in the life which is to come. Christ Incarnate, seated in glory at the right hand of God the Father, acts in our midst through the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist to draw our hearts ever more fully into His Most Sacred Heart.
At the same time, Advent prepares us especially for the Last Day, the day on which Christ, alive for us in the Church, will return in glory to consummate His saving work, to inaugurate “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3, 13). In other words, the Nativity of the Lord prepares the way for “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19,9), in which we have been called to partake from the moment of our baptism. When the angel of the Lord appeared in the fields of Bethlehem, announcing to shepherds, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2, 10-11), he was preparing the human heart to receive the invitation of the “king who gave a marriage feast for his son” and instructed his servants to “invite to the marriage feast as many as you find” (Mt 22, 2. 9). Our Lord’s Parable of the Marriage Feast will find its ultimate fulfillment on the Last Day.
While linking the Season of Advent to the Final Coming or Apocalypse may seem to dampen the celebratory nature of our preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, it is vitally important for us that the First Coming of the Savior is essentially connected to His Second Coming. The intimate connection is not a source of fear or sadness for us but rather of confidence and joy. The word, “apocalypse,” is used not only as the opening word of the Book of Revelation (formerly known as the Book of the Apocalypse), but it is also used shortly after the Nativity, in the account of the Presentation of the Lord. When the Virgin Mother of God and Saint Joseph, Foster-Father of the Savior and True Spouse of Mary, presented Our Lord, shortly after His Birth, in the Temple, the prophet Simeon took the Infant Savior in his arms, declaring Him, “a light for revelation [apocalypse] to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel” (Lk 2, 32).
The word, apocalypse, in the Greek language commonly spoken at the time (Koine Greek) signifies an “unveiling” or “uncovering,” for example, a royal couple uncovering the face of their newborn child for public viewing or a groom unveiling the face of his bride at their wedding ceremony. In a similar way, Our Savior, manifesting the profound mystery of Divine Love, began His Revelation, His Apocalypse, beneath the light of the Star which invited and guided the Three Wise Men “from the East” (Mt 2, 1; cf. Is 49, 12). When the Wise Men saw the light of the star that “came to rest over the place where the child was . . . they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Mt 2, 9-11). Clearly and marvelously, the miraculous light of the Star revealed, uncovered, unveiled the presence of God – God the Son Incarnate – for the true joy of man and the right worship of God. Jesus Christ is the “true light, which gives light to everyone” (Jn 1, 9), as Simeon had prophesied, and as Our Lord more fully revealed in the Book of the Apocalypse: “I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star” (Rv 22, 16).
May the Light of the Lord illumine your life with His glorious truth and love throughout the Season of Advent, which Pope Saint John Paul II called “a period of intense training that directs us decisively to the One who has already come, who will come and who continuously comes” (General Audience, 18 December 2002). Thus, let us spend this time of strong grace in the Church’s liturgical calendar by preparing to celebrate the Birth of God the Son Incarnate, the Redeemer, while keeping in our hearts the joy that is ours as we anticipate His Second Coming on the Last Day. May our Advent observance keep before our hearts the exhortation and promise of Our Lord to His faithful stewards: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Lk 12, 35-37).
Imploring Our Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to bless you, your homes, your families, and all your labors during this Season of Advent, I remain
Yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in the Purest Heart of Saint Joseph