Sunday, 16 December 2012

The hour of grace we seek

"Tempus ad est gratiae, 
Hoc quod optabamus" 
("Now is the time of grace that we have longed for", from "Gaudete")

"What good is it that Christ was born 2,000 years ago if he is not born now in your heart?"
(Meister Eckhart)

This Sunday marks the third week of Advent. For much of the Christian Church’s history, it’s had a special name: “Gaudete Sunday". The traditions surrounding this Sunday go back as far as the 4th or 5th centuries, as does the Season of Advent itself. Advent, our preparation for Christmas, was originally a forty day penitential season, like Lent, something I only recently became aware of. “Gaudete Sunday” was the Advent counterpart to “ Laetrile Sunday,” which marked the mid-point in Lent.
On Gaudete Sunday, Advent shifts its focus, marked by a lighter mood and a heightened sense of joyous anticipation. The liturgical colours lighten as well. The priest usually wears rose-pink vestments, seen only on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays. On this day, we light the third candle of the Advent wreath, which is also rose-coloured, rather than purple.
The word “Gaudete” is Latin for “Rejoice.” In times such as these when the news is so grim, we might wonder where on earth, or elsewhere, God is. I hope we can still stop, in the midst of the trauma of late Christmas shopping and trying to work extra hours and the seasonal extended family complications, to take a breath and draw some comfort and peace from the simplicity of the first Christmas. Time to remember what a "gift" really is: what giving really implies; the huge part of receiving that is acceptance; that we can give and receive with good grace.

See, still there x

     "Gaudete" Steeleye Span

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