Monday, November 27, 2006

Watching and Waiting

Advent is a time for spiritual vigilance (the Advent fast begins in the Byzantine tradition on November 15), so we’re going to do some serious watching and waiting this week, with our annual Advent silent retreat. So I’ll not be blogging this week, but I’ll be back on the weekend. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a brief reflection by Cardinal Newman on watching and waiting for the Lord. Let us pray for each other!

“Our Saviour gave this warning when He was leaving this world—leaving it, that is, as far as His visible presence is concerned. He looked forward to the many hundred years which were to pass before He came again. He knew His own purpose and His Father's purpose gradually to leave the world to itself, gradually to withdraw from it the tokens of His gracious presence. He contemplated, as contemplating all things, the neglect of Him which would spread even among his professed followers… He foresaw the state of the world and the Church, as we see it this day, when His prolonged absence has made it practically thought that He never will come back…

“He mercifully whispers into our ears, not to trust in what we see, not to share in that general unbelief, not to be carried away by the world, but to ‘take heed, watch, pray,’ and look out for His coming. Surely this gracious warning should be ever in our thoughts, being so precise, so solemn, so earnest.

“He foretold His first coming, yet He took His Church by surprise when He came; much more will He come suddenly the second time, and overtake men, now that He has not measured out the interval before it, as then He did, but left our watchfulness to the keeping of faith and love… We are not simply to believe, but to watch; not simply to love, but to watch; not simply to obey, but to watch; to watch for what? For that great event, Christ's coming…” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, Volume 4, #22).