Gaudete! Rejoice! The Lord is near! As we continue to approach close to the Feast of the Nativity, we are told today to rejoice. We may think that today’s celebration of the joy that is about to manifest in our souls on Christmas Day may be all about the opportunity to indulge in a treat, lack our time of prayer, and become occupied with worldly things. However, this is not so! St. Paul continues in his Epistle to the Phillipians, “Let your modesty be known to all men: The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.”
Gaudete Sunday does not mark an end to our Advent penance, but rather calls on us to increase our penance and our prayer. Many have forgotten that Advent is a penitential season, but it very well is. This has been echoed in the previous reflections published this season. Evan remarked on how we should increase our prayer, especially with the praying of the Holy Rosary. And Jacob reminded us to repent of our sins and grow in humility. Later this week the Church will commence the St. Lucy Ember Days, read more here, in which we fast and take up penance to remind us that we are children of God, not of the world. Each of these are in themselves the purpose of the season of Advent.
Our desire should be on this Gaudete Sunday to journey with Mary and St. Joseph to Bethlehem. We should increase our prayer, by praying the Rosary, meditating on Sacred Scriptures (especially that Nativity Narratives), confessing our sins, and taking on ourselves penance for our sins and those of the world. Christ is calling us to increase, not decrease in Him. We must not rejoice in worldly things, but rather in our sacrifices to the Lord.
No matter if you have journeyed through this Advent season by completing acts of penance, charity, and prayer or not, begin now! If you begin to spiritually prepare yourself for the coming of Christ on Christmas, you truly will be more joyful. I promise.
Reflection written by Seth Ball