CATHOLIC WOMEN’S LEAGUE (CWL) ADVENT RECOLLECTION

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The Catholic Women’s League (CWL) held its yearly advent recollection with Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM as facilitator. Fr. Robert spoke on advent spirituality to the CWL members, and reminded them that the spirit of advent helps us to live a Christ-like life and to share with others the Christ we have received. Fr. Robert explained that the advent spirit is a contemplative spirit. Seeing God in all things and seeing all things in God.

Fr. Robert also said that advent is a sense of joy. Joy is never received directly, it is a by-product of a deep relationship with God. When we are most true to ourselves, when we are most loving, we then experience glimpses of joy.

The recollection ended on a note from The Joy of the Gospel: The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.

November 18, 2014
Theme: Advent Spirituality
Facilitated by Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM

• Advent is Adventus. This means Coming.
• The season of advent is 4 weeks. It is a time of expectant waiting. and preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas.
• Plarousia is at the end of time, all will be transformed by God.
• Advent is the waiting of Christians for Christ’s coming.
• Mother Mary is the model disciple.
• There are three types of the coming of Our Lord:
1. Historical coming of Jesus.
2. Second coming of Jesus at the end of time to judge the living and the dead.
3. Different comings of Jesus in between: Incarnation and parousia by the power of the Holy Spirit; in the sacraments, scriptures, prayer.
 In the events of ourlives, in the church, in society, in the person and lives of the poor.
• “God is at home, it’s me who has gone out for a walk.” (Meister Eckhart, Dominican mystic)
• “Advent means a heart that is ready and awake.” (Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ., priest, , outspoken critic of the Nazi regime who was martyred in a concentration camp in 1945.)
• The starting point – we are already intimately connected with God.
• The advent spirit is to celebrate Christmas more meaningfully so that we receive Christ more and more in our hearts, in our lives, in our families and in our society.
• The spirit of advent helps us to have a Christ-like life and to share with others the Christ we have received. (Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM homily, 1st Sunday of advent, Dec. 26, 2011)
• The advent spirit is about meeting Christ in the sacraments and in the scriptures and in the many other ways through which he comes to us.
• The advent spirit is a contemplative spirit. “Seeing God in all things” and “Seeing all things in God.”
• You can experience a great sense of joy even in the midst of much trouble if we know God is with us.
• The more we receive Christ, the light of the world, the more we become a light to the world.
• Only God can satisfy the vacuum in our hearts.
• Advent is a sense of joy.
• “A sad saint is a bad saint.” (St. Francis of Assisi)
• “A sense of joy is a hallmark of holiness.”
• You experience joy if you truly experience God in your lives.
• When we are most true to ourselves, when we are most loving, we experience glimpses of joy.
• Real joy is never received directly; it is a by-product of a deep relationship with God.
• Joy = Jesus – others – yourself.
• Fear, worry, anxiety – are all forms of atheism.
• Let Go, Let God.
• The mystic spirit/heart is a lived experiential awareness of God’s uniting and transforming presence, immediacy and intimacy.
• “Advent is a time of being deeply shaken, so that man will wake up to himself…The shaking is what sets up the secret blessedness of this Season and enkindles the inner light in our hears, so advent will be blessed with the promise of the Lord. The shaking, the awakening: with these, life merely begins to become capable of Advent…that the golden threads running during the season may reach us.” (Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ)
• Three advent figures: (1) John the Baptist – “The voice calling in the wilderness.” (2) Archangel Gabriel – “The angel of the Annunciation.” (3) The Blessed Mother – “A heart ready for the word to become flesh.”
• From acquiring advent spirit to becoming advent people – “Our hearts must be keenly alert for opportunities in our own little corners of daily life. May we stand in this world not as people in hiding, but as those who help prepare the way of the only-begotten Song of God.” (Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ)
• Advent wreath/candles: “Light the candles wherever you can, you who have them. They are a real symbol of what must happen in advent, what advent must be, if we want to live.” (Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ)
• “This is a peaceful, reticent, but constant shining. This is giving light at the cost of one’s own substance, so that one is consumed in the process. Anyone who wants to comprehend Christ’s message of light…must comprehend this one thing: the mission, the duty to shine, to draw others, to seek, to heal, to do good at the cost of one’s substance…(Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ. Feb. 2, 1941)
• From advent spirit to advent people to advent life: “All of life is advent” (Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ)
• “The entire life is a spiritual journey.”
• “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” St. Augustine
• Joy: St. Paul – To rejoice in the Lord always in the midst of tribulations. (Phil 4:4)
• Joy – more than a feeling state or a mere heightened sense of pleasure. In Christian life it refers to a basic disposition and a fundamental attunement to the self-giving of God in Jesus Christ.
• To rejoice in the midst of suffering puts a strain on our ordinary conception of joy and enjoyment.
• The peculiar object of joy in scripture and church tradition – the revelation of God in Jesus.
• Joy is the ingredient in the very pattern of life constituted by trust in God, in, with, and through Jesus Christ. Every activity and relationship in the service of God and neighbors shares in a joyful quality.
• Serving the neighbor becomes an “enjoyment,” one of the chief ends of human existence.
• Joy is not contingent upon fortune, good or bad, but is grounded in faith that God is creator and redeemer of the world.
• In sum, joy occupies a central place among the Christian affections, yet is also characteristic of all activities begun and completed in faith.
• While ecstatic states of joy may be sought after and experienced from time to time, the principal aim of the Christian life is to serve God and neighbor joyfully. In the spiritual life, God is the supreme joy and the greatest delight.
• Third Sunday of Advent has been traditionally called Gaudete Sunday because the first word of the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass is Gaudete, the Latin word for “Rejoice.”
• The opening prayer asks us to “experience the joy of salvation.”
• The alternative opening prayer asks God to “remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which Christ’s presence bestows.”
• Third Sunday of Advent, it would be a good thing to reflect on what “hinders us from feeling joy and hope.”
• Many specialists of the human heart tell us that the enemies of joy are fear, worry and anxiety.
• Ann Landers, a well-known newspaper editor with a decade old advice column in the Washington Post received an average of ten thousand letters every month. She said that in those letters, the predominant problem were fear, worry and anxiety.
• Charles Swindoll (Laugh Again): “Of all the joy stealers that can plague our lives, none is more nagging, more agitating, or more prevalent than worry.”
• Swindoll: “ We get our English word worry from the German wurgen, which means ‘to strangle, to choke.” Our Lord mentioned that very word on one occasion, ‘The sower sows the seed and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word and it becomes unfruitful.’ (Mk. 4:1 4-19)
• In a nutshell, when worry strangles our thinking, choking out the truth, we become unfruitful and unproductive. Along with becoming harassed mentally and paralyzed emotionally, we find ourselves throttled spiritually. Worry cuts off our motivaton, inspiration and sense of joy.
• John O’Brian (The Art of Courageous Living): “Worry is debilitating. Fear paralyzes the springs of action. The need for a remedy that will release soul and body from the grip of these twin evils is the paramount need of our day.”
• Luke 12:22-34 (Do Not Worry) 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no store room or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin, yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one o these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.
• 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you
the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
• The First Reading tells us that we can rejoice heartily when “the spirit of the Lord is upon us” (Is 61:1) because God is the joy of our souls.
• In the Gospel, we have a glimpse of joy in the life and example of John the Baptist. John the Baptist is the one who knows his identity and mission before God; he knows he is not the Messiah; neither is he Elijah. He is the voice crying out for the coming of the Messiah. When we know who we are before God, when we know our identity and place in the world, when we know and do what God wants us to do with our lives, then we find real joy ad happiness.
• True joy is a by-product of having a deep relationship with God and Jesus. It is a by-product of making Jesus the center of who we are, of what we do, of what we have, and of all our relationships, endeavors, and plans. Joy is found in living a holy and loving life. It is found in love, simplicity, innocence, trust, service of God and of others. It is found in losing ourselves in Christ and others.
• Did not Jesus Christ say that the person who loses his life, because of the love he has for Christ, will find it? (cf. Mt 16:25; Lk 17:33) Joy and its increase in our hearts come directly from Jesus Christ, working through the Holy Spirit, His first gift to those who believe in Him. On the night before He offered His life for us, He said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:11) Joy is a by-product and not something that we pursue directly. It is a God-given gift.
• “If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great…Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and He gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.” (Pope Benedict XVI, April 24, 2005)
• “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew. “ (The Joy of the Gospel)

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