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4th Sunday of Advent 2011 WeeklyGospelVideos on Dec 15, 2011 Luke 1:26-38 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of …More
4th Sunday of Advent 2011

WeeklyGospelVideos on Dec 15, 2011 Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
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The Angels of Advent by Father Dwight Longenecker, Register correspondentMonday, Dec 12, 2011 12:55 PM Comments (7)
I was on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and was just about to celebrate Mass with a few friends in the little chapel overlooking the Sea of Galilee, when two middle-aged English women came hurrying up to join me. “This is Edith,” said one with a heavy Liverpool accent. “She can see …More
The Angels of Advent by Father Dwight Longenecker, Register correspondentMonday, Dec 12, 2011 12:55 PM Comments (7)
I was on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and was just about to celebrate Mass with a few friends in the little chapel overlooking the Sea of Galilee, when two middle-aged English women came hurrying up to join me. “This is Edith,” said one with a heavy Liverpool accent. “She can see angels.”
After Mass they took me out to lunch and told me a whole collection of delightful angel stories. Edith had seen a healing angel in the hospital. She’d seen the guardian angels of children. She dialogued with her guardian angel regularly and often looked out her kitchen window to see representatives of the heavenly host going about their business.
A rationalist skeptic would have written off Edith as a harmless eccentric at best and a poor, insane, religious kook at worst. I’m happen to believe that what we consider “reality” (the day-to-day physical world) to be somewhat spongy. That is to say, it is far more flexible and porous than we would like to believe. I believe the spiritual, invisible realm interacts with this physical, visible realm all the time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some folks — like Edith — who can see what’s going on.
The Scriptures speak of angelic appearances in a matter-of-fact way. Like Edith, the authors of the Bible assume that angels exist and don’t mind telling stories of their interactions with people on earth. Angels are God’s messengers, and there are four particular angel encounters that can inspire and enlighten our Advent.
St. Michael the Archangel is the first angel of Advent. We meet Michael in the Book of Daniel. He is the princely patron and advocate angel of the people of Israel, and in the Book of Revelation, we’re told that there was “war in heaven” and Michael and his angels fought the great dragon. Because of his role as protector of God’s people, he is seen as a great warrior against Satan, and at the point of death, ancient Church teaching says, Michael meets the departing soul and is his advocate before Christ, the great Judge. So we see Michael pictures in armor trampling down Satan or with scales, indicating his role as an advocate for justice and peace.
Advent is a time when we’re reminded of the four last things — death, judgment, hell and heaven. So, as an angel of Advent, Michael reminds of these four last things. He reminds us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. There are ranks of angels and demons called principalities and powers, and as St. Paul writes in Ephesians, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” In this battle Michael fights by our side so that, as St. Paul writes to the Romans, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come will be able to separate us from the love of Christ.”
The second angel of Advent is the angel that comes to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Zechariah was taking his turn to minister as a priest in the Temple when the angel appeared to him and announced that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son, despite their advanced years. Zechariah doubted the truth of the message and asked for a sign. The sign he was given was that he was struck dumb until John the Baptist was born. St. Michael reminds us that we are caught up in a spiritual battle, while the second angel of Advent encourages us to have faith.
Zechariah may have doubted the angel’s word, but the experience strengthened his faith. He went on to believe fully and uttered the magnificent words of the Benedictus which look forward to Christ’s coming: “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness.” Because of his renewed faith, Zechariah entered the spiritual battle with renewed zeal, and an ancient Church tradition suggests that he may have been the Zechariah who met a martyr’s death (Matthew 25:23) because he refused to tell Herod’s murderous soldiers the whereabouts of the Christ Child.
The third Advent angel is the heavenly messenger to St. Joseph. Joseph was betrothed to Mary when it was discovered that she was pregnant. St. Joseph was going to divorce her quietly, but the angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. This third Advent angel who came to Joseph gives us a third word of encouragement for the spiritual battle: “Be not afraid.”
Jewish law dictated that a girl who became pregnant outside of marriage could be stoned to death. St. Joseph was a just and honorable man. He had every reason to fear — not only for Mary, but also for his own fate. If the girl was pregnant, as her betrothed, he was the obvious culprit. To marry her would be an admission of guilt. This honorable man would have to live the rest of his life under the cloud of a bad reputation. But he heard the angel’s word — “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” — and responded immediately with courage and fortitude.
The fourth Advent angel is Gabriel, who appears to the Blessed Virgin. Mary’s simple response to God’s invitation is the climax of the angel messages. At the Annunciation, the three previous messages come together as one. The Blessed Virgin realizes she is part of a spiritual battle. She hears the words of the angel — “Do not be afraid” and “With God all things are possible” — and her response is one of instant obedience, which requires faith and courage.
If we are to be caught up in the drama of Advent, then we too will hear these four angelic messages. First, with St. Michael, we will realize again that as children of God we are engaged in a spiritual combat. Second, with Zecharias, we will respond with faith. Third, with St. Joseph, we add courage to our faith. Fourth, knowing that “with God all things are possible,” we will respond with the Blessed Virgin in a life of loving and joyful obedience to God’s will.
Father Dwight Longenecker

is the pastor of Our Lady
of the Rosary Parish in
Greenville, South Carolina.
Read more of his writing at
DwightLongenecker.com.

Read more: www.ncregister.com/…/the-angels-of-a…
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December 18, 2011
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Father Robert DeCesare, LC

Listen to the podcast version here.
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled …More
December 18, 2011
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Father Robert DeCesare, LC

Listen to the podcast version here.
Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I know by faith that these are some of the most important moments of my day. I freely open my mind, heart and will for you to do as you please, because I know you can desire and do only what is good for me. I know that you will give me the grace to do whatever you ask of me and that you will always accompany me. That is enough for me.
Petition: Lord, give me the grace to do your holy will.
1. Pleasing God through the Small, Daily Tasks
The angel Gabriel finds Mary doing nothing extraordinary, but rather doing ordinary tasks like washing clothes, sweeping, getting water, doing the same daily prayer as every devout Jew. But in doing the ordinary she is doing what is pleasing to God. Her example should be our guide. Work can be an ordinary means of holiness. Man, as John Paul II said, “not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being’” (Laborem Exercens, no. 9). We please God when we do our duties, fulfill our responsibilities, work to meet our basic needs. While we may not be doing something extraordinary at every moment, we still praise and glorify God when we undertake the ordinary with love. If an angel were to come looking for me, would he find me doing my daily tasks lovingly?
2. “Do Not Be Afraid”
Mary “was greatly troubled and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” When God presents us with his plan, we too might be afraid. We may not fully understand what he has in mind. It can seem that his plan is too great for us. But when God wants something from us, he shows us that it is not beyond our reach. As with Mary at the Incarnation, God will make it happen and will provide all the grace necessary for its completion.
3. “May It Be Done to Me According to Your Word”
When Gabriel clarifies Mary’s mission and illustrates that with God all things are possible, Mary makes an act of faith. Her act of faith is what the Second Vatican Council terms the “obedience of faith.” ‘The obedience of faith’ ‘is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him” (Dei Verbum, 5). God supplied Mary with his grace and did not abandon her; nor will he abandon us. When we do what God wants and cooperate with his plan, he will support us. He will accompany us as we carry out his will and bring his plan to fulfillment. God’s will is our holiness, and when we do his will we help God to make us saints.
Conversation with Mary: Mary, teach me how to do God’s will as you did, so that I can remain in his company. I want to do his will, even though at times I know that it may seem difficult or impossible. Ask your son for the grace of perseverance for me so that I, too, may cooperate with the Lord, whether he is asking something of me that is ordinary or extraordinary.
Resolution: In a difficult situation, I will pray a “Hail Mary,” asking Mary for help in being faithful.

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