A Note From Fr. Derek

It is hard to believe that next week we begin the season of Advent.  Advent is a time of preparation, a time of making space to receive the Lord Jesus anew into our hearts.  Caryll Houselander, a 20th century English artist, mystic, writer and poet commented in her book The Reed of God (a great read for Advent!) about the “purposeful emptiness” of the mind and heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary which provided the opportunity for her great, “Yes,” to God in accepting the gift of the Incarnation of the Son in her womb.  Houselander notes, “It is not a formless emptiness, a void without meaning; on the contrary it has a shape, a form given to it by the purpose for which it is intended.”

This emptiness is contrary to the emptiness about which so many complain in our world today.  Houselander goes on to propose that the problem is that our lives are not empty enough, they are filled with trivial details, plans, ambitions, cravings for things that are passing, anxieties, fears and other things.  There is a need for us, in our lives, especially at this time of the year, to allow space and silence to have a part in our lives.

While Advent is a time to prepare for Christmas, it is important to prepare for Advent as well.  We might ask ourselves now, “How might I generate some emptiness in my life that can be filled anew with the goodness of Christ at Christmas?”  Perhaps it is by taking some additional time in prayer.  Perhaps by turning off the radio so that I’m not saturated with Christmas songs by the time Christmas actually gets here, and spend some time in the car in silence.

One of the things I have asked our musicians to do at Mass is to plan to allow a little more purposeful emptiness at Mass during the season of Advent.  This may take the form, at varying times, as some more profound pauses or not having a meditation hymn after Communion.  I wanted to tell you about this before hand for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I don’t want you to think our musicians are shirking their responsibilities.  But most importantly, in a world where noise is the norm, we can, at times, be uncomfortable with silence.  When it is quiet, we might think that something is wrong, that someone has forgotten to do something.  Rather, enjoy the silence and allow the Lord to speak to you in the emptiness.

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