Living Advent

Rome . . . the “Eternal City,” the Caput Mundi (the “capital of the world”);

The city of Romulus and Remus, of the Caesars and Nero;

The city that gave its name to one of the most sustained periods of peace the world has ever known, the Pax Romana; the seat of government over the most extensive, unified empire ever;

Rome . . . whose edicts could summon Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the nativity of their firstborn, Jesus, and whose appointed governor, Pontius Pilate, would sentence Him to death on a cross thirty-three years later;

Rome . . . the roads, language, and law allowed the apostles to spread the message of Jesus and His Church, bringing Peter and Paul to the Tiber;

Rome . . . whose emperor would crucify Peter upside-down and behead Paul, and unleash three centuries of persecution of the Church founded by Christ;

Rome . . . whose emperor, Constantine, would finally not only tolerate the Church but allow it to become the cohesive influence holding his crumbling empire together;

Rome . . . whose bishop, the successor of its first, Saint Peter, would become the unifying force in the western world upon the collapse of the ancient empire, giving civilization learning, science, art, music, charity, health care, schools and university — a culture drawing people to God.

Rome . . . here I am this Thanksgiving, in company with my brother bishops of the state of New York, on, as required every five years by canon law, our ad limina (“to the threshold”) visit, to the tombs of the two founders of the Church of Rome, Peter and Paul.

Rome . . . a city that always seems to reflect the best and the worst in our human drama.

Even the empire brought, admittedly, law, peace, justice, security, and unity, all the good; but it also gave us violence, oppression, brutality, war, slavery.

So the church in Rome brought Jesus and His message to the world, giving us peace, human dignity, compassion, education, charity, culture, and saints; but it also on occasion showed corruption, vice, immorality and scandal.

Rome . . . it seems, with this Sunday opening the new Church year in view, to be an advent:  God always lurking there, on the doorstep, wanting us to invite Him in.

Rome . . . the city gives us hints of God’s presence: maybe in the medieval images of the Madonna on nearly every corner; or perhaps in the ubiquitous ancient churches built over the places where the first Christians quietly gathered for prayer, Mass, and community; in the catacombs where those martyred were buried; in the shrines of saints who have walked Rome’s alleys; in the candles, incense, art, and family celebrations with abundant food, wine, and song at baptisms, confirmations, first communions, weddings, and feast days.

Rome . . . the city is a living advent, with the Lord usually “just around the corner,” hidden, unexpected, lurking, giving us hints, obscured, at times, by earthiness and mustiness

. . . always waiting for us to discover Him anew.

Rome . . . the Lord is there in the city’s bishop, the successor of Saint Peter, our Holy Father, the Pope.

Benedict XVI is an advent, as we sense in him a hint of the Lord’s “coming” to His Church.

Maybe, on second thought, Rome is not that bad of a place to be for Thanksgiving!

It’s certainly a good place to be as Advent begins this Sunday!


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3 Responses to “Living Advent”

  1. Mary says:

    It was reported today that Pope Benedict offered this to the visiting US bishops: “The seriousness of the challenges which the Church in America, under your leadership, is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated.”

    And also today Cardinal Burke said he thinks “We’re well on the way” to Christian persecution in the US.

    In April 2008, Holy Father traveled to the US with the theme: Christ our Hope. In November 2008 54% of US Catholics voted for a politician who claimed he was their hope.

    Will history repeat itself in 2012? Has the American church learned anything? Will the Church heed our Holy Father’s words? Will we engage the enemies of our Church both inside and out? The Church is on the brink? Will you talk to us about it? Will you shepherd us? Will you show us that you are not afraid of the persecution? For you and all the bishops I pray.

  2. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    I’m beginning to notice that there are fewer and fewer respondants to this blog. There are so many people out here who are Traditionalists, those who would stand with you through the coming persecution.

    Make no mistake, the persecutions are coming. There was a time when The Church did not have to go grovelling before a President and beg for conscience clauses, a President who is so anti catholic that everyone sees it but our cowardly leaders who fear government more than they fear our Creator.

    I, myself have written to this blog in the hope of trying to influence the Archbishop about what is going on out here in the Traditionlaist camp, that is until a female friend of mine said to me “Forget it, he’s one of them.”

    Yes, Archbishop, you are “one of them.” Your disdain for the Tridentine Mass is clue number one. Your preaching to “fallen away Catholics” only, and shying away from prosyletizing other groups is another.

    “Dialoging” with people who have nothing but disdain for the Catholic faith is another clue.

    There are very few today who can claim invincible ignorance and our AM Church’s attitude that Paradise is open to all no matter what is killing the faith.

    I have no doubt that this post will never see the light of day on this blog but I pray that this post will at least ride the wings of angels and work their way to our leaders before they are unceremoniously deleted.

    I beg you Archbishop, lose the politician and reclaim your office of shepherd. The government is not your ally – we are.

  3. Larry says:

    I feel compelled to add my voice in complete agreement to what AndyP/Doria2 has said above (December 2, 6:34 p.m. post.) The Archbishop appears to lack, not orthodoxy per se, but instead the kind of sustained focus and urgency in confronting the moral bankruptcy within both society and the Church “faithful” as is called for by the situation–a sustained focus and urgency which, by the way, would ALSO demand that he refrain from distractions such as involvement in prudential political matters. Enough said.