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Looking for the Lord: At the End of Time & Today - Notes (Nov 21st)

posted Nov 22, 2017, 5:50 PM by U of C Catholic Community   [ updated Nov 25, 2017, 4:17 PM ]
Pre-Advent Retreat: "People Look East" by Fr. Cristino-Bouvette
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 

"Looking for the Lord: At the End of Time & Today" 
[As there was no recording or transcription, the following has been paraphrased from shorthand notes. We hope the underlying message has been preserved.]

It is usually the case that whenever we start anything, we weren't even ready to begin. Preparation for advent deems us suitable to begin. Ask yourself: Am I ready for Christmas? What does Christmas mean? What is the purpose of Christmas?

All too often, we get lost in the decorating, the party-planning, the gift-giving and festivities, but what is Christmas? It is the Son of God's most important work: to come. And it means He will come again. Christmas means getting ourselves ready for the end. Advent, therefore, is meant to begin to get ready to end.

There are two ways to end. Individually, we might pass on before our loved ones and time will continue without us. Collectively, it means we will behold the Son of Man's coming. Jesus comes to us in the sacrament of Adoration to remind us of this glory. That it is the rendering of his flesh and the pouring of his blood that saves us. And it may be unpleasant to some, but it is only unpleasant to think of these if we lack faith.

After contemplating these finalities of death and the End, Paul says, "Remember brothers, that it has been written, 'Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him.'" This means we prepare ourselves to finish simply so that we can begin again. This life trains and prepares us for The Beginning that will have no end.

Similarly, baptism is the death of our original sin. A birth into God's grace and fullness of life. In confession, we die to ourselves to begin anew. These sacraments are cyclical death and renewal. 

In this season of Advent, we are reminded of beginning and ending, but the danger is remembering one only to forget the other. By focusing on starting things anew, we often forget the lessons we've learnt. By focusing on getting things done, we are surviving, not living. He came so that we may live to the fullest, not merely so that we may survive. We begin so that we may end, and we end so that we may contemplate Christ's mission on earth. When they are understood together, we begin to look in one direction.

Notice how, in mass, the priest and congregation look up at the alter as one? We are looking in the same direction. The danger in this life is to be like a compass without a destination, pointing in all directions with no idea where we are going. Ask yourself: Am I looking in one direction, or am I looking in all of them?

Remind yourself to look in one direction. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord. The Eucharist is about together looking in one direction. We are looking towards the rising Son/sun (in either sense of the word; the Son rising from the dead, or the sun, rising in the east). That's the title of the mission: people look east. As we do, we await the Son to rise above our darkness and show Himself to us in a new and glorious way. Christ comes into our midst to scatter our darkness by that light that comes forth from Him.

Sr. Ronald Knox said, "The Christian who gets a good sleep at night is well-prepared for his death; for every night is a dress rehearsal for our deaths."

We prepare best for our final death by living each and every one of those days with that in mind.

[Fr. Cristino used to pray before bed:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray, the Lord, my soul to keep,
And if I should die before I wake,
I pray, the Lord, my soul to take. ]

This shows good preparation and it points you in the right direction. We are not taking it upon ourselves but also not running away in denial that it'll happen. Ask yourself: In which direction did I point today, Lord? How often did you cross my mind and leave my lips? I pray everyday to love you better and to love you more.

Everyday can be a mini-advent, helping us to live better and more fully the next day. Ask: Am I beginning each and every day to love You better? 

For the soul that is in Love, everyday is not enough.

Thank you Fr. Cristino for your empowering message.
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