The mystery of Christmas is not a reality outside of you. It is realized only if it becomes a reality within you. Mary and Joseph sought shelter. And the King of Kings was satisfied with a poor stable and manger meant for cattle. Is there a shelter for him within you—he doesn’t ask for much—or are you so preoccupied with your own that there is no room for him? If you let Jesus be born in you, you become a messenger of love. Then you will no longer do anything just for your own sake. Everything will be inspired by Love. If you continually make a home for him in your heart, he will continually become visible in and through you. As he is ceaselessly born of the Father, he will ceaselessly be born in you. Do not think that you must have something big and magnificent to offer him. It is his presence that makes your poverty shine with divine light. He is most comfortable in the simple and unassuming, if only the door is opened to him.
~ A Christmas meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
During Advent you may be looking forward to all the beautiful experiences of Christmas. But Advent is not meant as a waiting period for this. Rather, you are awaiting someone who will come closer to you than you are to yourself. Advent is like a portal you have to walk through to enter the sanctuary of Christmas. The portal is flanked by two figures who guard the sanctuary and ask you why you want to enter, and at the same time teach you how to do it. Both figures are very dissimilar. One is big and strong, a man clothed in camels’ hair. But in spite of his size, this man wants only to be a voice calling out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” The other is a vulnerable woman expecting a child. She doesn’t cry out, she is silent, total attention to what is happening within her. The only thing she quietly whispers is: “I am the servant of the Lord.” They both know who they are waiting for. They are not awaiting better times, or nicer experiences. They are waiting for God, and they know that nothing can hinder his arrival if they are open to receive him. If you also know who you are waiting for, if you are sure about his arrival, then you are celebrating Advent in the proper way.
~ An Advent meditation By Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
Painting of St. John of the Cross by Céline Martin “This was requested of me by the Carmel, as he was known. I focused on creating a strong contrast with the cross.” Céline’s note. (taken from the Archives du Carmel de Lisieux)
Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.
1. O living flame of love that tenderly wounds my soul in its deepest center! Since now you are not oppressive, now consummate! if it be your will: tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
2. O sweet cautery, O delightful wound! O gentle hand! O delicate touch that tastes of eternal life and pays every debt! In killing you changed death to life.
3. O lamps of fire! in whose splendors the deep caverns of feeling, once obscure and blind, now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely, both warmth and light to their Beloved.
4. How gently and lovingly you wake in my heart, where in secret you dwell alone; and in your sweet breathing, filled with good and glory, how tenderly you swell my heart with love.