The Reception

Staring contest

Staring contest

A moderate rain all morning should have given us our white Christmas but for the temperature being 39+ degrees. It did get cold enough to provide some wet snowflakes as I was exiting the Pink Sisters chapel today where I’d listened and prayed with the cloistered sisters as they sang Midday Prayers. Last year on a day much like today a squirrel eyed me cautiously from a tree, and today another squirrel did the same as I caught him foraging for nuts in the wet, snowy grass as I walked back into the cold. He scaled the tree and chirked at me, but only a little. I wonder if it was the same little guy?

I have to be honest: this year marks the coldest, driest, emptiest Advent heading into Christmas that I can remember. I just have not been able to “get into the spirit” at all this year. But sitting in the darkened chapel today and praying the psalms of this morning’s Office of Readings began to thaw me out a bit. There’s still time, and I’ve plans for Midnight Mass this year since we’ll be home this Christmas instead of on the road. The five block walk home afterwards, while crisp, is always my favorite walk of the year.

The second reading in today’s Office of Readings from the Divine Office comes from a treatise against the heresy of Noetus by Saint Hippolytus. It’s a mini-lesson on the Holy Trinity and as we approach Christmas tells of the Word entering His creation in the flesh.

The last line is one of the saddest ever written.


The manifestation of the hidden mystery

There is only one God, brethren, and we learn about him only from sacred Scripture. It is therefore our duty to become acquainted with what Scripture proclaims and to investigate its teachings thoroughly. We should believe them in the sense that the Father wills, thinking of the Son in the way the Father wills, and accepting the teaching he wills to give us with regard to the Holy Spirit. Sacred Scripture is God’s gift to us and it should be understood in the way that he intends: we should not do violence to it by interpreting it according to our own preconceived ideas.

God was all alone and nothing existed but himself when he determined to create the world. He thought of it, willed it, spoke the word and so made it. It came into being instantaneously, exactly as he had willed. It is enough then for us to be aware of a single fact: nothing is coeternal with God. Apart from God there was simply nothing else. Yet although he was alone, he was manifold because he lacked neither reason, wisdom, power, nor counsel. All things were in him and he himself was all. At a moment of his own choosing and in a manner determined by himself, God manifested his Word, and through him he made the whole universe.

When the Word was hidden within God himself he was invisible to the created world, but God made him visible. First God gave utterance to his voice, engendering light from light, and then he sent his own mind into the world as its Lord. Visible before to God alone and not to the world, God made him visible so that the world could be saved by seeing him. This mind that entered our world was made known as the Son of God. All things came into being through him; but he alone is begotten by the Father.

The Son gave us the law and the prophets, and he filled the prophets with the Holy Spirit to compel them to speak out. Inspired by the Father’s power, they were to proclaim the Father’s purpose and his will.

So the Word was made manifest, as Saint John declares when, summing up all the sayings of the prophets, he announces that this is the Word through whom the whole universe was made. He says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things came into being; not one thing was created without him. And further on he adds: The world was made through him, and yet the world did not know him. He entered his own creation, and his own did not receive him.

Left: “Nativity: Birth of Jesus” (1306); right: “The Road to Calvary” (1305), both by Giotto.

Left: “Nativity: Birth of Jesus” (1306); right: “The Road to Calvary” (1305), both by Giotto.


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