Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Third (Gaudéte) Sunday of Advent--15 December AD 2013--At Deerfield Beach

“Let your moderation be known to all men.”[1]

The Mass in Latin and English
Third Sunday of Advent
Dominica Tertia Adventus

Ember Days in Advent


    I have a friend who has spent a large part of his nursing career in psychiatric nursing.  In the psychiatric ward or in a psychiatric hospital, the doctors are (among other things) responsible for determining if a patient is capable of living with other people in society, or if he must be kept in confinement.  They use a variety of methods for making this determination, but my friend tells me that “if you have a patient with no sense of humor at all, there is a very good chance that you are dealing with a crazy person.”

    Not everyone is good at telling jokes, he says, but most normal people laugh at them—and even more importantly, they can laugh at their own situation.  Even those that are in pain or who have just suffered a serious personal loss can usually manage a little bit of a laugh here and there.  A normal person can usually see both the good and the bad in his own situation, and can grasp the incongruity between the two—and incongruity is the stuff that humor is made of (a pie in someone's face is much more funny if they are wearing a full dress suit or a ball gown than if they are wearing shorts and a tee-shirt).

    And, it is precisely this ability of the normal person to see both good and bad in his life that makes him able to deal with reality.  He doesn't dwell on one to the exclusion of the other, but deals with his entire existence.  By noting both extremes in his life he is able to plot a course of moderation.

    Now all of the virtues can be thought of in terms of moderation—of selecting the “middle way” between extremes—choosing the “via media” between excess and deficiency.  Today, Saint Paul is urging the moderation which brings the “peace of God.”   We can hear him urging moderation in the use of worldly things—things like food and drink and entertainment—for after all this is the penitential season of Advent.  But we also hear him urging us to “rejoice in the Lord always,” for as Christians we are graced with the virtue of hope; the virtue that helps us find the “middle way” between presumption and despair;  the virtue that enables us to recognize God's merciful love together with His justice.  We must not presume on God's mercy, expecting Him to save us no matter how we ignore Him or break His commandments—but neither should we despair, and go about with the false notion that salvation is impossible no matter how hard we try.  “Have no anxiety,” he says.  Conduct your lives like sane men and women, “let your moderation be made known to all men,” and “rejoice in the Lord always.”

    The Gospel treats of another virtue, perhaps the most important after faith, hope, and charity.  It speaks of humility.    The leaders of the Jews sent the priests and levites to John the Baptist to find out who he was.  Clearly, they suspected that he was someone very important in the scheme of our Redemption:  Was he, perhaps, the Christ, or Elias, or some other important prophet?[2]  Given their frame of mind, John could easily have made himself out to be a very important person.  Had he dealt with them arrogantly, he might have been able to have good treatment from them indeed.

    But John possessed humility:  he knew what he was, as well as what he was not.  He was not the Christ, not Elias, not Isaias nor any of the other prophets of old.  But then, again, he was not a nobody—he knew that he was “more than a prophet.”[3]   John possessed that gift of true humility that grounds a man in reality;  not making himself out to be more than he is, but also not denying what he is, and also accepting the responsibilities that go along with being whatever he is.  For humility, like all of the other virtues, must seek that middle ground of sanity.

    Today is “Gaudete” Sunday.  so called because the Mass opens with those words from Saint Paul's epistle that urge us to “rejoice in the Lord always”  “Gaudete” means “Rejoice.”  The color of the vestments, the flowers on the altar, the tones of the organ playing are all meant to be signs that we have reached the halfway point in our Advent season.  We take a little bit of a break in our Advent observance, and then we get back to it.

    But let us go back to it with the intention of meditating on these two key virtues as we prepare for Christmas:  moderation and humility.  Always seek the middle ground of sanity between excess and deficiency.  Never pretend to be any more than what you are, nor any less.   "Let your moderation be known to all men Á have no anxiety Á the Lord is near.


[1]   .  Epistle:  Philippians iv: 4-7.


Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!