Hymn for Advent
The Lord is come! Dull hearts to wake,
He spake, as never man yet spake,
The Truth that makes His servant free,
The royal law of Liberty.
Though heaven and earth shall pass away,
His living word our spirits stay,
And from His treasures, new and old,
Th’ eternal mysteries unfold.
The Lord is come! The world’s great stage
Begins a better, brighter age!
The old gives place unto the new;
The false retires before the true,
A progress that shall never tire,
A central heat of sacred fire,
A hope that soars beyond the tomb,
Reveal that Christ has truly come.
The Lord shall come! His still small voice
Bids every human heart rejoice,
By each closed door He stands and knocks;
Oh, turn for Him these rusted locks;
Clear from each home the dust of sin
That He may freely pass within;
Give ample verge—give ready room,
For He to be thy guest shall come.
The Lord shall come! In that great day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
May we in armour pure and bright
Flash back His own eternal light,
And join at last the white-robed band,
Whose spirits round their Saviour stand,
Where, when this weary world is o’er,
He comes with them to part no more.
– Excerpt, Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815–1881)
Dear Friends of Carmel,
We come again to another Advent and a new Liturgical Year. As the secular world is busy about the hustle and bustle of “the holiday season,” (which has less and less to do with Christ each year) Our Holy Mother the Church holds our hearts in joyful expectation for the coming of our Redeemer. We bring you these brief meditations in the hope that they will help immerse you in the great richness and hope of this “mini-lent” of Advent, that while we make our Christmas preparations of gifts and gatherings, we do not neglect the more important preparation of our souls to receive all of the grace that Christ’s coming means to us and to the world:
Through the ages, mankind has hungered for consolation and redemption. During the four weeks of Advent, the yearning of the human race for a Redeemer is the theme of the Church. “All you who thirst, come to the waters…,” cries Isaias, the master prophet of the universal God, whose central theme throughout his impassioned writings was the promise of a Savior for all the peoples of the earth. Advent is the season of Isaias, the season of expectation: “The Lord shall come to save the nations… the Lord shall make heard the glory of His voice in the joy of your heart.” . . .
The Gospel’s Judgment Day scene, depicting to us the gathered hosts of every race and people since the dawn of creation, urges us to begin this new year of worship with a sober accounting of how we have lived the Christian Faith and what we have done to share it with others. We are one year farther away from our baptism and one year closer to judgment. Perhaps more than we know, the “night is far advanced.” So we look to the end of all our years, the end that explains the beginning. The Final Judgment will reveal Christ’s complete victory. We enter now a new cycle of life’s warfare and ask for help to face ourselves. What are we doing to purify ourselves from past neglect of God’s grace and to better ourselves for a full use of this year of grace? “Let us walk becomingly as in the day,” knowing that “redemption is at hand.”Daily Missal of the Mystical Body (Maryknoll)
See our past Advent newsletters for more information about this beautiful season. Please know that all of you will be in our prayers as we begin this new Liturgical Year and during the coming weeks of the season of Advent.
In Christ and His Holy Virgin Mother,
Your Carmelite Sisters
A few Christmas items that were too late to make it into our last newsletter!
“The Christmas Book” by Francis Weiser is a tender, informative, and inspiring book. It details the history of Christmas and Christmas celebrations from the Gospel, through the middle ages, to the customs we still keep today. Collections of Christmas carols, chapters on Saint Nicholas and Christmas baking – this book covers everything! The book combines scholarship and humor, imparting through its pages a contagious appreciation of the true Christmas spirit. This book is a classic! Some of the Sisters remember seeing it on their family’s bookshelves at home.
Hardly had we put this book up on our website then all the copies we had sold out. We were just able to replenish our supply, and have made it available once again.
The 100% beeswax Advent candles flew off the shelves this year. The young woman who handcrafts our selection of candles has added dark green and red Christmas colored pillar candles (the same colors as the colonial christmas taper candles that were so popular last year) to add to this year’s collection. We are always happy to get your candles (or any of your Sacramentals) blessed before shipping them to you. Please just include a note with your order!
We have also added to our collection of Christmas ornaments. Last year we made a beautiful aluminum ornament of St. Teresa’s bookmark, which was quite popular. This year, in keeping with the Carmelite theme, we decided to make a maple wood ornament of St. Therese with her beautiful prayer on the back:
“O Little Infant Jesus, my only treasure,
I abandon myself to Your every wish.
I seek no other joy than that of calling
forth Your sweet smile. Grant me the
graces and the virtues of Your Holy
Childhood, so that on the day of my
birth into Heaven the angels and saints
may recognize me as Your little spouse.”
Besides the many new Gregorian chant CDs we added for our last newsletter, we have been busy finding new selections for Christmas music as well! Gregorian chant, polyphonic music, as well as instrumental and a cappella (from a group called VOCES8, a must for those who love complex musical harmonies!) renditions of traditional Christmas carols from around the world – there is something for everyone’s musical taste. There is nothing wrong with the sentimental “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” the up-beat “Jingle Bells,” or the kid-dramatic “Frosty the Snowman,” but our Christian Christmas heritage is rich with beautiful carols that have become all but lost, dare we say replaced, in our modern/pagan day. How our ancestors loved to sing about the birth of Our Lord! When we join to sing carols during Christmastide, we hardly sing the same one twice, there are so many – from all centuries A.D.!
Yes, it is the Christmas custom in Carmel, started by Our Holy Mother St. Teresa herself, for the Sisters to gather around the Nativity scene and sing Christmas hymns for part of mental prayer on Christmas and the three days following, and many of these carols have become our personal favorites. We are so pleased to promote and offer them to you! We do even give “O Magnum Mysterium” (a complex polyphonic piece) a try….with sometimes mixed results!
Over and over again have we recommended to you “The Liturgical Year” as the go-to source for beautiful and in-depth explanations and history of the Church’s Liturgical seasons and Feast days. “With the Church” is another title which we are now pleased to offer, and we might call it an “abridged” or “mini” Liturgical Year. The author, Mother Mary Loyola, gives brief, simple and beautiful reflections for the different seasons and Feast Days. The first volume covers the first half of the year, starting with Advent all the way through the Feast of the Ascension. We will be adding Volume II soon.
“The Prince of Peace” is another book with profound meditations and reflections for Advent and Christmas, stemming from the Old Testament Prophecies and the New Testament fulfillment of prophecy! Please see our entire selection of books for more good spiritual reading during these beautiful seasons.