28 November 2020
By Stefania Caterina and Fr Tomislav Vlašić
Father Tomislav: Dearest Brothers and Sisters; on the first Sunday of Advent we begin the path towards the Christmas solemnities. It is very important to be in a state of mind that takes us towards the Saviour. There are two biblical phrases, two images, which may explain our path: the Father, Abba, and the Bridegroom.
After original sin, man began to seek the Father and, at the same time, to flee from Him. We may notice this in the reading of the prophet Isaiah. The prayer expresses the wish to reach the Father:
“You, Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. Why, Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. … For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.”
We will stop here: He is the Father and He remains the Father. His omnipotence and His Fatherhood cannot express themselves if we have barriers against His love in our hearts. In the second part of Isaiah, this is expressed: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
The words of this prayer are strong, but they may remain just words. It is fundamental to change our attitude towards the Father. We all know from the story of salvation that the path of the rebellious humanity is very difficult because the rebellious humanity does not want to change. It fears God, it seeks God and it flees God. Let us end with the prayer: “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
Let us change our attitude and allow God the Father to act within us. He acts through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Son truly presented Himself as the Bridegroom. He espoused the cause of humanity, and we may see that He espoused the cause of humanity in Mary Most Holy. In the message of 24 March, 2020, She said:
“I wish you understood, children, that the mystery of the Incarnation is not inaccessible for those who welcome and love Jesus, nor is it for His people. In fact, the Lord repeats to each of you even today: ‘Do not be afraid … you have found favour with God. … The Holy Spirit will come on you’ (Lk 1,26-38). And you answer with Me: ‘I am the Lord’s servant’ (Lk 1,38). This is the meaning of life: to be children of God and servants of the Lord, who bring the living presence of Jesus to humanity.”
These words of Holy Mary have made us turn towards the Bridegroom: the One who has espoused the cause of humanity, the Messiah. St. Paul says that in Him we have received all gifts: “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge” (1Cor 1,3-9).
Let us continue to deepen our relationship with the Bridegroom. What shall we do in this time of Advent? Will we prepare for the wedding with the Bridegroom, or will we prepare to marry the Bridegroom? This is a strong image and it must speak to us. We can prepare the wedding ceremony, the gifts and all the luxuries, which may be even embarrassing, excessive, inappropriate. If we prepare it in this way, the Bridegroom will not come. Who is the bride? Humanity is the bride; the Church is the bride; the believers are the bride. Thus, our attitude towards Christmas must be to be ready for the Bridegroom. Observe life on Earth and the behaviour of the humanity of the Earth before Christmas. If Santa Claus is at the centre, if money, gifts, meeting our loved ones is at the centre, the Bridegroom will not come. We will not encounter Him and He cannot express the power that the Father has given Him, the power of the Holy Spirit.
The beginning of this time of Advent is also the time in which we begin the novena prayer to the Immaculate, our Mother, the Bride of the Holy Spirit. In this novena, She wants to prepare us for the consecration to both the Holy Spirit and the Most Holy Trinity in order to be prepared for the coming year, for the coming of the Bridegroom among the people who embrace God’s love, who embrace God’s life. This novena will be very powerful and it will offer many graces. Therefore, we invite you to begin with this preparation for the graces that lead us towards Christmas and towards the presence of the Bridegroom. May the Church of the whole Universe welcome the Bridegroom who has espoused the cause of humanity to lead us to the Father; because without Him, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are distant from the Father. We cannot reach Him with our own means.
Thus, we will end with the final words of the message of Mary Most Holy that I have quoted before. We will be able to bring the Bridegroom; we will be able to say to every man, “Do not be afraid”; to the ill, to the dying, to all restless, to all those who are confused, to those who have lost the meaning of life: “Do not be afraid … you have found favour with God. … The Holy Spirit will come on you” (Lk 1,26-38).
And we will bring the Lord Jesus just as the Blessed Virgin brought Him to Elisabeth, and this is the meaning of our deep preparation for the coming year in which the Lord will come among His people; among those who espouse the Lord Jesus, who welcome Him and want to live a relationship with God in the pure love that He communicates to us.
I bless you; may the path of the novena prayer be fruitful for each one of you and for the whole Church of God, as well as those who want to feel the grace of the presence of the Bridegroom in the midst of the people so that no one be left alone; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
 See Readings of the first Sunday of Advent, Cycle B: Is 63,16b-17.19b; 64,2-7; Mark 13:33-37; see also Mt 25,1-13
 Novena to the Immaculate Conception