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Whisperings of Angels in the Night


Soon the Gloria in Excelcis returns to the celebration of the Holy Mass – the angelic hymn proper to the celebration of the incarnation of Christ, the Child of Bethlehem, born of the Virgin Mary, God’s true Son, begotten from eternity. It will be natural with the return of the Gloria to envision the night when the angels first sang this hymn of praise. To picture innumerable angels in the night sky suddenly aglow with resplendent light makes sense as we sing, “Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” These words are so resounding and evocative that the Church has chosen this hymn to be a near constant in our celebration of the Mystery of Christ with us in the Mass. Like the Shepherds before us we will be called to hasten in obedience to the heavenly tidings to worship the heavenly babe of Bethlehem! Have we prepared our hearts in the same spirit of worship which ruled the hearts of those lowly shepherds on that first Christmas long ago? Will we come to the Mystery of Christmas impetuous in our eagerness to worship Him who is coming into our very midst as we celebrate the Holy Eucharist? Will our eagerness abound in ejaculations of devotion to the Father who sent and sends His Divine

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Son: “We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for they great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.” Eagerness and joy can and does break all bounds!

Equally natural on this night of joyous celebration is to think of the Divine Son, to think of Him as He came on earth to redeem us, to think of Him as proclaimed to be the lamb of God by blessed John Baptist who prepared the way for His earthly ministry, to think of Him as the Lamb of God, both priest and victim, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross and its re-presentation in the Mass, to think of Him as the eternal Lamb of God as envision in the Book of Revelation, presenting to God the Father in heaven the perfect sacrifice of His glorified humanity on our behalf. Through glorious hymn, the Church teaches Her children to be honest, teaches us to seek mercy, pardon and peace which come only through Jesus Christ. Into our mouths She puts the words: “O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.” All are solemn words, pleading words, hopeful words!

The Gloria closes with a burst of joy: “For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of the God the Father.” Thus the second person of the Trinity is not honored alone, but rather in union with the other Persons of the Trinity, the Father and the Holy Spirit, because the Godhead is a unity. The joy of the Church is that the initiative of God evokes initiatives from us in concert with the will of God. The Gloria itself is a hymn begun by the angels (messengers of God’s will) in the sky and finished by the Church on earth. Just as blessed John Baptist attempted to prepare and make straight the way of the Lord, so too have we been re-created by water and the Holy Spirit, for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through our attempts to convey the hope that is within us.

Advent and Christmas being seasons of hope, let us dedicate “ourselves, our souls and our bodies” to making way for others to know Christ, to using all the devices of love and mercy at our disposal to bring others to Christ and to making the gift which is ours in this Parish available to others. I look forward to seeing each and every one of you in Church on Christmas. Let us join together with renewed vigor and sing of our joy in the Lord, making known the depth of the love which is ours in Jesus Christ and giving concrete expression to the strength we find in this place. WWIII