· Our Advent Lessons and Carols are this Sunday, December 14, at 7:00 PM, in the abbey church. A reception follows; all are welcome.
· Student are dismissed for Christmas vacation on Friday, December 19, at 12:15 PM (and no sooner). They will have semester exams up until that point, therefore no student is allowed to leave early without the explicit permission of Fr. Victor.
· First semester exams begin on Wednesday, December 17. Students are encouraged to study; parents are encouraged to pray.
●Applications to renew tuition assistance are available now. Applications must be postmarked by February 3rd. http://stmichaelsprep.org/images/stories/Admissions/psas_financial_aid_application.pdf
●For several years Fr. John Henry has made regular contributions to the website of the St Josemaria Institute (www.stjosemaria.org), an Opus Dei apostolate that seeks to spread devotion to Saint Josemaria Escriva and knowledge of his spirituality. Father has recently collaborated with them in producing a novena booklet for "A Happy and Faithful Marriage." It is available for purchase from Midwest Theological Forum:
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·Congratulations to our basketball and soccer teams on their respective seasons thus far. The next soccer game is Tuesday, December 16, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s. The next basketball game is not until after Christmas vacation.
Sermon by a Norbertine Priest
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…
The prayer which St. Paul made for the Romans, which we heard in today’s Epistle. We hear a whole lot about joy in this season of Advent, and even more so during the season of Christmas. Every other prayer in the liturgy seems to speak about joy. In fact, we hear so much about it, that, if one is not feeling joyful, it can even get quite annoying. Let’s face it, nothing is more bothersome as when someone keeps telling you to be joyful while you yourself are not. But perhaps if we understood what joy is, where it is found, and how it is obtained—perhaps then we can better cope with all this joyful business.
Joy is that emotion which is activated when our intellect or will possesses something true and good. This is not to be confused with simple pleasure. It’s not that pleasure in itself is bad (that depends on what one is taking pleasure in); it’s just that joy is better, more noble than pleasure. Pleasure is what we feel when our senses perceive something that brings delight. When we sink our teeth into an In-N-Out burger, that’s pleasure. Joy is something a bit more elevated, something spiritual—like when we come to know some new truth, or when we come to possess something which is good for us.
For instance, when the doctor gives you medicine, the medicine may taste horrible and bring your senses absolutely no pleasure; but knowing that it will restore you to health, the taking of that medicine causes you great joy. So joy is better than pleasure because its object, that is what brings it about, is greater than what brings about simple pleasure: the state of good health is something better than a momentary good flavor. Joy is in the intellect and the will alone; pleasure is in the senses. Even the animals can have pleasure, whereas only man and the angels can have real joy.
Now since joy is caused by something which the intellect and will grasp as true and good, it follows that the greater the truth and goodness, the greater the joy. Good physical health brings a certain amount of joy, as does having a good friend or knowing some lofty philosophical truth; but the greatest good and greatest truth there is, is God Himself—the Blessed Trinity. So possessing God with our intellects and wills, insofar as we can in this life, brings us the greatest joy. This is an undeniable fact. One can say he doesn’t believe it, just as one can say that he won’t gain weight by overeating, but reality doesn’t change just because one chooses not to accept it.
So joy is something greater than pleasure; it comes when our intellect and will seize on something true and good; and the greater and more noble the object, the greater the joy. But at this point you might be saying, “So what, Father, that all sounds great on paper, but I’m still miserable.” This leads us to the last point, namely how do we obtain this joy.
Remember that St. Paul prayed to God for the Romans, that He would fill them with all joy and peace in believing. Joy is ultimately an effect of charity, says St. Thomas. That is why St. Paul prayed that the Romans would have joy “in believing”, because we first must believe in something in order to love it—we cannot love what we do not believe in. So the first step towards joy is to believe in God and all His revealed truths. The second step is to love God and His truths. And both of these—believing and loving God—come as a gift for which we must pray: for ourselves and for others, as did St. Paul. But we’re not done yet...
As we know all too well, we do not yet possess God perfectly as we will in heaven; we can still, and unfortunately often do turn our minds and hearts from Him. Now just as one will never have the pleasure which comes from that In-and-Out burger until one actually eats it, so one will not have joy in God as long as he does not grasp onto Him, so to speak, by thinking about Him, by contemplating His truth and goodness, by speaking with Him and listening to Him, by actively loving Him. Now there’s the key to finding joy even in this life. The more closely united we are to God in prayer, in love (a love which expresses itself in doing God’s will), the more joy we will have. Once again, it is an undeniable fact.
Consider the words of Mother Teresa: We have a right to be happy and peaceful. We have been created for this—we are born to be happy—and we can only find true happiness and peace when we are in love with God—there is joy in loving God…A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.
We used to begin every Holy Mass with the words, Introibo ad altare Dei; Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam—“I will go unto the altar of God, to the God Who gives joy to my youth.” Let this be a solemn reminder to us that true and everlasting joy is only found when we move towards God, when we “go up to His altar”, giving Him our hearts and minds, contemplating Him, speaking with Him, loving Him. And let us pray at this Mass for the Gift of Understanding, that gift which moves our minds to penetrate into the depths of God’s revealed truths, and so develop a holy taste for spiritual things. And so now let us continue this sacrifice of love and go unto God’s altar, for there awaits us joy and peace in believing.
● For Mrs. Donna Loeffler, who is undergoing some health problems.
● For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.