Sunday, November 29, 2015

The December Fast: Advent

I love the expectant feeling that Advent imparts (and of course is meant to impart!).

We seldom hear about the penitential aspect of Advent…at least, I seldom do. I read about it, though, as the Divine Office reminds us of it explicitly in the readings for Matins last night. Readings 4, 5, and 6 are from Pope St. Leo the Great, and there is a note that this particular excerpt is from a sermon “on the December Fast, and almsgiving”.

These notes on not letting our belly become our God seem quite appropriate following the recent Thanksgiving feast! ;-)

From the Sermons of Pope St Leo the Great,
8th on the December Fast, and almsgiving.

Moon over my chapel
Our Saviour Himself instructed His disciples concerning the times and seasons of the coming of the Kingdom of God and the end of the world, and He hath given the same teaching to the Church by the mouth of His Apostles. In connection with this subject then, Our Lord biddeth us beware lest we let our hearts grow heavy through excess of meat and drink, and worldly thoughts. Dearly beloved brethren, we know how that this warning applieth particularly to us. We know that that day is coming, and though for a season we know not the very hour> yet this we know, that it is near.

Let every man then make himself ready against the coming of the Lord, so that He may not find him making his belly his god, or the world his chief care. Dearly beloved brethren, it is a matter of every day experience that fulness of drink dulleth the keenness of the mind, and that excess of eating unnerveth the strength of the will. The very stomach protesteth that gluttony doth harm to the bodily health, unless temperance get the better of desire, and the thought of the indigestion afterward check the indulgence of the moment.

The body without the soul hath no desires; its sensibility cometh from the same source as its movements. And it is the duty of a man with a reasonable soul to deny something to his lower nature and to keep back the outer man from things unseemly. Then will his soul, free from fleshly cravings, sit often at leisure in the palace of the mind, dwelling on the wisdom of God. There, when the roar and rattle of earthly cares are stilled, will she feed on holy thoughts and entertain herself with the expectation of the everlasting joy.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

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