“Blow the trumpet in Zion… for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near” Joel 2:1
“For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests.” Zephaniah 1:7
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice… The Lord is at hand.” Philippians 4:4-5
The third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudate” means “rejoice”. It is the first word of the entrance antiphon of that Sunday’s Holy Mass. It is sung by the faithful as the priest approaches the altar to celebrate Christ’s sacrifice:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near.
This Advent – act justly, love mercy and walk humbly
Advent calls on Christians to prepare ourselves to discern God’s will for our lives. As “God is love” (1 John 4:19) everyone is obliged to make a commitment to do what is good as we walk life’s highways and byways. Accepting the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are called to “live a life of love” – to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly” (Micah 6:8).
St Lucy is a virgin and martyr for the Christian faith. Her name means “light” or “lucid”. She is the patron saint of the blind as well as martyrs, epidemics, salesmen and throat infections.
St Lucy walked the path of love – even to the shedding of her blood. Her extraordinary journey began when St Agatha appeared to her in a vision and healed St Lucy’s mother after a four year illness and foretold St Lucy’s own martyrdom. The saint gave her wealth to the poor and to consecrate her virginity to Christ. Despite knowing that she would die for her Faith she still continued to travel in service of Christ. In 304 AD, St Lucy made the ultimate sacrifice for the Prince of Peace and was martyred.
Pope Francis: St Lucy was guided by the Holy Spirit
In December 2014, Pope Francis invoked the example of St Lucy when he spoke to a gathering of blind people at the Vatican.
Stressing that the Holy Spirit was the light that illuminates each Christian’s path, the Holy Father went on to say: “Lucy suggests to us a value which for me seems very important also for you: courage. She was a young woman, helpless, but confronted torture and violent death with great courage, a courage which came from the risen Christ, with whom she was united, and from the Holy Spirit, who lived within her.”
Speaking of her courage as an example to us all, the Pope said: “Man is not fully realised in having or even doing; he is realised in loving, that is, in giving. ‘Lucy’ means ‘light.’ Each person becomes light to the extent in which they are a gift to others, each person, in reality, is this – is a precious gift.”
ACN helping the Church in its pastoral role in Nigeria and elsewhere
Sister Lucy Ohanuma is serving Christ in Nigeria. A namesake of the saint and inspired by her holy example, Sister Lucy travels to the rural areas where priests are unable to visit regularly. ACN supplied Sister Lucy with a vehicle enabling her to travel to Catholic churches across Nigeria, including St Stephen Catholic Church, Ilseha City, to take Communion to those in need.
Sister Lucy is bringing Christ’s message of peace to rural areas across the country. She is strengthening evangelistic zeal. Her work includes preaching the Gospel to groups of students – helping them to integrate the life of Christ into their young lives as well as to take inspiration from saints such as St Lucy.
Throughout the world, Aid to the Church in Need is providing the transportation for priests and Sisters, so that they can carry out their pastoral duties.
Reflecting on the coming of Christ
This Advent, we are asked to find the time to meditate on the meaning of the Incarnation and birth of Christ. ACN supporter Cecilia wrote some Advent meditations and prayers which we share with you below.
Speaking about the charity’s Red Wednesday event this November, Cecilia Solis said: “It was a great honour to carry the cross on Red Wednesday to help raise awareness of the situation of our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer persecution and martyrdom for our Faith around the world.”
Inspired by the example of St Lucy, we are urged to attend Holy Mass, to receive the Sacraments and to earnestly seek God in prayer, to help us in our Advent preparation.
Cecilia uses a blessed handmade figurine of baby Jesus at home, a gift from her mother in Peru that helps her focus on the following spiritual reflections and prayers throughout Advent.
You may like to use Cecilia’s meditations:
First mediation of Advent
We are asked to meditate on God sending his only begotten son for our salvation as an act of pure infinite love and mercy towards us, poor sinners. With the help of God: could we do small acts of charity with great love? Could we forgive any person who did wrong to us and ask for forgiveness when we offended someone? An examination of conscience followed with the sacrament of confession is welcomed this Advent.
Lord, teach us to love, give and forgive as you have done.
Second mediation of Advent
Our Lord Jesus chose to come as a defenceless baby and God trusted his care to the Holy Virgin Mary and St Joseph who lived in full obedience to God’s commandments. Could we learn to trust God’s plan even though our prayers are not answered the way we expected? Let us never be discouraged and let’s bring the message of hope to other people’s lives too. Could we let Jesus be in full control of our life and let go of any worries? The darts of the devil cannot reach us if we do this.
Lord, teach us to be obedient to your will and trust in your providence in our lives.
ACN’s Red Wednesday, ‘Standing up for faith and freedom’ – Cecilia outside Westminster Cathedral this November
Third mediation of Advent
The Holy Virgin Mary and St Joseph were turned away from the inns in the village and took refuge in a stable were Jesus was born.
Our Lord is the King of Kings yet he came from his throne in heaven to be laid in a manger, choosing complete detachment from any earthly possessions.
Could we give baby Jesus our heart as a refuge this Christmas?
Could we love people instead of loving things and share with those in need?Could we make people feel welcome?
Lord, teach us to be humble like you and help us to put aside any attachments that do not please you.
St Lucy, patron of the blind and martyrs help us.
The Holy Family was rejected and humiliated by many people because they were strangers and they had no riches by the standards of this world. However they carried Jesus, the Son of God with them.
What a blind world. God forbid us to suffer from spiritual blindness to fail to recognise His presence in the poor and suffering.
St Lucy, pray for us.
Fourth mediation of Advent
Jesus alone is the greatest gift to mankind and we need to share this gift with as many people as possible.
Why don’t we talk with people closest to us, families or friends, who are Christians but have not attended a church service in a long time and encourage them or invite them to attend the Christmas Eve Mass.
And for those who are not Christians and may not want to do this we still could share the gift of the love of Christ by offering Holy Communion at Mass for them and praying for them.
We also need to remember in our prayers those people who have already departed from this world.
Lord, we pray not only for ourselves and our love ones but for every single person in the world and especially for those who are in most need of your mercy.
Marcel Proust said that: “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” This challenge of looking at the world anew is asked of the faithful this Advent as they prepare to “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… the Lord is at hand”. (Philippians 4:4-5)
We take inspiration from St Lucy’s martyrdom and the writings of the lives of the saints – they bore sufferings and temptations greater than ours.
How did they overcome these trials? By the love of Christ.
We are called upon to nourish this pure love by mediating on the mysteries of Christ’s life and above all by devotion to the Holy Eucharist – the saints in their service to Christ help us by revealing the antidote against sin and spiritual blindness as well as the pledge of eternal life.
A prayer to St Lucy
St Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see.
We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives.
Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation – every corner of our day.
(Prayer sourced from catholic.org)
ACN invite you to join us and pray for persecuted and suffering Christians around the world.
ACN friend and #RedWednesday supporter, Gloria submitted the following reflection for the third Sunday of Advent.
Gloria also supports Soul Food, a Catholic charismatic prayer group for young adults, meeting every Thursday at Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Central London from 7 to 9pm for worship, teaching and faith sharing. Soul Food’s Life in The Spirit Seminar programmes is starting in January 2018. http://www.soulfoodgroup.org/liss
As we approach Christmas in this third Sunday of Advent, the first reading from Isaiah is about waiting in joyful expectation for the coming of Christ, ‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow, as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord make both integrity and praise spring up in the sight of the nations.’
So how have you been preparing for the coming of the Lord?
This theme of joy and to not be anxious about anything is continued in the second reading where we are not only called to perfection but to holiness as well in preparation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One may ask, how clean is my heart or my soul?
As Catholics we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ by asking for forgiveness and repenting of our sins so we may be found perfect and holy when Christ comes.
We are also encouraged by John the Baptist in the Gospel passage who knew; ‘He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light’ to prepare for the one that is greater than him. St Lucy, whose Feast day is celebrated on the 13th of December is known to have a symbolic meaning (her name) as the bearer of light especially in the darkness of the winter season.
We pray for St Lucy’s intercession to help us out of the darkness into the light of the Lord when he comes at Christmas.
Let us also pray for humility like John the Baptist to bring other people to conversion and a personal relationship with Christ , a conversion that brings joy, peace and happiness to their lives.