"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis
in Gervais, OR
December 23rd, 2012 Dominica IV Adventus, Anno C
Roráte caeli, désuper, et nubes pluant iustum. . .
“Drop down dew from above,
you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened
and bring forth a Savior” (cf. Isaiah 45:8).
The prophet Isaiah greets
us in today’s Entrance Antiphon and helps us to prepare for Christmas. Dr. Pius
Parsch writes that “(Isaiah’s) cry must become our own. Before God comes to us,
He demands preparation. He will not force His gifts upon us. We must desire
them, we must be spiritually hungry.” Parsch makes this great statement:
“Advent desire means that we must cultivate a fruitful soil for the seed of
grace, that we become receptive to God’s kingdom” (The Church’s Year of Grace, Vol. I: Advent to Candlemas, p. 134).
This applies directly to these words from the prophet Isaiah: “Drop down dew
from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the
earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.” This prophecy of Isaiah is
fulfilled with the coming of the Divine Child. By analogy, we can say that He
has come down from heaven as a drop of dew from the clouds.
Though this is an analogy,
this imagery is quite accurate. Remember the Gospel of the Annunciation. The
Angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” She is
full of grace. She is filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing. Because the
Lord is with her in a singular way, she is the soil that is receptive for the
dew which drops down from the clouds of heaven. In fact, it is a cloud
from heaven that dropped down upon her. The angel announced: “The Holy Spirit
will descend upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” It
was the glory cloud of the Holy Spirit. That same cloud descended upon the Holy
of Holies in the Temple. When the cloud descended, God took His seat on His
throne upon the Cherubim. And when that cloud descended upon Mary, God claimed
His throne in the Immaculate cloister of her womb. The drop of dew which is the
Word of God, found a receptive soil in her. “Drop down dew from above, you
heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and
bring forth a Savior.” Mary was the Immaculate rich soil which brought
forth the Savior.
The Eternal Word entered
into human flesh. That is really the meaning of the word ‘Advent’. Ad means
‘into’ and vent from the verb ‘venir’ means to come. So, the Eternal Word came
into this world, into human flesh, into the womb of Mary, so that He could come
into our hearts.
The consequence of the
Eternal Son of God entering into human flesh, is that He has entered into time.
Time is fleeting. So, the moment Mary has heard these words, she begins
planning her journey. She sets out in haste. Immediately, the Word of God sends
out His Holy Spirit to those around Him. From the womb, Jesus sends His Holy
Spirit to the infant John in the womb. “St. Augustine is even of the opinion
that the unborn Baptist was miraculously endowed with the use of reason and
will so that he could joyfully recognize, believe in and say Yes to his Lord”
(Saward, Redeemer in the Womb, p.
25). Whether this is true or not, the Church has not defined; but it is certain
that this event fulfills the prophecy made by the angel Gabriel to Zechariah
promising that “[John] will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his
mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). “The grace of the Holy Spirit flows from Jesus
through Mary to John and from John to Elizabeth” (Saward, 26).
And where does this happen?
It happens on a mountain. Mary hastens to the hill country. She ascends the
mountain in order to meet the Just One in the clouds whence He came, having
dropped down like dew from above. He has come to her from heaven and she now
goes to be near heaven to prepare and to be of service to her Son’s first
disciple, still in the womb himself.
Mary makes haste. We too
must make haste. Time is short and God has given us these last days of Advent
to prepare. In those days, Mary came to the mountain. This day we have come
here to this holy mountain: the altar of God; as near to heaven as we can come
in this life. Mary received the Word of God and she conceived and bore fruit in
her womb. We have received the Word of God in this Mass. Let our souls now be
prepared as rich soil for the Word of God that will drop down like dew from the
clouds of heaven.
“Let the earth be opened
and bring forth a Savior.”