Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gaudete Sunday: Real Men Wear Pink

Happy Gaudete Sunday! It's the day we light the pink candle in Advent. The name comes from the Latin of Phil. 4:4-5, which is the entrance antiphon for the Mass.

Real men wear pink (er, rose, as my wife corrects me)
... and red shoes!
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est.

For any whose Latin is rusty, gaudete means "Rejoice you (pl.) in the Lord always..." For my readers in Pittsburgh, gaudete, "Rejoice, y'ins!" My people in Virginia, "Rejoice, y'all!" "Rejoice, youse guys" in New York. (NB: unofficial translations of Sacred Scripture.)

The original language of Philippians was Greek, and in the Greek the word is χαίρετε, which reminds us of the angelic greeting to Our Lady, in which Gabriel addressed the Virgin saying χαῖρε Rejoice (sing.)! This brings to our mind the verse that we read in Zephaniah (which we will hear at Mass tomorrow), "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! ... The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst" (Gk: Χαῖρε σφόδρα, θύγατερ Σιων ... βασιλεὺς Ισραηλ κύριος ἐν μέσῳ σου). Pope Benedict points out in his new book that the Hebrew (בְּקִרְבֵּךְ) here says that the Lord is in the womb of Israel. See the wholeness of Sacred Scripture? We await the coming of the Christ child, but we also are filled with joy that he has already come and will come again.

We are a religion of joy, not a fleeting emotion that lifts us up to let us sink back down, but a permanent and enduring happiness that is from the Lord and delights in his majesty and his love. Are we eager for the Lord to return? Do politics and current events cause us to lose sight of the fact that this world is passing away? If we are not winning souls, it is because we are not full of joy. Do we hang our heads and sulk over personal misfortune? Snap at loved ones over stress? Become grumpy when our sports teams lose? Nothing should deprive us of our joy, for the Lord is in our midst!

St. Philip Neri,
saint of joy,
When I think of joy, the saint who comes to mind is Philip Neri, the Saint of Joy. This is from Butler's Lives of the Saints via EWTN: "Sometimes he was heard, as he lay prostrate on the ground, to cry out: 'Enough, O Lord, enough; withhold a little at present, I beseech you, the torrent of your sweetness.' And another time: 'Depart from me, O Lord; depart from me. I am yet a mortal man, and am not able to bear such an abundance of celestial joy. Behold I die, my dear Lord, unless you succor me.' He used often to say: 'O God, seeing you are so infinitely amiable, why have you given us but one heart to love you, and this so little and so narrow?' ... Often when he was reviled he exulted with joy. One of these slanderers was so moved by seeing the cheerfulness of the saint's countenance, and his invincible patience, while another cursed and reproached him in the most bitter terms, that he was converted upon the spot, undertook the defense of the servant of God, and entered upon a penitential and edifying course of life."

Lord, grant us all a share of  Philip Neri's joy, that we may be ever caught up in your divine happiness and the assurance of your great love for us.