Dear Devotee of Saint Philomena,
On the Third Sunday of Advent the Church calls us to 'Rejoice', Gaudete, 'Rejoice and be glad' for our salvation is near at hand. Our time of watching and waiting is almost complete and the Lord is nearer to us than we imagine. The source of our joy is to be found in the fact that we are the people to whom God has come close. The rose-colored candle on the Advent Wreath reminds us of the years of glory that Israel enjoyed under David and Solomon. They found a unity and peace in their understanding that God was with them. Solomon's temple was the outward expression of that holy presence and for devout Jews the Temple was the dwelling place of God on Earth. In the Holy of Holies the Ark of the Covenant was housed and God's presence filled that sacred place.
As a Christian people we are called to that same sense of wonder and awe. Christmas is a reminder that our Emmanuel and that His delight is 'to be with the children of men'. In this Advent season we are called to prepare a dwelling place for God in our hearts. In order to do this we must purify our hearts of anything that is unholy and unwholesome. We must cleanse the temple so that we the Lord may dwell in us. This Divine Indwelling is the source of all true and lasting joy. God is with us and as St Paul writes, "If God is for us who can be against us? . . . Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord." This reality is the basis of our present joy and of our future hope. We look forward in anticipation not only to the Feast of Christmas but also to that day when we will come before the Lord in glory - to that moment when, set free from time, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more sickness, no more sadness and no more death. This is the hope that brings joy to our lives and this is the hope that is born in us anew with each Christmas that we celebrate as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior.
Fr. Chad Partain
Chancellor of the Diocese of Alexandria in Louisiana
Pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Church, Alexandria
Director of the Congregation of the Children of Mary
Youth Director for the International Family of St. Philomena