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Pastor Iuventus: An Advent reasoning test

As the Catholic Herald enters a new, digital future I find myself reflecting on the quantum leap which is digitisation. It was not that long ago that I sat at a school desk which still boasted an inkwell, albeit one that was dry, and I have fond memories of the days of chalk and talk. We were shown a mine of knowledge which would yield up untold riches if we learnt prospecting skills from those who had quarried there centuries before, whose discoveries were curated by something called “culture”, which helped one to tell treasure from slag.

answer could be “Man”, as we would have said back in those days before we knew how hurtful a collective noun could be. Or I suppose “banana” would do equally well – as an alternative answer, I mean.

Let’s try a religious one: “Lent is to Easter as Advent is to...” Most people, if they reasoned as they lived, ought in plain honesty to answer “shopping” or “anticipating Christmas”, but these would not serve the purpose of this exercise, which is reason. Lent is to Easter as Advent is to Christmas, I will accept as an answer. But if this is so, given

My teachers did not assume that anything I found was of equal value by mere virtue of having been discovered by me myself, nor did they encourage the fallacy that prospecting was an end in itself, regardless of what you brought up. When a computer was too large to fit any classroom, knowledge was profligate in books. But no educationalist would have been stupid enough to point us in the direction of the library and assume that we would emerge covered in learning, as people seem to assume today with the internet. The fact that knowledge has been digitised doesn’t of itself change knowledge, only its access.

Part of our curriculum, I remember, included verbal reasoning tests. One would have to complete mystic statements like: “Bark is to tree as skin is to...” Yes, it takes a moment’s thought, doesn’t it? The answer is neither “dog” nor “scream”, both of which I would have been capable of defending with the ingenious logic of a 10-year-old. One

No educationalist would have pointed us towards the library and assumed that we would emerge covered in learning that no one spends Lent eating rich food, singing Alleluia and wishing people a happy Easter, why should Advent be full of Christmas partying and carol singing? It’s unreasonable, for the real answer is “Lent is to Easter as Advent is to salvation”: a touchstone of how much I believe what’s coming requires active preparation on my part to bear fruit. For regardless of whether I am ready, the Advent, the arrival and presence of my Saviour and Redeemer, will happen with its own impetus. His coming in a stable long ago cannot disrupt my future plans. But unless they are co-terminus with his return, these plans are futile. In Advent, I expect the coming of the Lord of Creation, coming to wrap it up, call time on it, for Christ will fill it with the fullness of his presence. All those longings of mine which are grounded in the satisfactions of the world and the flesh, those ambitions which do not touch the life of the spirit, will look as useless and pitiful as Halloween stock is in the Christmas rush.

Here’s another correct answer: “Lent is to Easter as Advent is to Easter.” Lent and Advent are both seasons in which the Church sets before us again the history of salvation, re-reading and re-living, as the Catechism puts it, these great events in the “today” of her liturgy. The Old Testament gives us the symbolic, typological language for what we still do not really have words for, because it is yet to come: the time when the lion will lie down with the lamb, when all peoples will come to Zion, when her warfare will end. This history of salvation is “live” in me, promised but not yet fulfilled. Advent is the time when I face not the cosiness of another Christmas, but rather, am energised to deal with the yet to be requited need for salvation in my heart and in my world. Not to stuff this down with feasting, but to feed it with the hope of a happiness so vast it cannot be contained in the experience we call time and history. Knowledge of salvation is one thing; accessing its content is quite another.

Advent is to Christmas what Christmas is to Ascension: a vision of human life which truly belongs in heaven. Pastor Iuventus is a Catholic priest in London


Ordinary Form Divine Office Week II Sunday, December 7: Second Sunday of Advent Is 40:1-5, 9-11; Ps 85; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8 Monday, December 8: Immaculate Conception Gn 3:9-15, 20; Ps 98; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Lk 1:26-38 Tuesday, December 9: Weekday of Advent, St Juan Diego Is 40:1-11; Ps 96; Mt 18:12-14 Wednesday, December 10: Weekday of Advent, St John Roberts Is 40:25-31; Ps 103; Mt 11:28-30 Thursday, December 11: St Damasus I Is 41:13-20; Ps 145; Mt 11:11-15 Friday, December 12: Weekday of Advent, Our Lady of Guadalupe Zec 2:14-17; Jdt 13:18-19; Lk 1:26-38 Saturday, December 13: St Lucy Sir 48:1-4, 9-11; Ps 80; Mt 17:9-13

Extraordinary Form Sunday, December 7: Second Sunday of Advent Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 11:2-10 Monday, December 8: Immaculate Conception of Our Lady Proverbs 8:22-35; Luke 1:26-28 Tuesday, December 9: Feria Readings of Second Sunday of Advent repeated Wednesday, December 10: Feria Readings of Second Sunday of Advent repeated Thursday, December 11: St Damasus I 1 Peter 5:1-4,10-11; Matthew 16:13-19 Friday, December 12: Feria Readings of Second Sunday of Advent repeated Saturday, December 13: St Lucy 2 Corinthians 10:17-18,11:1-2; Matthew 13:44-52 Compiled by Gordon Dimon of the Latin Mass Society


My Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to thee, and to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee this day, my eyes, my ears,

my mouth, my heart,

my whole being without reserve. Wherefore good Mother as I am thine own, keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.



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