Thursday, December 5, 2013


Carl Olsen, at the Catholic World Report blog, has a thoughtful post entitled 'Advent and the Apocalypse' in which he quotes Ronald Knox. Go there to read his piece and then return to read the meditation which he quotes.

Rouse Up!

We live in an impenitent age; fearing, in our nervous moments, as the result of human negligence, the same sort of world-catastrophe which our ancestors hoped for as the proof of divine omnipotence. And still, because the enthusiasts have so often cried "Wolf", we think of the Second Coming as a contingency fortunately remote. As we listen to the prayers of the Advent liturgy, we have to force ourselves into an artificial frame of mind; to associate ourselves, by a pious exercise of the imagination, with the hopes of an earlier Christendom. We want Our Lord to come, but not just yet.

I am not suggesting that this is an ideal attitude, only that it is a common one. But, whatever we make of certain incalculable probabilities, it is surely important that we should not miss the drama of the season. It is a drama of divine patience, and of human impatience. On the Sunday before Advent, and on three of the Sundays in Advent, the collect begins with the word Excita, "Rouse up." But with a difference: twice we ask God to rouse up his power and interfere, somehow, in the course of world affairs; why does he behave as if he had gone to sleep? (Remember Our Lord, asleep on the boat; "Master, art thou unconcerned? We are sinking.") Twice we ask God to rouse us up; to awaken us from the heavy sleep which makes us go slack and take things for granted. (Remember St. Peter, asleep in the garden; "Simon, art thou sleeping? Hadst thou not strength enough to watch even for an hour?") The drama of Advent is that when we see everything going wrong with the world, we are tempted to be indifferent about it all. And we ask one of two things; either that God will "wake up" and do something about it; or that he will wake us up, and give us grace to watch in Gethsemane, with heavy eyelids.

To shrug your shoulders and hold no briefs means that you get more comfort, perhaps, out of life; but less excitement.

From 'Lightning Meditations', Sheed & Ward, 1959