December 8, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Last week we were meditating generically on what the Season of Advent is. It is the coming of the Lord. If you remember, there are two aspects of Lent: waiting for the Second Coming of the Lord, and, with rightful dispositions, waiting for the Birthday of the Lord.

When Advent was first inaugurated into the Liturgical Calendar, one of the hymns that was used was called the Dies Irae. It was about God’s Judgement on the world. Later on, that hymn was transferred to a hymn used at a Funeral.

Listening to the hymn in Latin can be soothing, as when we listen to any chant hymn. But if we translate the hymn, the words tell a different story, especially at the beginning:

That day of wrath, that dreadful day, shall heaven and earth in ashes lay, as David and the Sybil say.

What horror must invade the mind when the approaching Judge shall find and sift the deeds of all mankind!

The mighty trumpet’s wondrous tone shall rend each tomb’s sepulchral stone and summon all before the Throne.

Then shall with universal dread the Book of Consciences be read to judge the lives of all the dead.

For now before the Judge severe all hidden things must plain appear; no crime can pass unpunished here.

These words may seem disturbing in today’s world, where everyone almost expects that all people will go to Heaven, and where some people have no sense of personal sin. However, these words do give us pause. What ARE our expectations for the end of the world, or even our own death? The four last things are: Death, Judgement, Heaven, or Hell.

How will the Lord judge us or the world? How will we be judged? While there may be dread, as the hymn above states, there is also hope. The hymn will go on to say:

O Judge of justice, hear, I pray, for pity take my sins away before the dreadful reckoning day.

Your gracious face, O Lord, I seek; deep shame and grief are on my cheek; in sighs and tears my sorrows speak.

Divorced from the accursed band, o make me with Your sheep to stand, as child of grace, at Your right Hand .

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