In preparing for the Season of Advent that we have now entered into, we have reminded ourselves that this Season, precisely as a season of preparation for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is a penitential season. It is a season to work to remove all that stands in the way of Christ’s filling the entirety of our lives to an ever greater degree so that when Christmas arrives we might recognize Him for who He Is, the very Son of God Incarnate, Who alone rightly claims the offering of ourselves to Him in Love.
This process of preparation requires much patience as the Divine Physician sets about healing us, slowly cutting away every malignant growth of vice and sin that we have allowed to develop within our souls, so that healthy virtuous tissue might grow in their place. The word patience comes from the Latin patientia which is related etymologically to the Latin passio, which means suffering or enduring, or, we might say, both. Our Lord, of course, is the exemplar par excellence of undergoing passio. We recognize this in calling the salvific events whereby He won salvation for the human family His Passion.
Paul tells us that as Christians we share in the very Passion of Christ via baptism, “so that, just as Christ was raised from the death by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Thus, subjection to the hands of the Divine Physician begins at baptism and continues for a lifetime. Drawing from the experience St. Paul recounts of his own life, St. Augustine puts it this way:
Under the doctor’s scalpel don’t you cry out to him to spare you? And because he is indeed there present, he goes on cutting more than ever. Anyway, to show you that God was there present, notice what answer he gave Paul’s thrice repeated plea: He said to me, says Paul, My grace is sufficient for you; for strength is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 12:8-9). “I know”; God is saying, “I am the best doctor there is. I know” (Sermon 163.8).
The word translated in the English here as “strength” is translated in the Latin as virtus, i.e., virtue. God says to Paul virtue, which is participation in the life of the Son Who is the Virtue and Wisdom of God (see 1 Cor. 1:24) is made perfect in weakness. In other words, participation in the life of the Son is perfected within us when we recognize how feeble we are in ourselves to become the saints God created us to be. The only remedy is to seek treatment from the Divine Physician. Yet, as many medical treatments are, the process of healing the soul is painful at times. It is painful to experience the death of the old self which we have mistakenly come to see as our true self. It is painful to have the Divine Physician cut away vices from our souls because we find a false sense of comfort in the routine or lifestyle which surrounds them, or the fleeting emotional high that their exercise gives us. Accordingly, the virtue of patience is our greatest aid in undergoing our spiritual treatment at the hands of the Divine Physician, and, conversely, the vice of impatience a great hindrance.
This is precisely what we find in our prayer service for this Second Sunday of Advent (found below) as we light the second candle on our Advent Wreaths. We will hear St. James exhort us to patience in the reading and in the closing prayer we will pray for the grace not to be distracted by errant desires and vices that tempt us to run from the treatment of the Divine Physician.
The following short prayer service has been put together by the team at FRESHImage for your use as a group as you light the second candle on your Advent Wreath on the Second Sunday of Advent at home with family and friends.
Please be sure to use the prayer services for the Third and Fourth Sundays of Advent as well, which will be made available the Saturday prior to the corresponding Sunday of Advent, and make these prayers part of your family’s annual Advent traditions.
Downloadable versions of the following prayer service are available to registered FRESHImage members.
FRESHImage is a not for profit Catholic apostolate, aimed at providing individuals and communities with the resources to facilitate the full flourishing of the image of God in each and every single human person. When you live a FRESH life, you are a breath of God’s fresh, life-giving air to the world!