During this time of Advent, we are called on to rejoice since our salvation is near. The Third Sunday of Advent is also called Guadete Sunday, which means "rejoice". We rejoice in the Incarnation and the Nativity of Lord, which we celebrate during this season. To help you with prayer and contemplation of these mysteries of our faith--God becomes human and dwells among us--here are some of St. Ignatius' spiritual insights from the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises:
The Incarnation "...the Three Divine Persons gazed on the whole surface or circuit of the world, full of people; and how seeing that they were [unable to save themselves], they decide in their eternity that the Second Person should become a human being, in order to save the human race. And thus, when the fullness of time had come, they sent the angel St. Gabriel to Our Lady..."
"The angel, St. Gabriel, greets Our Lady and announces to her the conception of Christ the Lord: 'The angel entered the place where Mary was, greeted her and said: "Hail, full of grace. You will conceive in your womb and give birth to a Son..." The angel confirms what he said to Our Lady by telling her about the conception of St. John the Baptist: "And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age." Our Lady replied..."Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word."'"
The one making the retreat is to "ask for an interior knowledge of Our Lord, who became human for me, that I may love him more intensely and follow him more closely."
The Nativity of the Lord In this Contemplation, the retreatant is called to see in the imagination, "Our Lady...with Joseph and a servant girl leading an ox, set forth from Nazareth to Bethlehem and pay the tribute which Caesar had imposed on all those lands". The Contemplation continues and we see "Our Lady, Joseph, the maidservant, and the infant Jesus after his birth. I will make myself...little...gazing at them, contemplating them, and serving them in their needs, just as if I were there, with all possible respect and reverence. Then I will reflect upon myself to draw some profit. I will observe, consider, and contemplate what they are saying. Then, reflecting upon myself, I will draw some profit". Next, the retreatant is called to "behold and consider what they are doing; for example, journeying and toiling, in order that the Lord may be born in greatest poverty; and that after so many hardships of hunger, thirst, heat, cold, injuries, and insults, he may die on the cross! And all this for me! Then I will reflect and draw some spiritual profit."
These are the mysteries of the Christmas season, which we know well; Ignatius has the spiritual insight to present them in great detail and to encourage us to contemplate them in order to "draw some spiritual profit." May we, who celebrate the Incarnation and the Nativity of Our Lord continue to draw spiritual profit from ever deeper contemplation of these great mysteries.