St. John Henry Newman—Shrinking from Christ’s Coming
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“Consider what it is you mean by praying, and you will see that, at that very time that you are asking for the coming of His kingdom, you are anticipating that coming, and accomplishing the thing you fear.”
I don’t know about you, but every Advent I find myself faced with the same dilemma: how to pray for Christ’s coming, even as I am increasingly aware of my own need for conversion—and more time to set about converting. There’s a nagging fear in the back of my mind that, if Christ comes too soon, I won’t be ready. So when I pray along with the Church, “Come, Lord Jesus,” my heart, nevertheless, seems sometimes to whisper, “Just not quite yet.”
Of course, that’s not the Church’s prayer, which indeed is an urgent one. And somehow this Advent, with everything going on in the world, seems more urgent than ever. It feels like the very stones are crying out “Come, Lord Jesus”—and not because things are all in their proper order... in my own heart perhaps least of all.
So how to resolve this seeming paradox, to pray for Our Lord’s coming even as His Coming necessarily involves the end of our time for conversion?
It’s precisely that question which Newman addresses in this sermon. His reflections here have informed the way I’ve approached Advent so far, and I hope they will for you too.
From all of us at CatholicCulture.org, we wish you a prayerful, penitential, and hopeful Advent.
Shrinking from Christ’s Coming Full text: http://www.newmanreader.org/works/parochial/volume5/sermon4.html
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