When I first started taking my faith seriously again in May of 2005, I recall how amazed for the first time in my life with the words emphasized slowly, and several times in succession by my pastor in a homily:
Christmas would never be the same for me after that. Gone was the secular notion of the holiday with it's emphasis on excessive gift giving and lack of emphasis on Christ.
Every weekend of my life I went to Mass unless I was sick, and I listened to the Old and New Testament readings, as well as the psalm. Unfortunately, I never "heard" them. Over these past four years, I have paid even closer attention. One of the things that still amazes me is how something could be prophesied so many centuries earlier in the Old Testament and be fulfilled so precisely in the New. People look for miraculous signs and wonders all the time, yet Sacred Scripture contains many.
With Advent now here, pay close attention to the readings at Mass, and in the breviary if you read it. In particular, follow the psalms and readings in the Office of Readings (OOR). This part of the breviary takes on themes, such as Advent (with a shift in the 2nd reading, if there is a feast day). If you don't have a breviary, or if you have the shorter version without the OOR, you can use Universalis which updates daily. While the translation makes it ineligible for those who are required to recite the OOR, like priests, it is just fine for most of us. It has come a long way from where I recall it years ago, when it didn't even have Lauds and Vespers complete.
This post was prompted by an early morning viewing of a rerun of Fr. Pablo Straub's Advent reflections on EWTN. As soon as I turned on the television, I was met with Isaiah 7:10-14. As Father suggested, commit Isaiah 7:14 to memory. Keep in mind Isaiah lived in the 8th century B.C.
Isaiah 7:10-14 (RSV-Catholic Edition)
10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11 "Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." 12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test." 13 And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14* Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman* shall conceive and bear a son*, and shall call his name Immanu-el. *
20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21* she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23* "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.
* Note on "a young woman" in the Isaiah passage....in some translations the word used is "virgin". The Ignatius Bible which is RSV-CE uses a footnote at the bottom to indicate the alternative translation.
There are some arguments out there which challenge the messianic nature of Isaiah 7:14. Fr. William G. Most, writing for EWTN, goes very deep into this issue in, "The Problem of Isaiah 7:14".
If that document is too deep for you, Fr. Echert offers a more simple explanation, for those wanting it.
Now is a good time to point out the nice resource page that EWTN has on Advent. The USCCB site has also put together an Advent page.
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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!