O Come Emmanuel

Today is the first Sunday of Advent; the beginning of our preparation for the Christ-Child. And as we do most years, we sang ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ at Mass this morning. That beautiful and mournful and hopeful hymn that has always been part of my life touched my heart in a new way this year.

O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel; that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear

Lonely exile. LONELY EXILE. LONELY EXILE! Those two words kept reverberating in my head. And that’s how I felt (how I feel). In lonely exile here. Our Church has been so busy lately defining what it means to be a Catholic Christian that I feel marginalized.

If you vote for this person you CAN’T really be Catholic; if you support women’s ordination you CAN’T really be Catholic; if you love and support gay families you CAN’T really be Catholic; if you don’t walk in lock step with the Bishops then you CAN’T really be Catholic.

And so I’m an exile. I refuse to exclude; to hate; to judge; to deny love to those who may not follow ALL the rules.

I’ve decided to join the other ‘lonely exiles’ in prayer this Advent season. I will pray for (and with) others in my Church who may feel disenfranchised; who feel left out; shut out; and alone. We may be silenced but our silent prayers cannot be stopped. And we are companions on the journey. God alone listens to our hearts and responds.

O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all humankind; Bid thou our sad divisions cease, And be thyself our Prince of Peace.

Advent 2012May you find love, joy, comfort, but mostly peace in this Advent season.



One thought on “O Come Emmanuel

  1. This is very powerful, Denis. Thank you. As a Protestant with an evangelical background, I’ve certainly experienced the same sense of being disenfranchised. I told someone the other day that I think I’ve become a hybrid…I’m a Christian without a true identity in the church. On the other hand, I cling tightly to my identity in Christ. Merry Christmas–all month long. I will be thinking about “lonely exile” and seeing what that may mean to me this season.

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