How to Prepare for “Subara”


The Messiah was born in Bethlehem, and from the East, Magi came to honor him. They asked, and said: “Where was the king born? For we have come to bless and adore him.” (Basilica Hymn)

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote that there were two classes of men who visited the Christ, the Majestic King of all, as a babe in his crib.  “Shepherds: those who know they know nothing.  [And] wise men: those who know they do not know everything… Only the simple and only the wise find Christ, because both are humble; both acknowledge either ignorance or the limitation of human knowledge.”  This season of Advent, Subara, that we have entered, contains one of the great Mysteries that was revealed to us, a Mystery that cannot even now be completely fathomed by human investigation.

The great Mystery that had been hidden for centuries and for generations has been revealed to us in the final age: the Only-Begotten, who is in the Womb of his Begetter, came and assumed the form of a servant in his grace; and he related and revealed to us the perfect faith of the Trinity. (Basilica Hymn)

The humility that the shepherds and wise men had is the same humility that calls us into trust in and obedience to God’s self-revelation and His Church.  It is a humility that recognizes the great Love that God has for us: Love that was manifested to us in such a real and personal way that it became Incarnate for our sake.  The event of Christmas is a love story, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3)

It is the Love of God, the Perfect Being who did not need us, that led to all of creation.  It is that same Love that, although we had fallen of our own fault, and although Justice did not demand it, and in an act of overabundance, led to Mercy being given to us.  It is Love that led the second Person of the Holy Trinity, to regard us so highly as to humble Himself and take on our manhood:

Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
–Philippians 2

For our salvation, it was enough that the Word condescended to our level, to bring us up to His: God became a man, so that man might become God. (St. Athanasius) One cry, one tear from the Babe was enough for the infinitely good God to redeem mankind.  Yet, in the superabundance of His love, He would continue to death even on the Cross.  But His passion and resurrection are yet to come in our liturgical year, so we will meditate on His birth.

This is a season of hope to be sure.  The angel said to Zechariah, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.”  To Mary he said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”  And he assuaged Joseph, her betrothed, and let him know the hope that was to come, “She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  The great Mystery that was awaited from times of old would be revealed, the salvation awaited for was upon them, that which was prophesied by the Holy Spirit through the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’

How do we prepare for this great act of Love that is Christmas?  Shall we be like the Magi, who travelled from Persia seeking Him that they may adore Him, or will we force Him to be born away from us, in a manger, because there was no place for Him in the inn.  The book of Ecclesiasticus provides counsel, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility.”  Humility leads us to obedience to His commands.  We accept His teachings, as guarded by His Church, and obey her mandates, since She is the Bride and Body of our Lord, and He is Her Head.  Humility makes us rely on Him, the all-powerful Lord of hosts, and this reliance leads us to prayer.  In this season of Advent, let us turn to prayer in even greater earnestness.

We seek Him in humility.  And how do we find Him?  Our Lord Himself declared, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  The Word incarnate is the icon of God, therefore we must be pure of heart to see Him.  Along with obedience and prayer, we need to purify our hearts, putting away vices such as anger, jealousy, avarice.  We must make peace with our brethren, and pray for our enemies.  Above all, we must be diligent and vigilant, lest we should fall into greater pride.  In his nativity hymns, St. Ephrem offers us great advice on how to keep this vigil before his coming:

Indeed, my friends, let us not forget in our wakefulness:
illicit is the vigil of one who does not watch as he should.
Deep sleep is the vigil of one who watches unworthily;
its opposite, too, is the vigil of one who watches unchastely.
The vigil of a jealous man is an abundance full of emptiness,
and his watch is a matter full of scorn and disgrace.
If an angry man keeps watch, his vigil is disturbed by anger,
and his watch itself becomes full of wrath and curses.
If a garrulous man keeps vigil, his mouth becomes a thoroughfare
useful for destroying but wearisome for prayers.
If a discerning man keeps vigil, he chooses one of two:
either he sleeps sweetly, or he keeps vigil righteously.

Serene is the night on which shines for the Serene One Who came to give us eternity.
Do not allow anything that might disturb it to enter upon our watch.
Let the path of the ear be cleared; let the sight of the eye be chastened;
let the contemplation of the heart be sanctified;
let the speech of the mouth be purified.

One final thing we must attend to during this season.  Christ was really among us, firmly in history.  His coming to us was possible through the cooperation of His saints, who through His grace were allowed a part in our salvation History.  Let us strive to imitate them, while turning to them in prayer, asking that they may pray for us to our Lord.

The Holy Family played an important role during Christ’s nativity.  St. Joseph was entrusted the care of the child Jesus and his betrothed, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Above all, we turn to her, Mary, the Holy Mother, who played the most important role in bringing about the Incarnation of the Word.  Filled with grace, she would assent to fully subjugating herself to the Lord’s will, for the sake of the world: ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’  With this Fiat, she became the new Holy of Holies, containing within her the uncontainable, becoming the new Eve, the mother of Christ, the mother of His Church.

The daughter of man became the Tree of Life for the whole mortal race, for the Glorious Fruit which dawned from her pours forth and grants all benefits. (Basilica Hymn)

2 Responses to “How to Prepare for “Subara””

  1. aboriente Says:

    The Basilica Hymns that are quoted are from various weeks during the season of Advent. The English translation can be found in the Basilica Hymns section of

    Subara is how we call Advent, and it literally indicates the Annunciation.

  2. Ian Says:

    Wonderful words and a wonderful meditation, and call, to us in the season of Subaru/Advent. Thank you.

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