Let’s get away from the crowd
Time goes so fast, doesn’t it? These blessed days of Advent are slipping away far too quickly. Christmas Day’s a week from today! And there are numerous holy practices still to be done. Let’s get away from the crowd and use these days to make straight the path of the Lord.
Before dissolving into panic, a reminder: Christmas isn’t a day but a season. The Christmas Octave is eight days long, the Christian liturgy stretches the merciful, miraculous celebration ofJesus’s birth into eight holy days. And then the Christmas season continues for another twelve days though to Theophany: Epiphany, the Baptism of Our Lord.
This four-week-long little Lent is about hope, peace, joy and love.
Why call Advent a little Lent?
Because each of us needs the three-pronged stool of fasting, penance and almsgiving to smooth the path of our souls for Him to find rest. In a recent post, I quoted a locution from the Lord to an online friend.
“I gave you that gift at confirmation but you’ve not yet opened it.”
There are worlds contained in that phrase of His.
if our minds are filled with junk news, are we capable of opening the gift of understanding?
How can we access the gift of Good Counsel when we uncritically read surveys claiming that most of us don’t believe that it’s His Body and Blood we consume each Sunday? When you look around at Mass, I’ll wager you see what I see: God’s holy people in grateful receipt of real food and real drink.
We need solitude, silence and a quiet mind to flush out the debris. Let’s get away from the crowd for this last week of Advent.
The sin ceiling lowers
as we progress in faith. Once we begin to glimpse the horror of sin, mortal sins no longer beckon. And the venial sins once thought of as insignificant, now loom larger, becoming gigantic.
Repeating things that are of no benefit to others.
That cause them distress, fear or sadness.
Watching or reading movies or books that at best, waste our time. At worst, titillate to the point of sexual arousal.
Ignoring the nudge to befriend the solitary man who dresses oddly and shouts rather than talks.
Filling our minds with the daily horrors and lies of our world. And justifying the addicition with claims that we must, it’s our responsibility to ‘know what is happening.’
Denying ourselves joy.
Perhaps that’s the worst of the list.
In a fascinating piece called This is Satan’s only real enemy: Take it Seriously, Fr. Peter John Cameron, “a big believer in joy’” writes:
“…But so often we remain oblivious to that Presence, giving short shrift to joy. Joy by definition is the gladness, the satisfaction that appears when our will possesses something which leads to our genuine happiness….And here is the wondrous thing about joy: Joy can coincide with sadness—because of the promise joy contains. But, joy cannot coexist with fear! Why do we end up becoming manipulated by fear, surrendering our life’s joy? Because we are no longer anchored by The Promise. We no longer have our gaze fixed on The Promise. As long as we are afraid, we are not looking for love. Instead, when menaced by something, we’re on the lookout for power. Keeping our eyes focused on The Promise is what Advent is all about.”
The reason for the season
is a hackneyed phase, trite. It’s said by those of us who get annoyed by the relentless secular commercialism, sappy Hallmark movies and saccharine sentiments of Christmas. (couldn’t resist the alliteration, sorry.)
But, like almost everything, it depends on how you look at it. The excessive cheer reveals a fundamental truth about humanity: We need joy!
Even in this secular wasteland of modern America, where the true meaning of the holiday is widely ignored, the celebration of Christmas is nevertheless widespread. The festival is kept with great fervor and gusto, even by those to whom the birth of Christ means nothing. It seems clear to me that what motivates these continual celebrations is the hunger for jollity. This “Christmas spirit” is a thing of such grandeur that even those who are ignorant of its ultimate source crave it. The pure and unadulterated joy which provokes such wholesome cheerfulness is so beautiful that it cannot help but be attractive.