Showing posts with label Reflection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reflection. Show all posts

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas is a season

Merry Christmas! I hope that this season is one of peace and joy for all. Christmas is a season - it only begins on December 25. The Twelve days of Christmas, of carol fame, begins - not ends - on Christmas day. Indeed, the twelve days ends on the feast of the Epiphany, we we remember three events in which Christ is revealed to the world (the arrival of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, and the first miracle at the wedding at Cana). Different cultures have different endings of the season culturally, for example marks is through February 2 (the feast of the Presentation), while others end with the official end of the liturgical season on the Baptism of the Lord, this year January 9. There is something profoundly human (and humane) about this. We prepare for Christmas with another season, Advent, to prepare our hearts to celebrate His birth, but also for His glorious return in the Second Coming. In the Church, we need that time to prepare. While not as intense as Lent, it is a season in the Catholic and Orthodox churches marked by prayer and penance (and even fasting by some). But after such preparations, we also need to to celebrate, and do so for more than one day! Why all this preparation and celebration? Because Christmas is so much more than celebrate a birthday, thought true it is that in part. The Church recalls that Christ was born, but also that He will come again, and when better than when we celebrate His first birth. For a deeper understanding of the meaning of His birth, we need look no further that to some of the carols that we sing during this season. Hark the Herald Angels Sing tells us "God and sinners reconciled”. Silent Night proclaims “the dawn of redeeming grace.” The First Noel reminds us that with His [Christ’s] blood mankind hath bought.” Indeed every Christmas hymn (the religious ones, anyway) tell us the story of the Birth and the reason behind it. Clearly, this is no mere child, but is a Divine Being with a heavenly purpose. Being the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (the persons of the the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit in the one Being of God), Jesus took flesh (the Incarnation) in the womb of Mary, and He was born in a humble stable. While some might quibble about the date, the fact is that He was born, and we celebrate that fact. God became Man, became one of us, so that He would lead us to Himself. He was born that He might offer His life to the Father to redeem us. This is the core of the Christian faith, which begins with Christ’s Incarnation and Birth. He came to die on the Cross to bring the Father’s grace and loving presence to us. With that noble purpose, we need much more than one day. So sing long and well those glorious songs of Christmas and share the joy of our salvation with all.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day

This week, we have a Holy Day of Obligation - All Saints Day. We attend Mass to glorify God for what He did through the Saints, and we gather to honor those who have responded as disciples of the Lord. The saint we honor are both the canonized and uncanonized. In reality, we cannot celebrate and honor all the saints with an individual day, so we set this one date for all of them. There is something good in this, after all, we, too are invited to be saints, and remembering all the saints remind us that there is only one common factor in the lives of the saints - their love of God and desire to serve Him. This is done by the poor and rich, young and old, powerful or lowly, male or female. Sanctity transcends cultures, political leanings, and languages. Leon Bloy once wrote, "The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint." How true, because God has made us for Himself, as St. Augustine writes, and anything less than union with Him is to fail to be ourselves!
On Wednesday, we commemorate All Souls' Day, remembering all who have died. It would be most appropriate to visit a cemetery if possible, to offer a prayer for our dearly departed, and to pray for them. We do not have certainty of their current state - heaven united with God, condemnation because of their rejection of Him, or in the state of purification (Purgatory) where they are purged from the attachments to sin, having been forgive of them already. Because of this, this day offers us the reminder to pray for them.
But these days are also a gentle reminder to us to remember and prepare for our own death. As an epitaph on a grave stone puts it, "Remember me as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I, As I am now, so you must be, Prepare for death and follow me." Put more succinctly: Remember death - Momento mori.
All s


Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween???

Every Halloween, I hear the debate of whether Christians should celebrate it. I have to remind people of how they celebrate it makes a difference. Certainly, remembering the very word “Halloween”’s Christian roots - a contraction and corruption of the phrase “All Hallowed Eve” - we can recall that it is a time to remember all those holy men and women who have loved the Lord and are with Him in eternity. But we might also remember the sweetness of a life lived with God’s love, and the joy of such a promise of eternity. We might even, to a certain extent, delight in the fact that we as Christians can laugh at the face of death, because it has been concurred by the Risen Christ.
But there is a more sinister celebration - the embracing the secularized or even re-paganized side. Here, there is an infatuation with death and the occult. There is a growing ‘epidemic’ of witchcraft. Occult practices are on the rise, and ‘darkness' is creeping into society. Symbols that once terrorized are now celebrated. Nothing is more obvious of this to me than the culture’s embracing of the vampire lore. Now, with popular books placing vampires in a positive light (one ought to be carefully doing this lest they burst into flames), they are removed from the spiritual moorings that once terrified listeners, and served as a warning to not become like them. They are seen with pity, or desire.
Not too long ago, the vampire was a symbol of sin - a creature neither alive or dead. They were in need of drinking blood to remain in its state, which they took from innocent prey. Vampires rejected the life that God gave, and the first in the legend rejected God to become an servant of Satan. They are doomed to wander the night, for fear of bursting into flames in the light of the sun. They do not even give a reflection in a mirror. So twisted are they that they are forced to sleep in caskets. Indeed, this is a creature completely consumed by sin - soulless creatures who feed upon the blood and fears of others.
But for the Christian, like Halloween itself, we remember the roots of the vampire lore. It serves as a stark reminder of a life rejecting the Lord doomed to a life of the un-living. Contrast vampires with who a Christian is to be: a creature in perfect union with our creator, living life to the full. A Christian is to serve others, not feed on them. They seek to live in the light of day and of God’s grace. They are to mirror the love of God, and live as a reminder that all are created in the image and likeness of God. A Christian has died to a life of sin, but live the life of Christ now in them. This is because a Christian has concurred the tomb of Baptism, rising victorious with Christ in His resurrection. In the end, we have nothing to fear of vampires, but we are to remember what they symbolize.

All are called by God to love Him.

All are called to serve Him.

Some are called to special lives of service,

to give witness to God's love through being a priest, religious brother, or sister.

Is He calling you?