Thursday, December 23, 2010

Words from Fr Ed (From Christmas Bulletin 2010)

The Good News
Glory to God in the highest and on earth to those on whom his favor rests.

I’d like to wish each and every one who comes through our doors this Christmas Season a very Merry Christmas and a New Year that is filled with the Presence of Christ. We have cause for rejoicing here! God, who sent His only Son, intends for us to have a great year, no matter what circumstances are occurring in our lives, even the things that we may not be able to control. We do, however, have control over how we respond to situations in our lives, and can do so with love in the name of Christ. He who is called ‘Emmanuel’, God-with-us, does not just come at Christmas, but desires to ‘remain with us’. As Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”

Have you been able to ‘remain in’ Christ this Christmas Season? It is easy to make resolutions about Advent and see them broken one-by-one. Our desire for prayer, silence, and quality time with loved ones, can all be lost in the hustle and bustle of the ‘season’. But who is in charge of the ‘season’? Is it Hallmark? Or Wal-Mart? Or Wall Street? We Catholics are called to a different kind of season. We celebrate a liturgical season that extends beyond the gift exchange and the parties. For us, Christmas Day is just the beginning of a Christmas Season that lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord on January 9th.

One of my favorite Christmas stories is Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I have especially enjoyed the more recent movie with Jim Carrey as the Grinch. His humorous portrayal brings the character into real time and lends insight into the things that can steal Christmas for us today. As the innocence of little Cindy Lou Who conquers his heart, which is ‘two sizes too small’, the Grinch begins to realize that Christmas is not really about material gifts.

We can learn from this in the face of the deluge of consumerism that hits us at Christmas time. Sales surround the Feast Day as if it was the only reason it exists. Time is marked by pre-Christmas and post-Christmas sales. They orient us in an almost ‘liturgical’ way attempting to get us into a procession to their outlets for the ritual of shopping. But, as Catholics, our liturgical rituals restore a right order in the soul. The Three Wise Men of Epiphany give us a procession of adoration and thanks to the newborn King. The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family gives us a model for protecting human life. The procession of sinners to John the Baptist gives us a vision for repentance and renewal. All these processions can lead us into a new direction in our lives.

When the presents have been unwrapped, the eggnog is consumed, and the family is dispersed, what remains in our hearts? Have they grown three times larger like the Grinch’s? Have we discovered the fullness of joy that lay in a manger two thousand years ago? This present should not be ignored or discarded with the Monday morning recycle. It is worth our every effort to remain in Him, even as He remains in us. May each of you take the time with Jesus that we need this Christmas Season to give new birth to our souls. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to God. May all of you have a joyous Christmas Season.

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