Monday, December 13, 2010

Third Tuesday of Advent

     Fear Not

Hours of mental anguish can be transmuted into hours of accomplishment by the alchemy of love, if the pain is offered in atonement for sins and in reparation for offenses committed against God.  This can be done by individuals in pain and by nations as a whole when the world is suffering the agony of war and witnessing some of the darkest hours of all human history.  Many a gold star in a service flag denotes the sacrifice of mothers who have given sons to the cause, and of families that have have lost the shepherding hand of a kindly father.
     When the moon hides the face of the sun it is an interesting phenomenon of nature to witness as the earth is darkened by shadow, but there is no one nowadays who is fearful of such an occurrence, for we have learned to know that it is only a passing eclipse and that the sun will soon give its light to cheer the heart of man.  We know that the moon is only a satellite receiving its light from the sun, and after a few fleeting moments the sun will be seen shining in all its brilliance, giving to earth its benediction of light and heat without which we would not live.

     Thus, when the darkness of war casts a shadow across the earth, eclipsing for the moment the brightness of peace, some are fearful, for they lack the assurance and light of faith which is a comfort in times of darkest mental anguish.  They have grown accustomed to living according to the way of the world.  When the lights go out all over the world there is no further hope for them beyond this vale of shadows.  It is not so, however, with the faithful.  Through prayer and a deep abiding belief the man of faith continues to place his trust not in earthly princes but in an all-provident God.  He is aware that man and not God is accountable for the woes of the world and that they are caused by sin!  Thus it is that he offers the agony of heart and the distressing moments of war in prayerful attitude to the Almighty as atonement for his sins and those of mankind.

     The man of faith, in whose heart is the grace of God, believes that Christ is the Light of the World.  Although the darkness of evil on Calvary seemed to blacken out the divine light, yet the man of faith is aware that no human power, however strong, can long withstand divinity's hand.

     The world's excitement, its race to arm men with the weapons that kill, its greed for money and for pleasure have left a deep mark upon our day and age.  Only spiritual remedies can go deep enough to effect a radical change, and only spiritual leadership can help cure our present ills.

     The speed of our day with its love for distraction has seeped way down into the very hearts and souls of men.  It is not just something characteristic of the day.  It is almost an intrinsic quality of our hearts.  It is not the plane or atom that speeds.  It is the heart of man that has learned how speedily to kill.  Spiritual ideals inculcated again in human hearts alone can root out the present evils and give the plan for a better, safer, and a more peaceful world.  A quiet visit to the sick, a prayer uttered in a wayside chapel, a helping hand, an hour made holy before the Eucharistic King, a morning prayer, a fast broken only at the altar with the Eucharistic Lord - such as these must be learned by the children of men if a more peaceful life is to be lived by the followers of the Prince of Peace.  This opportunity is offered each of us during the Advent season - to watch and pray with Christ and Mary and Joseph.

     To inculcate in the minds of the faithful the need for prayer and sacrifice, the Church has set aside special days, called Ember Days, on which these should be practiced in thanksgiving to God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy.  We should prepare and resolve to perform some special act in the spirit of the Ember triduum during Advent, which begins tomorrow.

RAYER

Dear Lord,You promised not to leave us orphans and You have given us a Father on earth in our Holy Father to guide our steps and inspire our hearts.  Today we pray for him through the intercession of our Lady, Queen of Peace.  Give strength to him and abundant grace to give this world spiritual aid.

Third Monday of Advent

Christmas and the Home

G. K. Chesterton, in one of his essays entitled, The Spirit of Christmas, tells of the hustle and bustle, the buying and selling that accompanies this great feast day of the Church's calendar.  He distinguishes between the accidental and essential meaning of the feast.  It is not against gift making that he cautions, but rather he tells of the danger that one may lose sight of the essential meaning of Christmas and cling only to its external and commercial appeal.  He says:  "Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home."

     Essentially Christmas is the feast day of the home and the child.

     We shall celebrate Christmas this year, it is true, by attending holy Mass, by prayers at the crib, and by singing the Christmas carols.  But shall we have the true spirit of Christmas?  It is true, please God, we shall have Christ with us and our love for His Blessed Mother will be warm, tender, wise, and noble.  But any one of us who gives reflection and thought to the world in which we live realizes how far this word is today from the true spirit of Christmas.  A world of unrest, threatened by war, means a temporary disrupting of our homes.  It means for so many young men and women a temporary postponement of marriage, a delay for home building and the rearing of children.  Instead of the sweet innocent play and laughter of children, who give to Christmas its sacred tone and true spirit, we have the roar of motors in the air, the quiet steady smoke of factories throughout the land producing war materials.  Off in the distance can be heard the thunder of mighty cannon and the testing of atomic weapons.

     Great are the upheavals of war.  Among them are the moral dangers to young mean, the lonely hours of young women, the new inducement for women to forget home life and take to industry, the lack of care of the part of parents for children who must be sheltered in nurseries.  This can be our world at Christmas, and while we realize these dangers, we must pray for peace and for a victory with justice to all.  We cannot be like the melancholy Dane and say, "This time is out of joint, O cursed sprite, that ever I was born to set it right."  No, we must pray for the real, true genuine spirit of Christmas - for homes, for children.  For Christmas is the season of the home and the child.  In these two notes are found its true spirit.  He who created the world came into it in the Incarnation and His own received Him not.  As Chesterton remarked, He is "homeless at home."  The great God of heaven and earth becomes a Babe in order to teach us humility.  The omnipotent God came wrapped in the weakness of swaddling bands.  He gave to us the blessings of Christmas - of homes and children.

     There are houses today with nobody in them because now, as of old, there are men who refuse to admit the Mother and Child.  There are hearts today without God in them because they are proud and selfish like the keepers of the inn, and they refuse to admit the Child of heaven, the incarnate One of Bethlehem.  There are Catholic souls today who refuse to accept the Babe in the form of the Eucharist because their lives would have to be remodeled and reverted to the lowliness of belief.  This devoutly to be wished for transformation would make them humble enough to see their foolish pride and to accept the humble Child.

    We pray today for the victory promised through her, the Immaculate One, who will "crush the head of the serpent."  We pray for that spiritual victory which will give America the true spirit of Christmas.

                                       PRAYER                       

     O Virgin Mother of the Babe of Bethlehem, we pray you to intercede for America in our behalf and for spiritual victory.  In our homes we pray that God may send angels to guide us and to make of them sanctuaries.  We pray God, through you, that He give to America a love for the wholesome things of life, to let us see that there can be no nation unless there be homes  in whom there is the true spirit of God and of Christmas.