Archive for December, 2010

 

Awakening Consciences

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

In case you missed it, last Saturday parishes and dioceses throughout the world celebrated a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life.” This unprecedented event was the initiative of Pope Benedict XVI, who presided at the vigil held at St. Peter”s Basilica in Rome.

The Pope”s homily for the occasion beautifully tied together the themes of Advent (the event coincided with the beginning of Advent) and a resounding pro-life message. The following paragraph from the transcript of the homily seems to be getting the most play, and deservedly so:

“There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary’s womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: ”he who will be a man is already one” (Apologeticum IX, 8); there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.”

For the full text of the Pope”s homily, click here.

  

Christmas Don”t Be Early

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

As a child I really liked the Chipmunks” Christmas album, including the classic “Christmas Don”t Be Late.” What little kid isn”t eager for Christmas day to finally get here?

However, as Christmas has become more of a secular holiday than a religious celebration in the minds of many, some of the liturgical and theological nuance of the feast has become obscured. In particular, we don”t know exactly what to do with Advent anymore. Our society doesn”t fully appreciate the season as one of joyful anticipation, of vigilant expectation, of penance and spiritual renewal, of recalling Christ”s first and second coming. Heck, the Jews had to wait thousands of years for the first Christmas, but we can’2012-04-24 18:33:03′t even wait four weeks!

Where I see this most acutely is in the way we celebrate with Christmas lights, parties, and carols throughout all of Advent, as though it were already the “Christmas season.” In fact, the pc way of greeting people this time of year is by saying “Seasons Greetings.” I”m all for lights, parties, and carols, but not if they take away from the actual celebration of Christmas. By the time Christmas finally rolls around, we”ve had our fill of all these things.

In reality, Christmas season only begins on Christmas!  That”s why we have songs like “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Like Easter, Christmas is too important of a feast to celebrate on one day, so it has its own octave (weeklong celebration)  and season. Yet, once we open our gifts on Christmas, we”re all partied out. We take our trees to the curb on the second day of Christmas, and then we begin the “pseudo-Advent” of preparing for New Year”s Day and bowl games.

Everyone celebrates Christmas differently, and that”s wonderful. But I invite all of us to see this present time of Advent as more of a time of preparation, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.