Toc…toc…toc… The clock on the wall of the kitchen accuses me this morning of wasting time.
Toc…toc…toc…toc… So many things to do! Prepare retreat Write a homily Work on workshops Immediately. Due right away. Long put-off projects weighing on the conscience.
Toc…toc…toc…toc… So many expectations! Shopping Buying Wrapping Visiting
Toc…toc…toc…tchoc…tchoc…tchec…check Made bed check… Microwaved instant outmeal check… Microwaved chai tea check… wolf down both check… finished before 5:30 (an hour before Mass) check… say morning prayer check… "I will look to the Lord and look forward to the coming of God my saviour." (antiphon for the third psalm)
When prayer becomes a box to be checked, it’s not longer about relationship, but about duty. Prayer becomes something I do, rather than the core of who I am. When prayer is all about what I pray, or what I say, or what I do, then it is less and less about my being.
In a first world life that demands an end to waiting, prayer doesn’t stand a chance. The twenty-five checkout stands at Target promise, “you won’t have to wait to pay.”
Even my oatmeal promises to be instant.
The microwave where I live is used fifty times more often than the oven.
How many ways am I reminded of the time? My watch this computer My Google homepage My phone The car The bank sign (which offers me the temperature, as well – how thoughtful!) The clock on the wall, constantly tocking to me, every second of the day.
No waiting. No waiting. No waiting.
Watch intently, for the Lord our God is very near. (Antiphon for the Benedictus today)
But an essential part of prayer, the lifeblood of contemplation is waiting. Waiting puts the emphasis on the other, rather than me. In a narcissistic world waiting is an affront, an assault on the imperial “I”. In a relationship of love, waiting is delicious anticipation – at least when one knows the beloved will arrive, eventually.
My faith tells me that waiting in prayer, watching, attentive, is one way I can offer myself to my beloved. It’s so simple, even a child can do it. - Come, Lord Jesus. (response to the intercessions at morning prayer today)
It’s so easy, if I just let the limelight shift from me to another. – Come, Lord Jesus.
It’s so easy to wait in prayer. – Come, Lord Jesus.
It’s not a waste of time. – Come, Lord Jesus.
Toc….toc…toc…toc… I just have to die to myself. Ironic, isn’t it, that a euphemism for killing someone is to “waste” them.
Today, December 18, the Catholics Come Home television campaign will begin in a number of places among them: Chicago, Omaha, and here in Colorado Springs. We are involved in training diocesan and parish leaders (I'm busily working on a January seminar at this very moment) to respond to those who contact the Church as a result of Catholics Come Home. I've wanted to blog on the whole issue for a couple weeks but it was hard to find the time to do a decent job. I hope to do so this weekend.
And the wonderful news comes that Pope Benedict will sign the declaration of John Paul II's heroic sanctity on Saturday, making him venerable John Paul II.
This Rome Reports video includes some fun shots of Pope Benedict's desk (looking pretty Bavarian to me) and you gotta love the finale music. No editorializing here!
There are various stories about this carol's mysterious discovery. It was discovered in North Carolina or by Ralph Vaugh Williams in early 20th century Derbyshire. All agree - the song is medieval. 15th century. A Eucharistic Christmas Carol:
Down in yon forest there stands a hall: The bells of Paradise I heard them ring: It's covered all over with purple and pall And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
In that hall there stands a bed: The bells of Paradise I heard them ring: It's covered all over with scarlet so red: And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
At the bed-side there lies a stone: The bells of Paradise I heard them ring: Which the sweet Virgin Mary knelt upon: And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
Under that bed there runs a flood: The bells of Paradise I heard them ring: The one half runs water, the other runs blood: And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
At the bed's foot there grows a thorn: The bells of Paradise I heard them ring: Which ever blows blossom since he was born: And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
Over that bed the moon shines bright: The bells of Paradise I heard them ring: Denoting our Saviour was born this night: And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past--whether he admits it or not--can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love. -Hans Urs von Balthasar
We who pray for the grace to grow closer to our Lord may find an expanded relationship to him through beauty. As Balthasar points out to deemphasize beauty in our pursuit of truth and goodness is to risk losing all three of the transcendentals. Let us pray to know our Lord in his Holy Scripture and in the teachings of the Church. And also in the beauty of the liturgy and our worship. Many wonderful works of art, literature and music have the power to draw us nearer to God if we would welcome them into our lives.
In this season when the commercial nature of the Christmas season often confronts us with schlock and parodies of real beauty we can focus on the love of Christ as it is expressed in true beauty. A few suggestions: spend some time looking into Image (www.imagejournal.org). This a very fine journal and website dedicated to faith and beauty found in literature, music, and art. The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty, by John Saward, is a fine book which explores beauty as found in the lives of the saints and in the works of Christian art.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that "like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty; it is veritatis splendor (the splendor of the truth)." He goes on to say "in Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendor at their source...no mere aestheticism, but the concrete way in which the truth of God's love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love." --Sacramentum caritatis
The 2009 Christmas light display of the season comes from Perth, Austrailia where the family raises money for charity by asking for donations from those who drive by.
The owners write:
50,000 LEDs, 6km cables, 176 channels of light all set to music. See it until Christmas Eve at 5 Bishop Riley Way, Churchlands. We raised $22k for Perth children's hospital last year, we're aiming for $30k this year - as at 15 Dec we're at $8,217.
I have been a fan of Despair.com ever since someone gave me a link to their website. They are a great example of postmodern angst and cynicism - and usually very, very funny, at least from my droll Midwestern sense of humor. As Garrison Keillor has (more or less) said about us upper midwesterns, "we aren't very comfortable with excellence."
They have a whole line of posters known as "Demotivators." The image at the head of this post is an example. They are spoofs of those glossy motivational posters like the one with a man on top of a mountain in a clear blue-skied morning. Below the picture in large red letters is the word, AMBITION, and below it the motivational slogan, "Aspire to climb as high as you can dream."
Demotivators, on the other hand, are meant to "increase success by lowering expectations." I guess I'm at least somewhat influenced by postmodern cynicism because I find most of these hilarious. One of my favorites - although it doesn't apply to the Catherine of Siena Institute - is this one:
CUSTOMER CARE If we really cared for the customer we'd send them somewhere better.
My good friend Fr. Titus Kieninger of Opus Angelorum (www.opusangelorum.org) writes to remind me that the Holy Angels live the Christocentric life. As we see in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him." They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him." They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?"
As we await the celebration of the coming of our Lord let us ask his Holy Angels to intercede for us that we may live our lives dedicated to Jesus Christ. That our thoughts, our words, and our actions may reflect fully His love for us. That we may see in the world the beauty of His creation.
Angelic messengers please carry our prayers to our Lord that He may hear our eternal gratitude for a love beyond compare.
The Advent Conspiracy has gotten the attention of Time magazine which has framed the whole approach as "A Christian Attack on Christmas Commercialism".
But of course, it is much more than that. The Advent Conspiracy is a positive Christian proposal - of giving in other ways that really make a difference to our loved ones and the world instead through gifts that many of us don't want or need.