SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column for December 19, 2000
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
A Christmas Carol to warm the cockles of God's Heart
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ may the Infinite Peace, Joy, Mercy, and Love of Our Dear Lord be with you always.
We are now in the third week of Advent, and our journey with the Holy Family has now reached a point where the distant Bethlehem is just over the horizon. This third Sunday of Advent, once called Gaudate Sunday, means one of Joyous Hope. We are reminded that the difficult journey of life is fleeting, that the heavenly shore which we strive for, is closer than we think. The very thought of Heaven, of being united again to the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, should fill us with such hope that we do not grow tired, but are renewed in our efforts to run the good race, to finish the struggle here below.
The Holy Family, as they journeyed to Bethlehem, knew the prophecies of the Old Testament. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, filled with knowledge from on high, both Mary and Joseph knew that in Bethlehem the Divine Child, the Son of God, would be born. Still, they had to make the journey, they had to struggle. They still had no knowledge of where they would stay, where their next meal would come from. Their journey was one that was filled with the utmost confidence in God. Their care for one another exemplified the sublime charity that we are all called to. That should be our focus in this third week of Advent: Charity.
Charity must rise above just being "nice" to people. We must care about them as God cares about us-Infinitely. We must show them Love, not the human term and meaning of love, but the love that comes from and is the very heart of God. This is a good week to examine our conscience and see where we need to seek forgiveness for our own sins, and to forgive the transgressions of others who have impacted our lives. We need to will to forgive all who have ever caused us injury, and to beg pardon for the injuries we have caused to others, whether known or unknown.
We begin by examining our conscience with a microscope provided by the Holy Spirit. We must not seek to justify any act or occasion of uncharitableness until we have searched long and deep to see if there is any hidden, disguised pride in our actions, words, and even thoughts. Once we have done this we should go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Having done so, we must plead for the strength of God to sustain us in our lives, each day, so that charity may be the rule rather than the exception. We must seek God's help to overcome our frustration, as well as our anger. We must learn that only when we calm our mind do we open our hearts to the flowing mercy of God.
In this way, we are well on the way to preparing our heart, the heart of our soul, for the Infant Jesus to abide in always. We need Jesus to abide in us, and we in Him, in a very real, mystical way so that we may not succumb to our lower human nature and some of its basest human emotions. We must want Christ to abide in us, we must ask for Him to do so. If we think we cannot ask this of Him, then we have not understood the reason that He chose to become as a babe, carried in the womb of His Blessed Mother, why He chose to be born in Bethlehem, in a mean, cold stable, with only a few shepherds and their animals to keep Him company, along with His Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.
Do we truly understand the wonder, the awe of the coming of the Infant Savior? It is not something we can grasp if we lack in faith, hope, and love. If we are too distracted by external preparations for a secular Christmas, we have missed the entire point of the season of Advent, and the advancing season of Christmas. If we are distracted by external influences each day, then we are locking God out of our lives, and trying to go it alone.
Many years ago, my mother, may she rest in peace, gave to me a prayer to say during Advent. I was about eight years old when she first showed me this prayer, helped me to say it, helped me to memorize it, and to understand the beauty of Christmas in my own heart. I would like to share this prayer with you now, and humbly suggest that if the Holy Spirit leads you to say it, then praise God! If, however, the Holy Spirit leads you to other prayers, then God be praised!
It is a short prayer, but one I have always found very, very powerful:
"Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most Pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that Hour, vouchsafe, O My God, to hear my prayer and grant my request (here mention your petition) Amen.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us continue this journey together with the Holy Family. Let us be a prayer support for one another, thus developing within our hearts that sublime charity which transforms us into the very image and likeness of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us sing this unifying Christmas Carol of Love that will echo in the Heavens and warm the Most Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus and His Blessed Mother's Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart.
These are difficult times…times of stress, anxiety, overwork, long commutes, planning and preparation, etc. Let us take these things in the proper frame of mind: God alone is our goal; God alone is in charge; let us do all things For Him, With Him, and In Him, for His Honor and Glory, and we shall find that the Infant Jesus will be born anew in our hearts in just a few days hence, in a way in which He shall remain with us at all times.
Only in this way, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, will we discover that it is He who will help us to attain the degree of holiness to which He has ordained us, and it is He Who will help us never, ever to offend Him, even in the slightest way again.
That, my dear brothers and sisters is Bethlehem. That, my dear brothers and sisters is the eternal song of the angels on high, a song sung to poor shepherds on that night in Bethlehem, and a song which must reverberate within our own soul, our own heart, each day, at every instance, so that we, too, may rejoice and be glad that unto us is born the Savior of the World.
Your very little sister in Christ,
December 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 266
SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING
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