Emmitsburg Council of Churches

It's Christmas! So let's mediate upon It's meaning

Father John J. Lombardi

God is Love and those who abide in Him abide in God and God in them" (I Jn. 4:16). It's all about Love-Christmas…

L is for Liberation from sin by the Christ-Child.
O is for open your heart to Him Who saved us!
V is for the Victim and Victor of our Salvation.
E is for Emmaunel-God-with-us, and Evangelize His Saving Message!

One of the most famous and beloved verses of the Bible gives us the deepest-highest meaning of Christmas: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believeth in Him might not perish but might have eternal life" (St.Jn. 3:16)

Yes there's a world of difference between "Seasons Greetings" and "Merry Christmas." Words affect reality and our grasp of it. The real meaning of this HolyDay is Jesus Christ-He is the Reason for the Season no matter how much people try to change things.

Mystical Manger Mediation:

Go to the Manger-The King is there. May your soul be lovingly aware: No time to be a stranger. The Divine Light emanates-Virgin suckling the Child: Breathe in the Ray's: inebriate-Make your soul porous mild. Believe He is there, here: Receive Him everywhere. Conceive Him within: The Palace of your soul- Like the Virgin's pure lair.

Now: Imagine yourself by the Manger of Bethlehem-and within your soul. Drop everything else but a sheer openness to God-Incarnate. Kneel there by the CrPche-and within--and adore the Lord Jesus with the Virgin Mary and St Joseph. Receive the irradiating Graces and Light--deeper into your soul and all your body. Be healed by the King of Peace. Let the Grace of the Child-King permeate your whole being so as to bring healing-Light, equanimity's Bliss to you. Accept Him more deeply. Say "Yes" and "Fiat" (like the Virgin) silently with your mind and soul. Allow the Child into your heart. Thank Him for coming to you. Form sentiments of Love in response and…keep Him there.

Cur Deus Homo? Why the God-Man? That is the title of one of the most famous books-and questions-of theology-by St Anselm. Jesus Christ came to reconcile the world (the whole cosmos since it is fallen), and sinners, to Himself, and to restore us humans to our godlike rightful dignity. We are sinners and need God's Grace. We choose sin-wrongful relationships, possessions, habits, over God and fail Him and His Way. Some choose drugs, others choose their careers or hobbies before the Lord, while others become slothful or prideful or avaricious-greedy. God can set us free from these false idols precisely because He became one of us-God-and-man-in-one to show us we can overcome our sins and become more god-like- by His helping grace. Now meditate upon this mystical poem by the Seventeenth-century convert- Polish priest, Angelus Silesius, called "The Ineffable Reversal":

All things are now reversed. The cradle is the cave.

The crib becomes the throne, the night brings forth the day.

The Virgin bears a Child; Reflect, O Man, and say

The heart and mind must be reversed in every way.

Yes: we must reverse and change our ways-of thinking, doing and even be-ing, so God may dwell within us and change our world

My True Identity. Spiritual friend, meditate upon the following. Christ's Birth in time-Christmas--shows us what Eternity and our own "True Identity" is like-in God. After all, the Magi recognized Him as God at His Holy Birth in time. Jesus Christ was and always is God. As eminent theologians (Saints Augustine, Irenaeus, and Thomas Aquinas) have said: "God became man that man might become God". Unlike Christ, though, in and after our birth, we have covered our True Identity up by sin and improper attachments, in selfish fulfillment, in wrongful things and harmful relationships. But, by re-tracing and uncovering our own creation-conception as God created our immortal souls we may realize: I am most fully and completely what I was-when God made my immortal soul. Therefore: as Christ's Birth in literal poverty and nakedness shows, I must strip my own soul of all things-- sinful habits accumulated and "egoic mis-identifications" strangling my soul, to reveal and free my True Identity-"begotten from above" (Jn. 3:3) in God: I am most fully and completely what I was, not when I attach to the world or time, but when I awaken to what God originally created. St John reminds us: "If what you have heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and Father" (I Jn. 2:24). May you awaken to this revelation and anointing and imitate the Incarnate-Jesus Christ and His Way of Salvation!

Divinization: Like a magnet attracting a needle to itself and then refracting its powers to the needle, Christ-the-God-Man passes on Graces and Divinity to us-we participate in the Divine Nature (II Pt. 1:4). ..Angelus Silesius writes: "Come and expand your heart, so God can enter in / You shall His Kingdom be and He shall reign therein."

Truth: "You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free" (Jn.8:32). People are starving for the truth-about themselves, about our world, about morality and spirituality, and we are in constant temptation to lies, heresies and falsities. These may include: "same sex unions"; cohabitation; materialism; culture of divorce; practicing different religions, using contraception or pornography, profaning the Sabbath or Lord's Name. When we truly and deeply seek the Truth in Jesus Christ and His Church by the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will be led into liberating enlightenment into a new, though sometimes hard, Way of Life and be set free. Therefore we should not try, as humans, to seek Truth thru wrongful means. Some may try to flee or "trump" Truth thru genetic engineering, human cloning or fertility clinics or denying our emotions, rather than rightfully perfecting all these in God-ordered, rightful ways.

Prince of Peace: You can choose the hectic hypnotism of the world (treadmills which crate a kind of trembling anxiety) or the joy and equilibrium which comes from deep union with the Lord. Christ came to give us Peace-not-of-this-world but of His Way. Peace means the "rightful ordering of parts"-which are not always in unison or functioning in spiritual union. Peace- within this means in our hearts: And so St Paul exhorts: "Have no anxiety at all" (Phil 4: ) which means we should entrust ourselves to Him Who Is Peace Itself. The power of the Most high will overshadow you…" (Lk. 1: ). A pilgrim was once going thru some depression and anxiety until she made a meditation upon the life of Christ, received and was revived by His graces and allowed Him to help her. She then experienced peace and deeper Union with Him and a "turn-reversal in her daily life. You have a choice: either give in or give up. Give in to constant worry and fueling of anxieties or give up and surrender to His Way.

Grace Perfects Nature: This is a famous and needed axiom of life. We should not try to escape our humanity-Christ came to embrace it: He is, after all the God-Man--theandric.-God and man together perfectly in union As Catholics and Christians we avoid the extremes of totally surrendering to our sometimes-wiley emotions and passions (becoming captive to them) and rejecting them altogether, becoming robots-we are human, after all. So: we purify them and allow Jesus to help us quell and pacify our emotions and human nature until they are subjected to Him, to His Way and holiness and we become more human and, hopefully theandric-like, like the Lord Who took on our human nature and passions in perfect stability and equilibrium.

"I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (Jn. 14:6): We sometimes don't know, or practice, the way to Heaven and holiness. Jesus shows St Thomas and us-that it is thru sacrifice-carrying the Cross and embracing hardship and renunciation; living for others instead of for self. How can you connect the wood of the CrPche with the Wood of the Cross and thank Him for showing you the way? I just received a call from a family who had an endangered pregnancy: the mother (of eight children already) was very sick, along with baby. They got to the hospital and, after safety came, some medical professionals recommended the mom to procure a tubal ligation-which radically distorts God's and Mother Nature's plan for a mom's fertility. They called this Chaplin regarding its morality and I hesitantly informed the dad who eagerly awaited the Church's counsel-that such a procedure is never wholesome, moral or humane. The dad's response in spontaneity and immediacy: "Yes, Father. Thank you." It was like hearing Mary's "Fiat"-a total acceptance and obedience to sacrifice and Love. I was inspired by this man's response and the sacrifice it would require in his, their marital relationship. But: no matter-the Truth, even in sacrifice-was, is liberating and do-able!

True joy: people are always looking for more or new pleasures, and satisfactions or thrills. As Catholics and Christians we strive and hope to realize and find all this in Jesus Christ. In a new book, "Satisfaction," by Gregory Berns, MD., we apparently are hard-wired for satisfaction-seeking, as the brain stimulant dopamine is secreted every time we anticipate or embrace a new experience or heightened action. Satisfaction is found, therefore, in most souls in the seeking and embrace of novelty-new experiences-whether they be food, sexuality or new possessions. Some people may live for this alone, and seek it as the sole god of life (hedonism). However, God Himself is our truest satisfaction- since, by definition, He is infinite Being, Perfection, Goodness and Delight. All other "satisfactions" and novel experiences will end or not totally fulfill: only God is endless Serene Satisfaction and Delight. In the Litany of the Love of God we pray: "Because thou art infinitely Perfect: I love Thee, O My God; because Thou art infinitely worthy of being Loved, I love Thee, O My God." Keep praying these wise verses and transform your mind and soul Think: God-the-Infinite became finite-like to help us embrace the Only Satisfaction that satiates totally.

Reconcile: Though sinless, the Lord comes to us to be at-one-ment with us. So, shouldn't we with each other? Make a Confession soon and then spread the Divine Mercy you receive to others by bridging gaps of separation, and repair past hurts by loving reconciliation and forgiveness.

Pleasing God: Fr Kieran Kavanaugh famous scholar of mysticism and Saints John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila gave a talk here at the Grotto a few weeks ago and said, simply: Love is…Desiring to please God in all things. Do you? "Have this mind in you who was also in Jesus Christ…" (Phil. 2:5)

Evangelize: God did (He left Heaven and came to Earth) so why not you? Recently we went singing Christmas Carols thru a local town, visiting gas stations, hair salons and Laundromats: it was total joy and as traffic stopped, holy cards were handed out and people listened to songs about Jesus and Mary! We then went literally across a back, dark alley, to a semi-covert outdoor auction, where t a couple dozen people gathered (our biggest audience, and therefore our biggest "opportunity"!).. It wasn't Manhattan's Christie's Auction House where they sell million-dollar paintings but a humble place of up-for-grab's crock pots and tea cups-being auctioned for a buck-two-forty. Anyway I asked, somewhat shyly, if we could sing a Carol and the auctioneer stopped his rapid fire auctioneering and allowed us--as the many folks there, hovering over a fire in the dark night listened to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." They all liked it and so did we, thankful at the opportunity to witness-"Christ was born this Christmas Day-O Tidings of Comfort and joy…" Then, despite stopping their revelry, they clapped! They heard a song about Christ coming to mankind and perhaps helped them remember The Reason for the Season. We then asked" Do you have any requests? A funny, unexpected answer came: "Yes-for warmer weather" (!@#). So, no matter what, Go out-like the First Disciples and spread the Good News, no matter the response!

So, at this Christmas- Remember and imitate the Martyrs' love of Jesus' sacrifice; the Virgins' clarity of Sacred Desire; the Doctors' love of Jesus-the-Truth; the Confessor's love of Jesus-the-Liberator from sin; the Victim Souls' love of Jesus-the-Suffering-Redeemer

How to Respond…

Is Christ born into your heart? Ask Him there-let Him live and rule and reign there, for you always have your heart and can carry Him with you. Do you? Attend Mass fervently and frequently. Spend time in prayer and contemplation to allow Him into the Palace of your soul…Read and meditate upon the Bible. .Help others, esp. those who are lonely and sick and outcast…Read about other-sinners-who-became-saints to inspire you…And remember He said: "I came that they might have life, life abundantly" (Jn. 10:10)

Extend the meaning of Christmas into a Season-like-state of mind and soul and celebrate Christ's Coming at all times!

Blessed Virgin Mary, meek and mild, lead us to Jesus, your Christmas Child.

Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi