Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Advent can be summed
 up in five words

Father John J. Lombardi

Advent can be summed up in five words and on the fingers of your hand: Preparation for Christmas and Judgment. We prepare for the Two Comings of Jesus Christ: His first Coming as Man, in the Flesh. And His Second Coming in Judgment when He comes to reclaim all for His Father. So, as spiritualized Catholics, choose Faith (trusting the Trinity) over frenzy (manicness); Mysticism (The Virgin Mary’s real-holy-comely spirituality) over materialism (consumerism = Americanism); Joy (experiencing the God-becomeing-Man) versus jadedness (Scrooge-ism).

Now, three books have hit the bestsellers lists lately, of note. They influence many-hopefully for the good and yet not always so. In his book "The Evolution of God," Robert Wright speaks of religion evolving over time and getting more "sane" and "modern "and implies that God does not really exist independent of us. We know, rather, that God IS, always has been and that our Sacred Religion is Divinely revealed. Advent/Christmas remind us that God came to us and we do not make this stuff up­He brings it to us. Karen Armstrong, in her book, "The Case for God," describes that He is infinite and mysterious. She emphasizes His un-describability and that God cannot be boxed up or become a kinda "pet rock" for us. Familiarity breeds contempt­and disappointment, especially when He doesn’t fit our pre-conceptions and when we fail to worship or emphasize His differentness we can become naVve and over confident­not to mention detached form the mystical traditions of our religion. This is true especially at this time of year when we try to predict when Jesus will return in glory. And, while there is much evil in the world He allows it even though He already came Incarnate; this is a seeming paradox­we cannot figure it, Him, out. So, we do need to worship Him as "Holy Mystery," too! Nicholas Wade describes that we humans are "hard wired for God"­in his book "The Faith Instinct." Namely that there is an incessant bent of humans for the Divine. The downside of this is that some may imply this is an evolutionary development of man and not necessarily revealed or given from God Himself. Advent/Christmas remind us that everyone wants to see God: we all have an incessant desire for the Divine, for God Himself and that, yes, in Christ Jesus He did come to us. So, Come let us worship!

You may see on the bulletin insert the many spiritual events we have planed for you for Advent to make this a Holy Season and not spiritual treason: capitalizing on the Lord’s Birth by Capitulating to materialism

Advent and Christmas Beauty­whether thru Advent-Christmas candles, lights and cards, and spruced up cookies and clothing, tinsel and angels and golden décor: is what we celebrate this Holy Season. Why? Because our Lord-the-Beautiful-One came down from Heaven to help us out of the uglificaiton of sin and de-formation to Original Beauty. Our human nature­once the Image of God Himself­is sometimes crooked, as the Baptist cries out in this Sunday’s Gospel: and by grace we are called to "straighten" it to become Beautiful­like the saints. Our Lord Jesus at the First Christmas took great pains to come to us­to bring us amidst our sinful thoughts, words and deeds into His Divinized Glory.

Pope Benedict writes: we know " that beauty is truth and truth beauty; but in the suffering Christ He also learns that the beauty of truth also embraces offence, pain, and even the dark mystery of death, and that this can only be found in accepting suffering, not in ignoring it. Plato contemplates the encounter with beauty as the salutary emotional shock that makes man leave his shell and sparks his ‘enthusiasm’ by attracting him to what is other than himself. Man, says Plato, has lost the original perfection that was conceived for him. He is now perennially searching for the healing primitive form. Nostalgia and longing impel him to pursue the quest; beauty prevents him from being content with just daily life." This non-contentment is for Catholics and Christians: deep desire for Divinity; confession of sins, avoidance of ugly things­images and words and lifestyles-- that somehow entrap or allure us; straightening out our lives to conform to the Beautiful Life of Christ and His Saints!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi