We kiss Him yesterday and kill Him today.
Gazing and immersing myself at the Nativity, my joy is a little more tempered this year. For the first time in my life the Crucifix and Corpus of Christ on the periphery of my vision at Church and at home kept calling my attention. Reminding me of how the wordly respond to the love of this precious child who offers us truth and salvation. It took discipline to return to the manger in Bethlehem.
My two youngest enjoy a Christmas Eve Mass where the children do a live nativity at the homily. I sit in the back and every year as they set up in the Narthax, I watch the majority of people turn their backs to the altar as we pray the Confeteor and prepare our souls for the reception of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. They are watching the commotion, grinning and enjoying the innocence, the gifts and witness these young children will offer our sweet Lord on this holy night.
Usually, I am ripping my hair out over the commotion and distractions as they set up, taking the attention from the prayer of our Sacred Liturgy on this Sacred day when Salvation was made Flesh. This year, I found myself praying to and for their guardian angels. Praying that the display of love the families of these children offered Christ would grab some of them. Enlighten them to the purpose of Christ's Life. His loving gift that offers us salvation in return for sincere repentance of sin, the amendment of our lives and the Sacraments of His Church that enlightens and strengthens us.
I watched the little boys walking down the aisle dressed as the Magi and shepherd, carrying their gifts of innocence and love, the little girls dressed as angels and thought about what happened in Bethlehem on that night. In a sleepy village teaming with guardian angels of so many and all the angels and archangels who accompany the King of kings bringing salvation and the Queen of Angels, yet only a handful heard them, saw, understood.
How frustrated our guardian angels must be as they speak to us, try to guide us to perfect love and protect us from evil and sin. We are our own worst enemy.
As I watched the magi, I thought about troubling conversations over the past year. Conversations with priests like Unni, those who are poor in spirit duped into the inanity that the love of God can be found in promiscuity, adultery, impurity and sin. I couldn't escape the symbolism of the lust, pornography, impurity, leading people they claim to love into the abyss of sin and the many who carrying them to the manger as their offering of wisdom and love to the Christ Child.
The words of St. Paul ring out "The sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of God."
We are a people who are born with attractions to sin. We are attracted like moths to the flame to sin because there is pleasure to be found in them. In the first stages of temptation, we see the pain they cause to God and our neighbor. There is a period of making excuses. We invent the excuses and seek out those whose definition of love is blessing our excuses to sin. We have reached the stage in the Archdiocese of Boston where there are priests like Fr. Unni who will stage the Sacrament of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to bless our sins. I never thought I would live to see such profound perversity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but the day has arrived.
Imagine how deep perversity is buried when a priest blesses it with a Sacrament?
People who live in the spirit see a man who comes to the physician for healing and they watch the physician put his body in a casket and bury him alive. Over the deafening sounds of tambourines celebrating the malpractice, we cry out 'MY GOD, how will this man get himself out of this grave?"
Incredulously, the Archbishop of Boston announced he is using Fr. Unni as O'Malley's Manifesto to build 'the church'. It is harder to look upon the Holy Face of the Christ Child and feel the joy without also feeling it through a heavy heart.
Though God speaks to you incessantly through nature, there is a more intimate communication going on between you and your God that is just as incessant. Down deep in you is what mystics speak of as "the high point of the soul". It is really the ground of your substantial self. There the God who made you sustains you. There, it may well be imagined, that gift named sanctifying grace inheres. There the Trinity make its abode as Christ promised. It is there those assurances arise that all is well, those stirrings of the nobler part of you, those promptings to be and to do better than you have ever been or done. It is there that many believe God speaks incessantly to each and every human being, whether each listens or not. For one can turn the inner ear away from God. One can become harder and harder of hearing, until one is totally deaf. On the other hand you can make your ear so keen that God need never more than whisper to you. Then not only will you see God everywhere, but you will hear His voice in everything and most especially in those ever tone-true stirrings of your conscience. That is what carries God's messages to you no matter where be the place of His dwelling within you and the point of converse.
There is only one posture in which to receive the Word and that is on your knees. Let David speak to you before his Son does. Let the Shepherd-King give wise advice before the Lamb of God and the King of kings utters a sound. Let this one who was called a "man after God's own Heart" look at you with burningly serious eyes and say: "Today, if you hear His Voice, harden not your heart".
The first thing the Word says to you is: "kindly remember I am Wisdom".
Love Does Such Things, Rev Fr. Raymond, OCSO
I harbor no delusions about the exhausting vocation of my own guardian angel. I am attracted to my own flames. Some of them are on display 24/7. It is a discipline for me to suffer fools gladly. Of late, I hear my guardian angel's simple message: "Avoid the near occasion of sin." Sometimes I hear the whisper. Other times, he has to speak a little louder before I hear it. Occasionally, I will hear his panicky voice "AVOID THE NEAR OCCASION OF SIN....OH NO..NO! NOoooooooo!! THAR SHE BLOWS!"
"Listen Buster, go back to our Master and tell him how about we avoid the near occasion of sin with the ancient maxim "Promoveatur ut amoveatur"? That way he avoids the near occasion of sin; Unni and his kindred priests avoid the near occasion of sin; the people they led into sin avoid the near occasion of sin - along with me? How about that? Because this is just not working out for us!"
But Carol is not wisdom. God is Wisdom.
Perhaps my New Year's Resolution should be paying closer attention to the panicky voice of my guardian angel. Pray for him - the poor thing tethered to this wild stallion - and pray for me.