During his homily for the second week of Advent, our priest talked about time. We are born in time, we live in time, and we die in time. We measure out every activity of our lives in time. All in preparation for eternity, which has no time, as we know it. Eternity is the perpetual NOW, according to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. I can’t even begin to imagine a perpetual NOW. It’s one of the exciting ideas to look forward to and discover the answer to the mystery of how can that be when, hopefully, I reach the pearly gates. Father’s talk also raised other issues I hope to learn about when my time comes–what do all the saints in Heaven do in this eternal NOW? We are so used to being active (or passive) in our daily living, it’s hard to conceive of what happens in the spirit world.
I was a fan of the television series, Touched By An Angel, when it was shown and liked the idea of an angel welcoming me to Heaven’s gates when the time came. But what happens after that? Fear of the unknown is a very real thing that makes us reluctant to want to “cross over” and yet, we know it’s going to happen to each one of us at some point in time. We just don’t know how or when. (I won’t get into the issues of suicide because that is not the point of this blogpost.)
The Church, in its wisdom, has set aside four weeks before Christmas to help Christians pray and learn how to prepare for this final moment in Time. It has also become a time of feverish shopping, baking, and making family plans for the day, itself. All well and good, and necessary, but we should also take time as often as we can to attend to more spiritual preparations–reminders of why we celebrate Christmas. Reading Scripture passages related to the coming of Christ–both His physical birth and the final coming at the end of Time–; reading from a book about God’s Mercy and Forgiveness; learning the role of Mary, His Mother; stories behind the symbols of Christmas (the tree, lights, carols) are just a few of the ways we can take a few moments for reflection. Does your church offer special services at this time? Are there things you can do to help bring some of the Christmas joy to less fortunate families, especially children?
Four weeks is not really a long time to focus on preparations for this wonderful holiday. It should be a time of happiness and coming together to celebrate what we have been given.
I’m reminded of a song made famous many years ago by the country-western singer, Eddy Arnold, in which he poses the meaning of each letter of the word “Christmas.”
“C” is for the Christ Child, born upon this day.
“H” for Herald Angels in the night.
“R” is for Redeemer.
“I” means Israel.
“S” is for the star that shone so bright.
“T” is for Three Wise Men, they who traveled far.
“M” is for the manger where He lay.
“A”‘s for all He stands for.
“S” means shepherds came.
And that’s why there’s a Christmas Day.