When I was in 7th grade I was grounded for two weeks right around Christmas time. It was because I went hunting around the house for Christmas presents and found them. Well it wasn't so much that I found the presents but that I found them in two very large cardboard boxes that had ben duct taped shut. When I peeled the duct tape off I wasn't smart enough to put the duct tape back on.
I look back on that and laugh now. I was so concerned with what presents I was getting as a child that I don't think I ever really thought about the true meaning of Christmas. I mean don't get me wrong it is still tough even today to get distracted. It is now the 3rd week of Advent and I don't think I've ever felt this out of it spiritually during advent, at least not since the days of hunting for presents once I figured out Santa wasn't real. (To clarify that was long before 7th Grade!). I don't know what it is this time around but I'm just not feeling at all in the Christmas mood. My prayer life hasn't necisarily been terrible. It hasn't been great but it hasn't been bad. Honestly for some reason all the cultural stuff with Christmas has been bugging me a lot more this time around.
It drives me nuts that people who are not even Christian celebrate this Holiday. It drives me crazy that we put more emphasis on sales, Santa, and Frosty the Snow man than we do on Christ. In front of the chancery in Denver there is this big lights display that has a light up nativity scene and then a light up sign that says KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS. The ironic part of it is that when I drove by it the other night the lights for the word Christ for the letters HRS are all out. So the sign reads more like KEEP CIT in Christmas. As I saw that I thought to myself wow, how perfectly ironic. Christ is barely visible in the sign just like He is barely visible in our culture today.
So my question is how do we as Christians defend it? On our last day of finals Jon and I were driving back to the house and noticed a Church marquee sign when we were stopped at an intersection that read: "Christmas is not a date but a state of mind and heart!" I wanted to vomit! That is such crap. How are we as Christians supposed to fight for the true reality that is Christmas when there are even Christians among us who don't get it. Christmas is a REAL, HISTORICAL event! Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal Rarzinger said that when you take History out of the equation all you are left with is Gnosticism. Christmas is not a feeling or state of mind! It is a real Historical event in that took place in History. It is a moment that transformed time and eternity forever! If it is not a date, then it doesn't mean anything! We celebrate the moment in History that as St. John puts it, "THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH"! GOD BECAME MAN! Have we ever stopped to really think about that. I mean we hear it all the time but have we really thought about it? It is mind boggling! And this actually happened! This took place at a definitive moment in History.
There is a HUGE supernatural reality that our culture fails to see. We are about to celebrate something so incredible that I can't believe we aren't all sitting in awe in prayer during this great feast. In stead we go insane with all the preparations and are more concerned with presents than anything else. I love my family and I LOVE celebrating with them but if I don't make a serious effort to take time and be spiritual on Christmas it doesn't happen with them. That is why every year for I don't know how long I always leave the house for Christmas Eve about an hour before the rest of my family just so I can get to the Church and sit in silence with my King before the craziness of the night ensues. That honestly is my favorite moment of Christmas. It is just me and Jesus in the quiet of the Church before the people start filing in for mass. And it makes all the difference in the world.
But is that enough? How do we enage the culture and change these false perception? How do we get people to come to conversion and realize that what they are celebrating is the feast of their Savior coming to save them? How do we get people to realize the greatest present they are recieving on Christmas is Christ himself? How do we get people to step back from the hustle and bustle and take time to just be with the King of Kings? How do we create authentic Catholic culture in general but especially surrounding Christmas?
I just pray I can focus more on prayer and the true meaning and not get sucked into all the distractions myself. Blessed rest of Advent to you all and Merry Christmas! Let us all remember this year that great Historical event that has transformed everything we are!