The ARM of St. Michael
Scripture and the traditions of the Catholic Church give us all the instructions needed to safely reach the end of this life on earth: love, care for our God and our neighbor. Just imagine discerning how we are caring for God and in what that consists!
The Catholic Church has from the beginning fostered two schools of love. The first and greater is love of God. The central word for this giving is worship.
The second is caring for human brothers and sisters, especially those who can sincerely use what we already possess and can give freely, cheerfully.
The two loves are distinct even when it is true that when we love our neighbor we also love our God. Our neighbor we do not worship.
“Christ will come again” is the third part of the profession of faith proclaimed during Holy Mass. The month of November sets before us the Bible’s eschatological writings, which remind us of the second coming of Christ. We know Christ will return in glory at the end of the age to judge the living and the dead.
Christ also comes to us, each Christmas. It is useful to ponder that every Christmas is unique. Each Christmas finds us ripened to a place in life we have perhaps never known before. Each Christmas finds us making new and better preparations for Christ’s coming. The prayers of Advent are littered with this begging: “O come Emmanuel!”. The word Advent itself means “coming”, and we might take the present participle to mean, Christ is in the process of coming all the time and has been since the Ascension.
Christmas brings us around to that cosmic nodal beginning and resonates fully with it again, even while we are all still in that stupendous long haul for the ultimate day in the mists of the future known only by the Father. The coming of God, of a sovereign and peaceable Kingdom, has grand dimensions! Jesus told us we would not recognize the coming over here or over there.
While the secular “Holiday” is fixed upon giving and receiving what is popularly preferred with all the rush-about the mall has enshrined, true Christmas is a preparing – working and waiting for the mystical birthday of the Infant Christ and his reappearance among us in a palpable, mystical way, a real but invisible sign of sustaining love and fidelity to His faithful.
In the Eucharist, we believe that Christ is the transformed bread and wine. We ingest Him in the radical sacramental reality, intimate beyond all other religion’s imagining. If this be true (and it is!), we are serenely expectant and faithful to the hope that at Christmas, Jesus makes a special spiritual reappearance. His moment of coming to each of us is chosen by Him and blesses in proportion to how we have made ourselves and the world a purer visiting place for the imponderably pure Child.
One of the traditions of the Church includes devotion to the Divine Infant Jesus, God as newborn baby, Lord of all-knowing silence, the realized desire of a human mind and heart at peace, beyond all internal satanic perturbations. The baby Jesus is at the foot of all contemplations: heavenly peace.
Fr John Saward’s luminous work Redeemer in the Womb, unfolds for us the Christian model of Mary, the human mother of God. Mary of Nazareth comes to conceive Christ within herself and gives birth to Christ. Each of us too become ‘pregnant’, by seed of grace, allowing the divine life to take hold within, growing and eventually conquering us, taking over completely.
In doing this, just imagine how clean or well ordered our ‘house’ might suitably be, to please Christ to birth Himself within us. If Christ comes to live in me, there is a moment when it all begins: baptism. But since the ascension of the Church toward the eschaton is ever upward and spiral, we are restrengthened in our awareness and consciousness of this indwelling, nurturing and growing of Christ, at Christmas.
This brings us finally to praying, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer is a charity. The St. Michael Prayer Group was instituted as a work of prayer, not for ourselves so much, but for the other, a place to offer a sacrifice of prayer. Fasting is a saving up, so that we can give away what has been put in reserve: a donation. Praying and fasting is something we can do for every SMPG meeting, to invoke the Holy Spirit to make us instruments of prayer.
These are things that ‘prepare the way of the Lord’. Praying, fasting and almsgiving are beautiful, they beautify the person who offers them for the benefit of others: love! Spare some time to pray, reserve and give away this Advent!
By works of charity and mercy, we prepare the place for his coming. He picks the time He will come and kiss our souls, to embrace us as only the Infant can, with disarming friendliness and affection. God is love.
If God can trust us to clean our house and make it inviting and pleasing to His visitation and then actually come to us, can we not entrust ourselves to Him with our life, our sobriety, our recovery, our conversion, our transformation, and basically, all that we are?
Love is sacrificing and giving.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
Love conquers all.
Love, and your wound will quickly heal.
Love, and it will be well for you.
Every day is rich with opportunities to be kind, sharing, gentle, giving, peaceful, thoughtful, comforting, helpful, merciful, prayerful: beautiful.
Advent, just like Lent, is a time of grace, where selflessness receives greater reward. Every little charitably-leaning impulse of ours accelerates his coming soul kiss. All addictions are the false version of the Real Love. There is no kiss like God’s!
Let us prepare! Let us do what love does! Let us let love cover a multitude of sins. Save it up, give it out, take time to pray for the man who lacks desire for freedom. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving will speed His coming, for Jesus is all burning thirst for love!
Holy Mary, lead us, teach us, protect us, guide us, to live and do those things that will entice our Savior God to come and touch us at Christmas, to grant us the deepest desires of our hearts, to set us free from the dead past, from the wounds of addiction, from the lie that says I do not give beautifully in this world. Mother of our Savior, pray for us the desire to love: to pray, to store it up, to give it away, ours that is right to give. Mother, receive our Advent prayer and lift our request to the Father, that He may grant us the mercy we truly yearn for at Christmas. Blessed Mother, lift our request to the triune God, for we beg in Jesus’ name. Amen.