Monthly Archives: December 2011
So which one came first? The egg or the chicken?
Growing up in a Catholic, homeschooling family, I was exposed to the lives of the saints from very early in my life. Mom got countless tapes of the saint’s lives presented as dramas, and as a child these were a favorite. I think I broke more than one of those old cassette tapes from over-use. I especially loved that so many of the saints would get up early for daily Mass, and the lives they led bore such beautiful witness to Christ and His Church. I never realized HOW or WHY though.
In my child’s mind, these men and women were saints, so they went to daily Mass, because that is what saints do. Holy people just do holy things. It never occurred to me that it was going to daily Mass that MADE them saints. Those holy men and women were not so much different from me. When they were going to Mass, praying, working, loving, and struggling, they were not saints yet. It was in the going to Mass often, praying the rosary, and calling out for the help and graces that the Sacraments bring that gave them the strength to become saints and gain Heaven. Holy things made them holy people.
They didn’t pray often or go to daily Mass because they were saints. They became saints because they prayed often and went to daily Mass.
So, I would say the chicken came first.
Just like every chick needs its mother hen to care for it, keep it warm, and feed it, we need Holy Mother Church to care for our souls, and keep us spiritually warm and fed.
Last summer my brother found a few rather atheistic videos on YouTube, decided he couldn’t leave that heresy unchallenged, and took the opportunity to share the Gospel by leaving comments, and following up on the conversation regularly. (Rather Dominican of him, I thought!) This has continued on for a few months now, and he keeps up with these conversations that he started last summer. (Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! Preaching the Gospel of Christ all from the comfort of his computer chair! Love that boy!)
He shared a few of his conversations with me one afternoon, and what he told this one guy really made me think. (Now, I’m nowhere near atheist, but that’s just how profound this fella’s mind is.)
The question: “Ok, supposing that there IS a god, how do you know it’s the God that the Church professes? Why not Buddha, Zeus, Ra, etc.?”
The response: because we, who profess belief in the Triune God -Father, Son, and Spirit-, do not understand our God. Man-made gods we can understand. We know what motivates them, what makes them tick, and why they do what they do. We do not understand the God of the Bible. He is our Creator, and we cannot understand Him. A computer does not understand the mind of its creator, it only ‘understands’ what it is programmed to understand. Now granted, we are much higher than mere computers to God, we are made in His image after all, but just like a child does not understand why his parents do what they do, we do not understand the mind of our Heavenly Father. That is one way (of many ways) that we know our God is the True God – we don’t understand Him!
This made me think about how often we try to put God in a box. We try to use theology, Scripture, reason, logic, and anything else we can get our hands on to explain away the mysteries of God. While we should most definitely use these means that God gave us to learn more about Him, we should use them with the knowledge that they can only help us learn more about God, but they will not allow us to understand Him. Remember, He created us, and gave us our ability to use these gifts. God’s Mind is so far above our minds, His Ways so far above our ways, and His Thoughts so far above our thoughts, all we can truly do is admire the beautiful Mystery that is our God.
While it is very human to want to put God in a box, somehow classify Him, or sort Him into some organized chart or grouping, He transcends all of that. Man likes to arrange things in such a way that it makes sense. God, by His very Divine Nature, cannot make sense to us.
And if you think about how beautiful a mystery is, especially this Mystery, why would you want it any other way?
Ben spoke on Advent, waiting, and being pregnant. His family has just welcomed their long awaited first-born son, Ben Jr. (most anxiously awaited by his four big sisters!), and he shared with us what the wait was like, especially for the little girls. He told us that towards the end there were tears on a regular basis because little brother was not here yet. (Aww…)
After painting this precious picture of his family waiting with so much anticipation for the new little brother, he drew a beautiful parallel between it and Advent / waiting for Christmas, and waiting in general.
This is the period of preparation for Christmas that the Church has set aside for us. That’s exactly what it is – a time to prepare! The world has been celebrating Christmas since Thanksgiving, but the Church says, “Hold your horses. That baby ain’t born yet.” The Feast of the Annunciation was back in March… and Our Lady is still with Child! The Church announces to the world that Christ’s Mass is here (traditionally at Midnight Mass… Christ’s Mass… Christmas…), the world does not announce this to the Church. No, the Church isn’t trying to be a wet blanket, or steal the fun and parties… In her wisdom, she is making us wait – just like the nation of Israel had to wait for thousands of years for the Messiah the first time! Blessed Mary waited on Christ for nine months. The Church is only asking four weeks of us.
We know what’s coming, we know that Christ is on His way! He just isn’t HERE yet. Just like the Walther family wasn’t celebrating Ben Jr.’s birth the week before he was born, the Church is asking us to hang on, just a little bit longer, until Christ’s Mass, to blow the roof off in celebration. And guess what comes after Dec. 25? December 26th – the second day of Christ’s Mass!!! Then, Dec. 27th, the third day! And this goes for TWELVE days, until the feast of the Wise Men, Jan. 6th, Epiphany! That more than an entire week to party it up! I mean, it’s our King’s Birthday! When the Church wants to party, she knows how to make it happen!
Waiting in general ~
Ben also talked about how his family had to wait for Ben Jr., and there was nothing Mrs. Walther could do to speed up (or slow down) his coming! All she could do was take care of herself, and wait. And wait. And wait. Wait until it was time.
Those of us who are young (and old(er), I would assume) sometimes feel we as if could write the book on waiting. It’s all we seem to be doing! Waiting to graduate, waiting to find a major, waiting to graduate (again!), waiting to know our vocations, waiting to get started on said vocation, waiting for this, waiting for that… It seems like life is just in a holding pattern. And there is nothing we can do but just take care of ourselves, and wait. But, we do know what is coming, just as the Blessed Mother knew Christ was coming! We can feel the growth and the movement, we experience the sleepless nights, the discomfort, the longing, just like she could, but the Child, the vocation, graduation, etc., is not HERE yet. But He (it) IS COMING! There WILL be a time when you can hold what you are waiting for in your arms, and make it your very own. That time will come! The Child will be born. Just wait. Take care of yourself, and wait.
A few hours after hearing Ben speak about this, I saw Mrs. Walther holding her baby boy. I cannot describe the love I saw on her face, and in her eyes, for son. You could just tell – she thought the wait, even the hard parts of it, were more than worth it.
When Christ’s Mass comes, as we rejoice in His birth, thank Him for the time to prepare. It’s the waiting and anticipation that makes the gift worth so much!