Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Queue | Urbi et Orbi

I try to read daily from a small book I was given when I was a participant at a Christ Renews His Parish retreat four years ago, relatively early in my ongoing conversion—Joyfully Living the Gospel Day by Day: Minute Meditations for Every Day Containing a Scripture Reading, a Reflection, and a Prayer. I feel moved to share today's reflection, from an undated pastoral letter from an otherwise unidentified Cardinal Duval (I suspect Léon-Étienne Cardinal Duval [1903-1996], longtime Archbishop of Algiers):
"Let a person come forward, a living person capable of speaking to the heart; let truth flow from this person's life & let the person's power be matched by an equal gift of love. Then people will listen to the Good News, & the dawn of better days will brighten our skies."
Consider that God might be calling you to be that living person to the persons in your own life.

Also, I resolved sometime last week to try, yet again, to make this year's advent a spiritually fruitful season. "Yet again" because that is always my vague intention & yet year after year, almost like clockwork, advent gets overridden by the stampede of secular Christmas, that horrifying orgy of unbridled consumerism that ends almost at the very moment the true Christmas is beginning. Christmas runs from 25 December through 6 January, not from 15 November through 24 December, drat it all! To aid this advent, I resolved to re-read Matthew Kelly's Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation, using the books forty-day format, rather than reading it straight through. All find & good, except that I made a mental note to glance at the calendar & calculate how many days ahead of the First Sunday in Advent I'd need to start reading Rediscover Jesus to finish the forty days on Christmas Eve—& then promptly forgot to do that very glancing & calculating.

On Tuesday, under the cloudless blue skies & punishingly radiant sun of this November's Indian summer, I discovered work crews from the City of Burton installing Christmas decorations on the streetlights along Saginaw Street. I railed——with joyful chiding rather than fury—against the preposterous inappropriateness of this farcically unseasonal bit of seasonal decoration. "It's not even Thanksgiving! Advent doesn't begin for almost two weeks! It's sixty degrees out today!" Once I was no longer driving & could safely do so, I consulted the calendar on my mobile to see by how many days Burton's "Christmas" decorating was ridiculously early. I discovered that the proverbial halls were being decked forty-one days before the beginning of the Christmastide on 25 December. Forty-one? Eureka! If I wanted to read Rediscover Jesus as a forty-day preparation for Christmas, to conclude on Christmas Eve, I had to begin that very day!

So, even though I cannot approve of Burton's unseasonal seasonal decorating, I am big enough to acknowledge the debt I owe & extend my thanks to the faceless municipal bureaucrat whose crass misjudgment helped me to kick off my Advent preparations on time, very much despite my own efforts. Thanks, whoever you are, & when the time comes, weeks & weeks from now, have a merry Christmas!

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