November 28, 2011

First Sunday of Advent

So it's the First Sunday of Advent. It's the beginning of the church year, which is a far meaningful beginning than January 1st, the secular beginning. I surprised myself by stumbling on the "And with your Spirit" several times at Mass. I think I only got it right twice out of five tries. I thought that since the Eastern rite says "and with your spirit" that I would have little trouble with it. I guess not, especially since they chant it and we say it. But it's good as a dose of humility!

Our pastor mentioned the image of God as potter in the first reading and I thought about how often that image has occurred to me in only a spiritual sense, as if we were made, physically, independent of Him! But the pastor spoke of it mainly in terms of our physical selves, how each of us ("even twins") is unique. And so there's another reason to thank God. Too often I completely ignore the fact of my physical creation; I take it for granted or minimize it.

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(Before I forget, Fr. Martin in "Between Heaven and Mirth" humorously mentioned a spiritual adviser who told him he was 'shoulding all over himself', a rather colorful image of those who are always saying, 'I should do this, I should do that...').

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From the unlikely source of the novel "The Marriage Plot" by Jeffrey Eugenides, a character in the story describes reading St. Teresa of Avila's "Interior Castle", quoting the saint as saying that those who find themselves in the castle at all ought be grateful: "it's a great gain that they found their way in at all." Perhaps it's a temptation to a "reduction of desire," as Heather King put it, but I do sometimes think that instead of complaining that I'm not at the fourth or fifth or seven level of the castle that I should be thankful merely for the fact that I've been Baptized -- even if I'm still in the swamp outside the castle to borrow from the saint's imagery.

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Potent gospel last Sunday, perhaps the most potent of all. It's the daunting Matthew chapter 24 in which we learn how we are judged. And I thought about how Christ is indeed hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison, ill, because He is within the least of us. It goes beyond mere identification with, or empathy for. The verses I often have taken as a very hard goal for us to achieve, can also be taken another way: as a way of saying how much He loves us. It's not enough to do good, the pastor says, but to see Christ in what we're doing and who we're doing it for.

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Wow, Jennifer of Conversion Diary says what I've been thinking:
"The same force that drives people to slot machines is what drives me to my computer. I realized that when I mindlessly get online, every time I click it’s like pulling the lever on a slot machine and hoping to hit the jackpot. I’m hoping to hit a virtual jackpot — a blog post that changes my life, an email that blows me away, a hilarious video on YouTube, etc. And the truth is that there’s enough stuff online that if I clicked on enough links or spent enough time on email I would get that payoff I’m looking for. But, just like with slot machines, I need to be careful about spending endless amounts of time just sitting around pulling the lever."

1 comment:

Steven Riddle said...

Dear TSO,

That is something I ought to have remarked upon more--the unexpected insights into spirituality that one happens upon--this among them.

shalom,

Steven