We are now just over half through Advent and Christmas is less than two weeks away. Are you preparing yourself for Christ to come into your life in a new and lively way at Christmas? Are you preparing your soul or are you spiritually ready? In the coming days there will be several opportunities to prepare your soul for Christmas through the Sacrament of Confession. I urge you to make a good confession if you have not already done so this Advent. Let us consider, with prayerful pondering, how important our spiritual preparation truly is! To help us, I offer some Advent meditations by Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
We are fallen: God certainly did not create us this way. We are fallen. All the facts support this view. There is a voice inside our moral conscience that tells us that our immoral and unmoral acts are abnormal. They ought not to be there. There's something wrong with us, something dislocated. God did not make us one way. Or rather, he did make us one way. And we have made ourselves, in virtue of our freedom, in other ways. He wrote the drama; we changed the plot. We are not jut animals that failed to evolve into humans. We are humans who have rebelled against the divine. If we are riddles to ourselves, we are not to put the blame on God or on evolution. But we are to put the blame on ourselves. We are not just a mass of corruption, but we bear within ourselves the image of God. We are very much like a man who has fallen into a well. We ought not to be there, and yet we cannot get out. We are sick; we need healing; we need deliverance; we need liberation, and we know very well that we cannot give this liberation and this freedom to ourselves. We are like a fish on top of the Empire State Building. Somehow or another we are outside of our environment. We cannot swim back into the stream. Someone has to put us back.
Eternity: Why must heaven be outside of time? Simply because none of us would want an endless existence on this earth. If it were possible for us to live four hundred years with some kind of vitamin, do you think that we would all swallow them? There would certainly come one moment in our existence when we would want to die. Have you ever been in any one place on this earth that you were absolutely sure would be one in which you would want to spend every day of your life? It is not very likely. The mere extension of time to most of us would probably be a curse instead of a blessing. Then, too, have you ever noticed that your happiest moments have come when eternity almost seems to get inside of your soul? All great inspirations are timeless, and that gives us some suggestion of heaven.
Mozart was once asked when he received his inspirations for his great music. He said he saw them all at once in a great heat, a great warmth, a great light. Then there came the succession of notes. So it is in writing a speech. When I prepare a talk, or a telecast, or a book, there comes a moment when the end is seen at the beginning. One cannot write fast enough. There comes to everyone, whether he is good or bad, some dim intimations of immortality such as Wordsworth wrote about. There are, however, men who try to immunize themselves from these thoughts of eternity. They put on a kind of God-proof raincoat, so that the drops of his grace will not get through to them. They shut out eternity.
A man who wanted to go to hell: I remember once attending a man in a hospital. When I asked him to make his peace with God he said, "I suppose you’re going to tell me I’m going to hell." "No," I said, "I’m not." "Well," he said, "I want to go to hell." I replied, "I have never in my life met a man who wanted to go to hell, so I think I will just sit here and watch you go." Of course, I did not intend to let time pass without doing something, but I was absolutely sure that if he had a few minutes to himself, he might change his point of view. So I sat alone with him for twenty minutes. I could see him going through a kind of soul struggle. Then he said to me, "You really believe there is a hell?" I asked him, "Do you feel unhappy on the inside? Are you fearful? Is there dread, anxiety?
Are all the evil things of your life coming up before you as a specter, a ghost?" Well, it was not long until he made his peace with God.
Why the virgin birth?: Our human nature was very much like a polluted stream up until the Incarnation. Imagine a ship, for example, sailing in polluted waters. It wishes to sail in clear waters, but without the pollution coming from one into the other. How could the transfer of the ship be made except by a lock? So the ship in the foul waters would be put into a lock where there would be a separation of waters, then the ship would be raised to the level of the unpolluted waters. Now the Immaculate Conception and the virgin birth were that lock. The pollution stopped because there was no union of man and woman. It was simply woman alone who gave a human nature to Christ and began the new humanity.
Through the intercession of the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may we all have the grace to prepare well for Christmas!
In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
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