At the back of our parish there is a poster with two pictures on it. The first picture is of a computer/TV screen and the second is of a monstrance, with the words “Whom do you worship?” in bold script underneath. We’re standing on the threshold of Advent 2012—one liturgical year coming to a close and another beginning—and I think it so fitting that the Church wraps up the liturgical year with a celebration of Jesus Christ the King. There is a largeness and grandiosity in our liturgy today, a nuance of victory and power and glory forever and ever, which urges and encourages us to seat Christ anew on the thrones of our hearts and homes.
In stark contrast, seven days later, we are called to reflect once again on Christ in the womb of his Immaculate Mother—truly a dichotomy of epic proportions. Jesus the God-Man, the King Victorious, reigning over all for all time, in all his bigness, again becomes little, hidden, silent, and abjectly human within the heart of Mary. Advent is “the season of the seed” which is “the Word of God sown in the human heart,” says Caryll Houselander in Reed of God. “It is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of Divine Love growing in silence. It is the season of humility, silence and growth.” Both the inordinate magnificence and the unpretentious humility of Jesus Christ beacon to us, appealing to different aspects of our humanity, yet both calling us to examine ourselves, and the choices we make in our day-to-day lives. What does it actually mean to worship Christ and Him alone, and to sow the Word of God in our hearts? And at whose altar do I come daily—offering the best of my time and talents?
To begin with, “to worship” means “to render religious reverence and homage to—to honour, adore, idolize and glorify.” Every one of us can say we honour, adore and idolize God our Creator, but the real question is do we do it?—for it is our actions that speak the words that are in our hearts. If I say that I adore God, yet in His presence I am slouchy, picking my nails, chewing gum or acting bored—I do not adore God. If I say I love God, yet live without the smallest regard for his commandments, I do not, really, love God. If I say I want to know God, yet only spend one hour with Him every Sunday and do not pray or think about him during the week, I can’t say we’re friends or even acquaintances—I barely know Him at all. One hour on Sunday mornings is what you give great aunts and crusty old friends of your grandparents—not people that you know intimately, love intently, and with whom you enjoy spending time.
“But I don’t have time to pray daily even if I wanted to. I have a very busy schedule.”
I recently found the book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think in which the author, Laura Vanderkam, explores the question of the time we have available to us every week—168 hours. We all have the same amount of hours on hand and every one of us spends that time with the people and things we highly value. If sports, working out, television/technology, or entertaining is important to us, you better believe that we will be carving time out of our “very busy schedules” for it. And as far as television and technology is concerned, you might be interested to know that on average, people in North America spend over 30 hours per week “adoring” the “idiot box”—that’s longer than a full day every week! The point is, if God is not even the smallest of priorities in our lives, we simply will not make time for Him.
Ms. Vanderkam’s book had me ruminating on my current priorities, and where I would like them to be. I’m vastly far from my ideal—but this is the beauty of Advent, isn’t it? Not as strict as Lent per se, but still a time of penitence and growth, these four weeks before Christmas are the perfect time to nurture the seed of faith within our hearts and souls, especially within this Year of Faith, and to re-commit time and energy to the Lord. So maybe put down the credit card or turn off the t.v, and allow the Lord to take up a little bit more of the time and space in your life than he had yesterday. You won’t regret it.
“We must not try to force Christ’s growth in us, but with a deep gratitude for the light burning secretly in our darkness, we must fold our concentrated love upon Him like earth, surrounding, holding and nourishing the seed.” – Caryll Houselander