Anticipating Christmas ~ Second Week
Dear old and new friends,
I was shocked by a recent survey revealing that a third of Catholics did not believe in a personal God! Searching for an explanation, I wondered how worship or prayer might shape our relationship with God. For example, what type of God is created addressing our prayers to “Lord,” a title once restricted to the Roman Emperor? And how does Catholic worship which is the Roman Rite Mass—the Eucharist—influence an idea of God? It now is in English, but other than for some adjustments is the same solemn Roman ritual from the reforms following the 1563 Council of Trent…71 years after Columbus came to the New World! Catholics urgently need a new 21st Century “Living” Eucharist reflective of a personal God, our evolving ecumenical unity and our world in an ever-expanding universe seen in the awesome photographs of the Hubble space telescope.
In anticipating Christmas, we commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ whose teachings reinforced the Great Commandment, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” Do our present spirituality and prayers reflect our striving for or experiencing a totality of loving of God? Christian scriptures use several words for worship/prayer. The most frequent of these, used some 66 times, is the Greek proskyneo. This Greek term means an act of submission or adoration, and surprisingly the very intimate, “I come toward to kiss”…and, logically, to be kissed! Imagine the impact on your spirituality if you began your prayers with such an intimate request!
We are born with an innate desire for intimacy with others—and God! Yet we also dread closeness to the Divine Mystery. So we fill up our worship with endless words, songs and music, and in our personal devotions by the use of predictable rote prayers that shield us from vulnerable intimacy. As our mothers kissed the hurt away from a childhood bruised knee, so let the Holy Loved One kiss away our fears of intimacy. Let your love grow by addressing God as, “My Beloved” or “Dearly Beloved.” Then eagerly put flesh on your affectionate words by loving acts of kindness to strangers and friends. The best prayer for these Anticipation Days is just to sit, close your eyes to the season’s whirling hurrying and be in silence with your Beloved. Lovers hunger to be alone together; so still your anxious heart as is prescribed in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and confess that I am God.”
Upon opening your eyes “confess” that everywhere you look and everything you see is your Divine Beloved! The old God of the starry heavens above no longer exists! Your dearly beloved Creator has poured, and is pouring, the Divine in abundance into all earthly creation, into the hundreds of billions of star-crammed galaxies in our ever-expanding universe and in all other possible universes in space.
“Venite adoremus”—come, let us adore!