From Father's Desk

Dear OLPH,

The Philadelphia Boys Choir beautifully ushered in the season for us last weekend! What a wonderful testimony to what is most important about the arrival of the Son of Man. I am so happy we hosted them. I am delighted that they inaugurated our one hundred year anniversary! Folks were so elated, they immediately asked if we could have them back. I am looking into an annual holiday concert. Thank you for supporting our event!

Since the concert, I have really been in the Christmas mood, but have not encountered the same spirited music on the radio. Most of it is “Here Comes Santa Claus!” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Nice, but lots of fluff. Not that I have anything against Santa or Reindeer, but so much richness fills the reality of this season.  “Jingle Bell Rock” does not cut it when compared to “Silent Night.”

Reminders that call us to the heart of the season are many: “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers and the cliché: “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” I guess that is the point. Awash in so much “cheer,” do even our best attempts at keeping the simple manger scene before us fall short?

Dinesh D’Souza, in his compelling book, What’s So Great About Christianity , coined a helpful term: CINO: Christian/Catholic In Name Only. He noted that for many of the baptized in the modern western world, Christianity is a label that does not really impact identity. Belief in Christ often ceases to inform the choices of the baptized. Catholicism is an ornament, rather than the heart of the matter. D’Souza labels those caught up in the sea of secularity functional atheists. God no longer impacts their lives. They live as if God does not exist.

During this season, we might benefit from pondering the question: What difference has the Incarnation made in my life? Or, how is the whole of my life ordered to the radical truth that God became man to reveal the Father’s love and to offer himself for our sins? The danger I have encountered in seeking out the spirit of Christmas is that a secular spirit can water down, yes dilute, the radiant beauty of the Babe of Bethlehem. During this season, we see plainly the reality D’Souza elucidates. Many seek out the reason for the season, but fill their holiday with “Deck the Halls” rather than coming to the one, the only one, who fills life with its true meaning! Christianity is not a decoration, a scarf or hat we don or doff at will. Rather, Christianity is the essence of existence, and the reality that informs the whole.

May our Advent be Spirit-filled!

Fr. Wilson