Friday, December 08, 2006

Have yourself a defiant Christmas

While surfing the website of U.S. Catholic, we came across this article by John Shea, the author of numerous books, including The Legend of the Bells and Other Stories (ACTA, 1996) and Gospel Light (Crossroad, 1998). Although this article originally appeared in the December 1996 issue of U.S. Catholic, we think it remains relevant today.
. . . Christmas arrives to find our health precarious, our careers, jobs, or vocations under stress, our finances dipping badly, our relationships in need of repair, and our society and world slightly insane. How can we celebrate Christmas in situations like these? Isn't the only realistic response anxiety and gloom?

When the outer world is darkness, barrenness, and rejection, Christmas is a lesson in bringing forth and responding to the inner world of light, greenness, and love. Spiritual teachers think that since this inner world is rooted in a transcendent love, it is more powerful than all the attacks that emerge out of both our finitude and sinfulness. "I have said this that you might have peace in me. In the world you have tribulations, but cheer up, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Christmas cheer, when it is modeled on this passage from Saint John, engenders in us a gentle defiance to the tribulations of the world. Gentle defiance is not on the standard list of Christian virtues, but it is the Christmas gift that we all need to unwrap at one December or another.

How do we open this gift of inner light, greenness, and love? How do we get in touch with it? How do we allow it to flow into our lives?

There are some clues in the characters that Christians meditate on in the Advent-Christmas season. Gabriel, Mary, and John the Baptist give hints on how to have a defiant Christmas.

We at Albany Catholic believe you will enjoy the full story.