Monday, December 24, 2012

Tonight in This Stable There is Peace

The great men and women of prayer throughout the centuries were privileged to receive an interior union with the Lord that enabled them to descend into the depths beyond the word. They are therefore able to unlock for us the hidden treasures of prayer.

And we may be sure that each of us, along with our totally personal relationship with God, is received into, and sheltered within, this prayer. Again and again, each one of us with his mens, his own spirit, must go out to meet, open himself to, and submit to the guidance of the vox, the word that comes to us from the Son. In this way his own heart will be opened, and each individual will learn the particular way in which the Lord wants to pray with him.

Jesus of Nazareth 1, 133

Reflection – I have set myself the challenge this week of relating every post and the randomly generated passage I select from Ratzinger’s writings to the Christmas mystery. This rather beautiful passage about prayer lends itself to this in a strange kind of way.

Christmas for most people can become a frenetic time. Lots to do—decorating, cooking, shopping, traveling perhaps—and lots of activities and events: parties, meals, caroling, family rituals, maybe even the odd church service.

While that is the nature of festivity and as such is right and proper (if a bit fatiguing), it can get us a bit out of balance if we are not careful. Prayer is needed at all times to put us back into reality and into interior peace and stability.

To pray at Christmas, in the midst of all the noise and rush and celebratory fuss—this is a great gift. And I think there is a special grace of prayer at this time of year, if we look for it. God comes to us with such delicacy and beauty at Christmas, the little baby lying on straw in the manger, his lovely mother hovering over him, the star shining and the angels singing, the kings and shepherds adoring.

There is trouble and fuss beforehand—getting to Bethlehem was a terribly busy rush for Mary and Joseph. There will be great trouble and fuss and much worse—tragedy and loss—afterwards. The flight into Egypt with a newborn baby must have been a great suffering for them. But here and now, this night, in this stable, there is great peace, great beauty, great silence, deep prayer. And I think this silence and prayer is waiting for us in the Christmas season, perhaps at the crèche set, perhaps before the Lord Himself in the tabernacle, perhaps in the silence of your own heart. Sometimes we do need to step away from all the noise and fuss of the feast to find that silence.

So, while I wish you all a most merry Christmas, I also want to wish you a prayer-y Christmas (ouch). After all, He came for this, that each one of us could find Him readily and certainly and come into this deep and total union of love with Him, and so be conformed to His life and love in the world, and be happy with Him forever in the next world.

This will be my last blog post for at least a couple of days. My own Christmas will have a different kind of ‘fuss’ to it this year. On Boxing Day (that’s December 26 for you Americans), myself and two of the Madonna House lay staff will board a train for Halifax to attend the Rise-Up event hosted by Catholic Christian Outreach, a wonderful Canadian university evangelization group. Since I have no idea whatsoever what will be the schedule, the accommodations, the internet access, or much else indeed about what the next week has in store, I don’t know when regular blogging will resume. Might be December 27, might be January 3!
So I do indeed wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year, beg your prayers for me and mine and assure you of my prayers for all of you. I look forward to another year of German Shepherding with you all!


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