Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent

Light a candle ... the journey begins!

Today we begin a very special journey, one that we have traveled a few times or perhaps, like myself, more than 60 times. It is very special because it is a journey that runs parallel to a journey that is always running the traveler to ragdom! The travel that the Church offers us today and for the next four weeks is an experience of "heart and soul" conditioning. The Church offers you the opportunity to make Christmas 2009 the best Christmas yet!

Advent is a time when you can you can grab the hand of your soul for the journey. In doing that you will find yourself not just walking but actually sensing your spirit flying far above the "rat-race" condition that easily can overtake your heart, soul and mind.

Christmas truly loses -- it continues to be a celebration of longing -- when Advent means little or nothing, if is lost in the modern madness of a very secular month of Christmas shopping and other pre-Santa arrival activities. Imagine what Christmas would be like, if the Church continued Ordinary Time until Lent. Remove the Christmas hymns and leave only Jingle Bells and other secular songs: what would be lost? December would not be December.

Today we begin the re-celebration of the coming of a Saviour into our lives. It is a Savior who has come, is coming to us in this very liturgy and will come tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrows. Today’s Advent inauguration gospel speaks rather harsh words and image interpreting the signs of the times. Like Lent, Advent is a time for us to look at the signs of the times in our hearts. Unfortunately for many, this search is run over by the search for best buys, for the best parties, the best gifts ... the best of everything but except for the best gift that we have been given.

In psychology class or your own reading you may have learned about “autosuggestion.” It is a law of nature -- for what is good as well as for what is destructive. Remember it deals with repetition. Say something to yourself or others often enough and you will believe it and live it. During Advent, tell yourself each day that you live in abundance and your life will be plentiful for you and others. Tell yourself each day over and over that that you cannot spare the time for any spiritual efforts during December and you will achieve that reality: you will be something of a spiritual failure. Tell yourself you are a horrible sinner: you will go down in defeat, ending your life in emptiness, misery and distress. Listen to this poem (author unknown but provided by Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich):

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll, you’re lost,
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a person’s will --
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got be be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster (man)
But soon or late the one who wins
Is the one WHO THINKS (S)HE CAN!

This is the message I hope you can strengthen in your lives during this season of Advent. May your ADVENT this year be four weeks of genuine awareness of the abundance that is God’s intention for you, for each of us. Let your abundance be the best gift that you share with one another, with your family, other friends and, wherever possible, with those who don’t realize how much abundance God has given to them. This is a magnificent journey, isn’t it? May you enjoy every day of it. Amen.