The Flame: November/December 2010
Dear Readers of The Flame,
Weather-wise, November and December are the dreariest of the year. Lake Erie is still relatively warm. As the cooler Canadian air wafts across our lake it produces “lake effect” clouds, rain and snow. You know the routine well, I am sure.
These are also the most festive of months. Thanksgiving is a time for family gatherings and feasting. Hopefully this time is punctuated with prayer to Almighty God, giving thanks for his blessings. And from a secular point of view, Christmas is a time of bright lights, cheery sounds, childlike wonder and warmth.
In some ways, the patterns of our weather and culture reflect the spiritual realities of our times. Secularization is the lens of the modern mind. God is pushed to the fringes of public life. The only truth that is recognized is scientific truth. There are no firm moral or revealed absolutes.
Secularization is the silent operating system working in the background that makes people uncomfortable talking about their faith or standing up for moral truths. It has produced a dreary spiritual landscape. Chuck Colson described it as “the new Dark Ages”.
Though there is no “quick fix” to this spiritual weather pattern, we must live the real meaning of the holidays of November and December. Though Thanksgiving is associated with feasting, family and football in our day, it began as a civil religious holiday. By joining with the pilgrims of 1621 and the generations since who have thanked God from whom all blessings flow, we stay rooted in the unchanging truth of the living God. Our dreary spiritual landscape becomes brighter when we praise the Living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Christmas is the day we celebrate that the “Word became flesh.” (John 1:14) He is the “life that was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4b-5) No matter how dark our spiritual landscape may become, Jesus, the light of the world, will not be overcome. Even on that night which Jesus called “the time for the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53b), and the ensuing crucifixion the next day, the Light could not be snuffed out. Instead, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, having conquered sin, death and Satan.
It is my prayer that during the upcoming holy days, we would be filled with hope. By the power of the Holy Spirit, let us never “be ashamed of [our] testimony of to our Lord” (II Timothy 1:8a). Our world needs this light. It may smart their eyes. It may provoke their ire. But it may also give birth to real hope in the hearts of people.
I want to wish to each of you and your loved ones a Thanksgiving filled with genuine gratitude. And let me be the first to extend to you a happy and holy Christmas. May the celebration of our Lord’s birth fill you with joy and make you a reflection of His healing Light!
Fr. Bob Franco
PS: We do have our final charismatic mass of 2010 on Friday, November 19 at 7:30 PM. The location is St. Matthias Parish in Parma.