Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010. "Come, let us adore Him": To love the newborn Christ it is necessary to worship Him alone

"For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
Or again: I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me? And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him." Heb 1:1-6

If someone returned to earth from 1000 years ago and saw so many people huddled over tiny electronic gadgets in their hands, or held for long periods to their ears, or even risking an accident in order to use while driving a car, what would they think? They might think that we were in love with our cell phones! They also might make the very reasonable assumption that we worship these small communication devices, devoted as we are to bringing them with us wherever we go, and showering them with care and attention as we do.

But we would laugh if they accused us of these things. We know the difference between a love of adoration and a love of the convenience 0r usefulness of cell phones. Or do we? We only what to remain in loving communication with our spouse or children or to be able take care of business while away from the office.

Many Catholics say they love God, but though physically capable of doing so no longer genuflect in His Presence at church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Many receive Communion with their hands hanging down near their belt buckle, appearing as though they believe that the One whom they receive is less important than ordinary bread. Some refer to the consecrated Eucharistic species as "bread" or "wine", either revealing their own confusion or causing confusion for others. Many talk in church when others are trying to pray, forgetting that the primary purpose of visiting our church is to spend time in loving devotion for and attending to God. Some are habitually casual or indifferent about regular attendance at Sunday Mass, even causing scandal by failing to take their children to Sunday Mass when they are able to do so. These are lost opportunities for the worship of God by which we grow in love of Him and in the grace of faith by which we are to be saved.

Would someone be able to rightly say that you or I appear to care more about a cell phone or some other possession than we do about God? That depends upon whether we know the difference between what kind of love we owe to God and what kind of love we give to other persons or things.

There are many persons or things we might love in various ways, but there is only one case where our love must also include adoration or worship. Many are unfamiliar with or have forgotten what is necessary in order to give the love that is due to God: we must give him the love of adoration, worshiping Him as God alone and no other as we are commanded to do in the Decalogue.

"Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,' says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy." (CCC 2096)

Where do we worship God? Precisely here and now in the liturgy of holy Mass. That is why the way in which we say or listen to the prayers, sing the hymns or watch the actions of the liturgy is important. God Himself has given this gift to us so that we might have a means of showing and growing in our love for Him.

"In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels)." (CCC 335)

At Christmas we adore the Christ Child, really and truly born for us on a particular day and time, just as we were born. And we come into contact with this reality by coming to the crib here in our church and kneeling before the image of the new-born Lord as we did at the beginning of our Christmas Mass, using incense and song to give voice and action to our adoring love. We adore Him by kneeling in prayer before His holy image here.

"Sacred images in our churches and homes are intended to awaken and nourish our faith in the mystery of Christ. Through the icon of Christ and his works of salvation, it is he whom we adore. Through sacred images of the holy Mother of God, of the angels and of the saints, we venerate the persons represented." (CCC 1192)

But the use of images impels us to do more: to adore Christ truly present here on our altar in the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar. As we come forward we stop and bow or we kneel before receiving Him as a sign that He is God, preparing ourselves to receive Him with the proper disposition of Faith which brings salvation in and through Him.

"Come, let us adore Him." On this Christmas we ask the Lord Jesus, who has made it so easy for us to approach and to love Him because He is born as a little child, to make us also know how to worship Him, rejecting all idolatry and giving Him the adoration due to Him alone as God and to no other, that we may know here and now, and every day, the graces of salvation which come only through putting our faith in Him as Lord and Savior.

To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the 'nothingness of the creature' who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name. The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world." (CCC 2097)

Praised be Jesus Christ, the new-born Savior, now and forever! Amen!

-- ((((..))))

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