No one needs reminding of how busy our lives have become and especially how busy this period leading up to Christmas is even in a monastery – so many things to do. There is always the danger that the ‘urgent supplants important’ at this time of year. Not only are we busier but life is faster and faster -our world is increasingly a world of speed and pressures which consume us and drain us, and make life a series of duties than a joyful mystery. It is easy to be submerged in this culture, be swept away in the rush and the bustle of this time of year. And advent has suffers more from this culture of light, speed and consumption than even Christmas itself – it gets lost amidst the welter of shopping and card sending, party going…and spiritual preparation is reduced to almost nothing.
I see Fr. Desmond Donnell, the Oblate priest is quoted in the Irish Independent suggesting “that we’ve lost Christmas just like we lost Easter and should abandon the word completely. Christmas no longer conjures feeling of spirituality for people. I’m all for Christians choosing to celebrate Christmas by going out for meals and enjoying a glass of wine but the commercialisation of anything is never good. I’m just trying to rescue the reality of Christmas for believers by giving up ‘Christmas’ and replacing it with another word.”
Maybe we should take his advice and let Christmas return to its former pagan roots and do something radical and new. It was only in the fourth century that Christians took over the pagan festival of ‘Sol Invictus’, the unconquerable sun, and injected its own meaning – using it to mark the birth of JC, the light of the world. If it is to become a Christian festival again then rejuvenating the season of Advent which we begin this week could be a good place to start.