Four pillars upholding the light of the prophets;
Though made by none less than a conqueror-king,
Alexander’s tower shone not half as long,
Neither did it feel tremour of an Angel’s song.
Long-standing dark, the last cry for Repentance,
Blazes high among stars, overpow’ring the Dawn.
Look not to the sun but replenish your vows,
Make ready your heart for the Angels’ King.
Feeding and growing the light silent listens,
Holding its breath in anticipation,
And melting wax falling and slipping down, glistens,
Ensuring the bridge from the Fire to the World –
. . . the Christ is coming soon.
Christmas relentlessly approaches; no faster than the clock permits, though we all know that the perceived speed of the clock varies relative to our activities. Thus for me it seems to be coming up too quickly with too little preparation.
The most significant ‘preparedness’ one ought to have is that of the soul – being ready to receive the Christ into ones heart, full of nothing for Him there but love. What pull us away from that sometimes are the external things: Decorating, writing cards, running through lists of names and hoping that we didn’t forget to acquire gifts for any of them.
Some of us worry not about preparing for Christ and others, so much as wishing to slow down the clock and speed up our actions so as to do the Everything we desire to complete. There can be a temptation to boil everything down to the ‘what I want to do’, and although externally we could seem to be accomplishing things for others, it turns to having the focus on ourselves.
It is good to ask ‘Why’. Why am I doing this? Why do I want to do this? Because not only the actions themselves but also the intentions are required for a thing to be spiritually meritorious or sinful, we should know ‘Why’.
Why do we want to perfect ourselves and give that a particular focus during Advent? For the sake of reaching a personal goal, or because it is a good thing which has eternal merit? Because it is pleasing to God?
Why do we prepare for Christmas with all these physical things – decorations, gifts, etc?
To our society in general Christmas is nothing more than a party and marketing racket which begins in mid-September and by the time it concludes with the New Year, everyone is sick of it. For Christians, it is a celebration of the Birth of the Redeemer which begins the day the worldly party ends.
Are we trying to do so many things because it is custom, or because we want to celebrate our Saviour’s entry into the world with these things as well as having a soul and heart prepared?
We should take the words of Bishop Sheen to heart:
“How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You can not find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely let Christ be formed in you.
The fire now multiplied forms a trinity;
One light, one flaming substance,
Mutes the irate winds that would flare,
To smother Hope and cease Rejoicing.
Angel minds serenely voicing,
Of the new Life within a maiden,
Dwell about her in wonder, guarding, waiting,
For Love Incarnate alone to see.
Red and dim, a spark joins the first flame,
Silent and smouldering through voiceless winds,
A King is coming, though Caesar should reign,
A new Light ignites, casting to the skies,
The second blow of hope, now glimm’ring like eyes.
Two beacons stand, coloured for Repentance,
Two pillars now remain unlit, deep in thought they stand.
Wait, wait, the world has lived,
O’er Advent millennia long,
Weeping for joy that it shall at last,
Endure the Angels’ song.
Darkness has gathered for thousands of years,
Gloom and death’s assembly summoning fears,
Of sins extinguishing the hope of God,
Crimes sharply demanding blood,
Nations driven together and temples overthrown,
Demon-gods, lashed and chained,
Burning forever on their throne.
A flaming sword, a pillar of fire,
Guarding the Tree of Life, leading God’s Nation,
Expelling and Summoning, power of the Same,
Inextinguishable Light shining o’er the darkness. . .
. . . We recall with one candle aflame.