After having taken the month of November off, we are happy to be able to bring you the return of our “Chaplain’s Corner” by Candlewood Lake Council Chaplain Fr. Eric Silva of St. Joseph Church in Brookfield, CT.
Chaplain’s Corner – December 2017 – “Catholicism: An Incarnational Faith”
This past week I was blessed to make a trip to Rome with a priest friend of mine. Tickets were cheap and I have a generous pastor so why not? For the past week, we saw beautiful church after church, each one more beautiful than the next; paintings, mosaics, marble structures, golden vessels, and monuments made in veneration of those who trod the pilgrimage of faith before us. Especially for those of us who live in a country whose foundation is only a few centuries old, seeing churches that pre-date the knowledge of our continent standing and still as beautiful as the day that they were consecrated, makes for an awe-inspiring experience.
In today’s world, there are those who believe that the grandeur of our Catholic history is but a mark on the past and something that we have moved on from. That was something that we used to do… the gold and the marble and the paintings only take away from the interior transformation of the heart that Jesus Christ calls for in the gospels…but is this true? Does the grandeur of beautiful physical things take away from the interior conversion that is needed to “Watch” for our Lord’s coming? In St. Peter’s Basilica, there is in the center of the church the baldacchino which is the canopy looking structure stands towering over the altar in the middle of the Church; it was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini who created hundreds of structures throughout Rome. If you’ve ever seen the “bee’s” in Rome, that’s his symbol marking that whatever the bees are on, is his work. He was criticized heavily especially when creating the baldacchino for being one who worked not for the glory of God but simply for the paycheck. The four-pillared structure was created using the bronze from the roof of the pantheon where the many pagan rituals used to take place before the Christianization of Rome. When the final touches were being made on the baldacchino, Bernini decided to bronze his own personal rosary into the side of the back-left pillar in order to pay homage to the Blessed Mother but also to show that all of his works, the baldacchino being one of his most magnificent, all of his works were for the purpose of giving glory to the God who gave him the ability to be arguably one of the best artists of all time.
Advent is about understanding why we build great big beautiful things, why we erect statues and monuments in public places, why our faith must be made manifest not solely within the confines of our own hearts and minds… but must be incarnate. To live the faith, we must have a faith that is incarnate. To consider ourselves truly to be followers of Jesus Christ, this advent is the time to look within our lives and to see whether or not we are following him as we ought and to be challenged to delve deeper into the incarnate faith that God has given us. An incarnate faith is not just a faith made manifest in the works of serving our brothers and sisters but an incarnate faith is also worshipping God incarnationally…is our worship and love of God a physical reality in our lives?
In the first reading from Isaiah, listen to his words, “Return for the sake of your servants”, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down”, “we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.” This doesn’t sound like someone who simply experiences God in his heart alone but the cry of his heart bursts forth, crying out for the intervention of a God whose love was so bold that He chose to become flesh. Because if God didn’t become flesh, if He wasn’t born in a manger to the Blessed Virgin, then all of the Old Testament filled with a people crying out for their God would simply be the poetic language of a people ruled by a God who is not love. Praise Him that we do have that God. Praise Him that this advent season is about preparing our minds, our hearts, and the entirety of our lives for the coming of Jesus Christ, of God made flesh. Not a blind yearly tradition that allows us to simply celebrate but we prepare as if it was the first time He has ever come into this world.
Our faith must be incarnate and if there was someone watching you during your whole week, with the exception of Sunday, would they be able to tell that you are a Child of God, a follower of Jesus Christ. If not, that’s ok because now is the time, now is the advent season where you can make yourself anew with a firm purpose and concrete resolutions. Most don’t know but advent is a penitential season just as lent is and so this advent, if you have not chosen something to do and to fast from, before you leave this church tonight, do so. The greatest thing that you can do this advent season is make the sacraments a priority: make a firm resolution to go to confession no matter what. If you have not yet considered coming to daily Mass, the event where Christ becomes incarnate in the form of bread and wine each and every day happens here at 6:45 and 8:45am…pray the rosary or the divine mercy chaplet on your way to work in the morning instead of listening to the radio or music. There are so many incarnate ways that you can better prepare yourself, make yourself more “watchful” for our Lord’s coming.
There is an old saying written on countless sacristies throughout the world in any number of languages: “Priest of God, offer this Mass as if it was your first Mass, as if it was your last Mass, as if it was your only Mass.” The same could be said of this advent. People of God, live this advent as if it was your first advent, as if it was your last advent, as if it were your only advent. God Bless and be saints, nothing less.
In Christ & Mary,
– Father Eric Silva
Chaplain – Candlewood Lake Council No. 11913