+ Old Roman Catholic Church + See of Cær-Glow +
ADVENT PASTORAL LETTER, 2014
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
Advent, as well as the holy season of Lent, are the times set aside by holy Church, to provide us with periods of penance and atonement. True, it is very hard to think in those terms when the world around us is full of lights and light heartedness – both pleasant experiences for all of us. Nonetheless, each year the more cheerful aspect of the Christmas season seems to come earlier and earlier.
The merchants – the Madison Avenue crowd – have done this for us. Each year their decorations go up earlier and earlier. Their sales start as early as August. Surely we have all noted this year nearly every merchant in the country has created his own “black Friday” long before that day after Thanksgiving is anywhere near. The merchants want your money as early as you will give it to them. And the decorations go up earlier, and the merry-making begins anew long, long before Christmas is really upon us. Now these things, in and of themselves are not evil. The problem is that we Christians become less and less aware of our responsibility to the God Whose birth we are supposed to be preparing for – our responsibility to pray and atone.
You know, the merchants DO hear us. Note, just a couple of years ago, there was a clear indication among them to convert our Christmas to a mere “holiday.” The ancient greeting “Merry Christmas” during the shopping period became simply “Happy Holidays.” The word “Christmas” seemed to vanish in the air. Indeed there were reports that salespeople were actually fired for using the traditional greeting. But we Christians banded together; we fought them, we boycotted them; and lo and behold, the word “Christmas” is again appearing in the ads for the merchants’ wares; salespeople are again wishing shoppers a “Merry Christmas.” There has been a genuine effort to Keep Christ in Christmas – at least that is the message we Christians have sent to the merchants! The truth is we have forced it on them. But the damage has been done.
Many more of us now prepare our homes so much earlier. We decorate, we party, we celebrate – all good things, BUT – all in good time. God’s time. Lord knows, there is so much more for which we must pray. The world is in a shambles. The enemies of Christ, both at home and abroad, are leering at us. They hate our prayer life, they hate our houses of worship, they hate the message that good Christians intend by our observance of Christ’s birth. We must be on our guard against them. Their tactics have not disappeared, they have simply laid them to rest – for the time being. You may be sure they will renew them – once they have mesmerized us with their sales and discounts, their myriad of special cards for savings – all intended to get us to spend, spend, spend.
Obviously, I am asking you to take hold of yourself, not to over-spend, not to over-socialize before Christmas is actually upon us. I ask you to pray for our families – so many more divorces than marriages. I ask you to pray for this country – once thought of as the greatest nation on earth. I ask you to ask God to give us decent politicians – surely there must be a potential statesman out there somewhere. I ask you to pray for clergy with backbones, who know the faith and live it according to the norms set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ and the Fathers of the Church. I ask you to pray for your children and grandchildren, who have been strapped with a debt never before known to the human race and who are forced to live within a society almost totally bereft of anything that smacks of morality and decency. I ask you to pray for yourselves – that YOU possess your vessel in holiness and truth, that YOU “let your lights so shine before men that you glorify your Father in Heaven.”
With every good wish and prayerful blessing to you and yours, I am faithfully yours in Christ,
s/ +John J. HumphreysThe Most Reverend John J. Humphreys, Archbishop
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