Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Ringwreaths

I've always felt this a little, but now I'm convicted enough to say it: Advent candle wreaths are kinda lame. I'm not opposed to them. I just think they're nothing to feel much of anything for, so why has it become THE Catholic visual for Advent? They all have this pastel mass-produced flatness to them, even with (or because of?) the Martha Stewart flourish. We light a candle every week at one Sunday Mass. And then who knows how it works between the 8am and 10am Masses? Someone puts one out after every Mass; they light it again, put it out once everyone's scurrying off to Sunday brunch. Like it's a show, a party favor. Yes, the candle symbolizes the coming Light of Christ which we bless with this holy water, etc, etc. But it's a one-fingered "Mary Had A Little Lamb" on the piano when the Church should be jamming to something with a little more groove.

Somehow this brainfart was inspired by a Fr. Stephen Freeman post on the Romney speech:
Thus to say merely, “Jesus wishes you to be saved from your sins,” is true. But stated so flatly it quickly becomes banal and of little significance. It is Mary Had a Little Lamb, repeated until you come to hate the tune. Such banality among Christians makes them easy prey for those who would say, “Mormonism is Christianity.” It also makes them easy prey for those who would exploit their simplicity in far more sinister manners.

Orthodox Christianity is not just the fullness of the faith tossed about like a slogan (”Look at us! We have the fullness and you don’t!”). Such fullness is not fullness but stupidity. It is fullness that is found only in relationship to Christ who draws us towards a freedom with regard to nature that we become Rubensteins of the spiritual life - or whatever calling it is God sets before us. We become not merely human beings who are individual instances of a general thing we can call human nature. We become persons, birthed in freedom which is the gift of the Spirit. In that freedom we are not determined by the limitations of our nature, but persons determined by their freedom as we turn to Christ.