When the Church speaks of Ordinary Time, it is really talking about our time -- the season set aside for us ordinary people who have bit parts in the true Reality Show of the human condition.
Bulletins from the Human Side
By their nature, metaphors allow us “to make journeys,” “to go beyond” a point that we could not otherwise pass.
Metaphors enrich us by their connotations -- the rich allusions and meanings that they deliver as a cloud of witnesses to a broadened and deepened truth about a person or an event.
As Norman Mailer once suggested that ego was the word of the 20th century, so civility is fast becoming the word of at least this year of the 21st century.
That we all want to be civil should not make us less suspicious of any substance used in excess, and any word that politicians suddenly start using as if they practice it or believed in it. We have many reasons to be cautious about civility as the style of -- as well as the accustomed mask for -- cover-ups.
I started the year with a pseudo-noble promise to be more understanding and supportive of bishops, somewhat in the spirit of my father’s frequent advice about criticizing others: “Leave the poor fellows alone; they’re doing the best they can.” He, however, did not use the word “fellows.”
We can hear all creation groaning, Saint Paul tells us, but that plaintive signal of the spiritual longing of the cosmos -- and of us -- may be muffled by our own heavy breathing at having run the race and finished the course of the departing year. Don’t we get a medal or something for keeping the faith?
During this week of Christmas, we stand with the Wise Men under a sign in the night sky.
It celebrates an aspect of the feast that, much as for the Kings bearing their gifts, commits us to a journey to “the end of the way of the wandering star” -- as Chesterton sings of it -- “to the things that cannot be and that are, to the place where God was homeless and all men are at home.”
A preacher to the papal household will not get in trouble by telling its residents that the world needs “a renewed faith in eternity.”
Although this cannot be news to Vatican insiders, it is the answer, according to a report on the Catholic Culture Web site, to the questions that secularization has raised as it has metastasized across a Europe once confident of its Catholic identity.
Advent is a season made for imperfect people, all of us, in other words, trying to maintain our balance as we scramble up the final slope of the shadow seamed mountain of the year. Advent's climb leads us to a view of the far reaches of the heavenly but in a profoundly human way. We pass through its weeks as we stroll by a succession of Christmas windows, surprised by images of ourselves superimposed on the displays, behold, as the angel of Christmas might say, this is what you really look like in everyday life.
If you think it is hard to get on an airplane without being hassled and/or humiliated, try volunteering for parish work in the diocese of Venice, Florida.
After a decade of revelations about sexual and financial scandals among priests, you would think that there is nothing more to learn about these men who were once revered in the Catholic culture and respected in the culture at large.