Monday of Week 1 in Ordinary Time
1 Sam 1:1-8
“The time has come…and the kingdom of God is close at hand.”
In the past, it would be family tradition to go to church for Christmas Mass, then head home for Christmas family dinner. Ours used to be a Catholic family. I wouldn’t exactly call us that now. It’s so convenient to use the pandemic as an excuse for why we have fallen short. Everyone does, and the Church has given some of us ‘special dispensation’, so why not? But that’s not exactly in keeping with the spirit of things if we are going to be honest about it. If we can get on a plane, go for drinks with friends or eat at a restaurant, why can’t we go to Mass? Isn’t it about the same? But these days, it’s considered an affront to one’s liberties to even suggest that we go to church as a family. So finely tuned have some of us become, to the tiniest of microaggressions, that even an invitation to worship together as a family might be mistaken as an attempt at ‘conversion’.
It’s a sad thing to witness a family tradition dying out, especially when it has to do with our family’s faith. Though it takes many hands to clap, you can’t help but feel that it unraveled on your watch, if you’re possibly the only practicing Catholic in the group. God tasked you with shepherding your family, and you allowed them to go astray. That pretty much sums up my Christmas. In place of Mass, we worshipped at the temple of college sports on TV, and the latest ‘it’ show on Netflix. Instead of the season of Advent, it was a mad chase for material things. And instead of contemplating Epiphany, we totted up all the gifts we got and how we were going to spend the next long weekend. This ‘duality’, this ‘being in the world but set apart’ (John 15:19) feeling is exhausting when it involves your own family. No one wants to be ‘canceled’ at the high holidays, but by not speaking up, did I allow us to ‘cancel’ God? And what happens when your value systems do not align with the rest of the family? How can one be at peace with all that tension?
If “the time has come” and “the kingdom of God is close at hand”, then my family is woefully unprepared for it. I’m not exactly sure how all this gets remedied, or what I am supposed to do, to battle the secularism and the progressive ideology that has overtaken us. On some level, I want to wipe my hands off and be done with it. But that feels like abandoning the cause and I might have some fight in me still?
The words of Dorothy Day brought some comfort to all this doomsaying, oddly enough on Christmas Day itself. She said, “I’m so glad that Jesus was born in a stable. Because my soul is so much like a stable. It is so poor and in unsatisfactory condition because of guilt, falsehood, inadequacies and sin. Yet, I believe if Jesus can be born in a stable, maybe he can also be born in me”. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. After all, does not the Apostle Paul say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13)
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for those who have difficult family situations, that they are able to find comfort, fortitude and guidance in the Holy Spirit and their parish community.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who take on the roles of Spiritual Directors, who help us to discern paths forward even when we are lost and trapped in the thickets of our own despair.
Sharon, thank you for your reflection. The reality of your words speak of the truth of many Catholic families. Thank you for the Dorothy Day quote – she is one of my heroes, as well.