Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 7, 2009
Embrace the season of light, truth, peace
Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, now wrapped in silver and blue, bring light into darkened world
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - The Choctaw People of Tennessee and Mississippi tell a story of creation involving possums, buzzards and other animals living in a dark, cold and miserable world.
Wanting warmth and light, many animals tried stealing fire but all of them failed.
"Grandmother Spider, who's tiny, manages to slip in and she says to the whole group that perhaps she was brought here to bring light into the world," relates Megan McKenna.
"That's what the whole season of Advent is all about. Perhaps that's why we're here, all of us, individually and together, to bring light into the world," said McKenna, an international speaker and storyteller.
She led several events Nov. 22-29 at Providence Renewal Centre, including a weekend Advent retreat.
To fully appreciate the Scriptures, especially the prophets, she recommended reading them aloud in front of a mirror. Reading the Bible in silence or hearing the words at Mass, she said, does not always bring the full effect.
"I would like people to get a couple of things out of this retreat. I would like them to fall in love with the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the word of God made flesh, and still dwell among us.
"They can keep going back to the Scriptures and study them together in groups, and pray with them. I also want them to begin looking at Advent, Christmas and Epiphany as one season, as it is the season of light, the season of truth and the season of peace," said McKenna.
The fourth of 15 children, McKenna is known worldwide as an author, lecturer, retreat leader and spiritual director.
With graduate degrees in Scripture, adult education and literacy, she has taught in Chicago, San Francisco, Dublin and Albuquerque, where she now resides. She has written more than 30 books, most recently Harm Not the Earth.
BLUE AND SILVER
"Now they have changed and brought in blue and silver as the colours of Advent and Christmas and Epiphany. It's not really penitential in that sense," she said.
"It's the darkness and soon the light is coming, so they get a sense of this is how we are to live in the world. The light keeps coming and keeps coming until it's within us, and then we bring it out into the whole world."
The baby being born in Bethlehem is often the focus at Christmas, and McKenna said that one must never lose sight of who the baby is and his importance to the world's salvation. The message is to put Jesus' way of life into practice in the world around us.
"I quote a line from Meister Eckhart, a Dominican preacher who said, 'What does it matter if the word of God does not take hold of our flesh, your flesh, this Christmas? Then it matters not that he was born of Mary so long ago,'" said McKenna.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is shown to give three things to people: hope, food and healing. Those things, said McKenna, ought to be the three priorities of the Church and its people as well.
Instead, with the mainstream consumerism of Christmas, it's easy to get caught up in the "itsy-bitsy stuff" and shopping for gifts and forget what is most important.
"We lock into the culture without ever considering its ramifications," she said. "We get so busy doing other stuff that we forget about what it is we're supposed to be celebrating and doing."
All of the momentum that builds towards Christmas during Advent must continue into the New Year. God's first gift to the world is another year of life.
She encouraged people to live with attention, focus and grace, and vow to make 2010 belong to God. While one cannot undo past wrongs and unrighteousness, she said that one is able to start anew, and work on changing behaviours, actions, attitudes and damaging relationships.
Most important, she said, is to be thankful for another year of life.
"We live an incredibly privileged life. A good place to start is to at least be grateful for it," she said.
"Everything depends on what we do today. What do you plan on doing with your one precious life?
"Will you stand up and be friends with the Son of Man?"
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