Religious Counselors Must Reintroduce Christ to Christmas
The secularization of religious feasts is common in America. The Christmas season which spiritually begins December 25th, begins on Black Friday after Thanksgiving. Instead of spiritual preparation for the birth of Christ, the nation that night prepares wish lists and compares the best sale. Where Christian charity and giving should exist, there is capitalistic greed. This unfortunate side effect of secularization and materialism has driven the idea of spiritual preparation into the distant past. As religious
counselors and leaders within the church, it is your obligation to help rejuvenate the ideals of Advent.
While Lent in the past has received a greater emphasis in regards to fasting, Advent also represents a time to fast. While voluntary, fasting during Advent can be especially spiritually enriching as the soul prepares itself for the coming of Christ. As Christians, we live in a world where Christ historically has already came and resurrected and we wait merely a month in commemoration. However, the “Advent” period of the Old Testament started with the fall of Adam and was carried through the great Patriarchs to the simply “yes” of the Virgin Mary. All the great prophets, from Abraham to Moses, awaited the coming of the Messiah. After their deaths, they awaited in limbo. This time of preparation of the “Old Church” is something the “New Church” recognizes within Advent. It shares with the “Old Church” a time of spiritual preparation and anticipation of the greatest event in human history. In Christian Biblical Counseling, one must make it evident to your spiritual children that the time for festivity must not take priority over this spiritual preparation.
As a Christian counselor one must emphasize the greatness of the Incarnation. The miraculous event of the 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity, taking upon a human nature, but retaining his divine nature is an article of faith that transcends any preconceived notions of love. This gift of love can be seen on two levels. First, from a redemptive view, it was the gift of Christ himself to the world as both priest and victim, God and man, who placed himself upon the altar to be sacrificed for man’s sins. From manger to cross, Christ’s life was for our redemption. Second, from a view of pure love, the 2nd person clothed himself in flesh, and became man to share and teach man how to live, suffer, and love. As a divine being, the 2ndperson was immutable. Any action against him could not harm him or hurt him, but only imbalance the weight of justice. As a human person, God allowed himself to experience the
intimacy of human love with its interdependence and interaction. While the love of the trinity was perfect, the happiness of God could never be altered by a mere finite creation, but via the Incarnation, creature and creator could share in a personal love that was different and in some ways more intense. So, via the Incarnation, not only did the 2nd Person prepare himself for the redemption of man, but also prepared himself to love man at a different level and way that solely as a divine being he could never do.
With such a deep theology, a Christian spiritual counselor should prepare his spiritual children. As Mary said yes and prepared herself for nine months, so we are only asked to prepare ourselves for one month. Christian counselors can offer a variety of methods for preparation such as increased fasting, minor sacrifices, reading of scripture and more prayer. Traditions from the local church or parish should also be emphasized and attended. Also include in decorations a manager set that constantly reminds one why the season is being celebrated. Of course the final preparation is celebrating worship service or Mass at your local church.
While the Christmas tree, stockings, and the ideas of Santa Clause are important social traditions, one must understand that these festivities and traditions are merely the side dishes of Christmas. The main course is the Incarnation of Christ and his amazing love for mankind. Christ is born—Glorify Him!
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By Mark Moran, MA