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(Although this reflection was given to our guests in summer, it seems fitting for Christmas – the season of Love incarnate.)

More and more, I’ve been thinking about the abundance of material things we deal with each day, about the pace of life, the noise, and what takes our focus. Where do our energies and time go? What’s important to us? What do we adore?

The dictionary gives three definitions of the word “adore”:

1)  to worship or honor as a deity;

2)  to regard with reverent devotion;

3)  to be extremely fond of.

First of all, what or who do I adore? Is it Christ? Is it Christ whom I worship and regard with reverent devotion? Is it he whom I’m extremely fond of?

Our consumer mentality tells us we’ll be happy if we own the latest gadget, a better car, a plasma TV. If my cell phone can take pictures and send emails, and if my iPod has 10,000 songs on it, I’ll be satisfied. I won’t have this inner restlessness. There are so many messages: “If you don’t wear this you are worthless. If you don’t have this what is the use of living? If you aren’t welcome in certain circles, you don’t count.”

When I was living in the city, there were times when I could only hear the bass playing on my neighbor’s CD as he drove down the street. So much is tugging at us, shouting at us, pulsating at us that we cease to hear our own heartbeats, let alone the heartbeats of the Lord that St. John heard when he reclined on Jesus’ breast. Our society has lost its reverence for life and the sense of the sacred. When we start adoring people and things and stimuli over God, we have entered the culture of death.

While our desires can get disordered, essentially desire is a great gift. We were created with the desire for God. Our baptismal graces fuel this desire, but God’s own desire for us is his greatest gift. When we orient our desire for God and adore him, we move into the culture of life.

How do we adore, when we are caught in all the clutter, chaos, noise and stimulation of our world?

As much as society tries to convince us that multi-tasking is the way to go, it doesn’t work. The latest research shows that things do not get done as well or more quickly as when we are focused on one task. We are so used to multitasking that it’s hard to simply be before the Lord.

We can start with our personal environment. Is it one of rest and peace, or is my house/ room cluttered or chaotic? What simple things can I do to cultivate an atmosphere around me that welcomes the Lord? I do have choices!  Even my person can reflect the object of my desire. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:19). Do I love myself enough to care for my body with proper nutrition, rest, exercise, hygiene, dress?  This is all a part of putting right order in my life and making room and giving the first place to God, of knowing my dignity as his child and, at the same time, welcoming and serving him in my brothers and sisters.

Almost thirty years ago, I was living in Houston, Texas having a great time buying into the decadence of the time. It was during the oil boom in Texas, and this was an exciting place to be. It was easy to get a good job, make money, have fun. Yes, there were some Mexicans living there illegally and trying to scratch out a living, but I wasn’t going to let that bother me.

Then along came Catherine Doherty (she who said, “I wouldn’t want to have lived without disturbing anyone.”) and I went to hear her speak. Toward the end of her talk on prayer, she began to have an inner struggle that became more and more apparent as she grabbed the mike and shouted, “Wake up! Wake up to the evil you are living in! Your brother and sister are dying in the streets, and you have your two cars, and three TVs, and you don’t see!”

Not much has changed in thirty years. We are more plugged-in, have more advantages, more contacts and communication, and we are still blind, deaf, and out of touch with the suffering of our world and our own suffering. Turning up the volume doesn’t make it go away, does it? We can numb ourselves and try to sleep for a while, or party it all away, but it is still there when we come up for air.

What we can do is to make choices in little, simple ways—or in radical ways if the Lord is giving us the grace. Turn off the TV and cell phone for a bit. Take out our ear buds. Choose carefully what we read and what movies we watch. Turn down the bass and see if we can hear our own heartbeats, and then the heartbeats of Christ.

If the quiet is too daunting at first, find something like the Taizé music that leads you to silence. Enter silence with Christ and do not be afraid.

Which brings me to why we adore.

It’s not to make God love us. He is love and he loves us totally. As Archbishop Raya would say, “No limit, no condition.” We adore God to encounter Love. We adore the Holy One so that we may receive that love who is God and give him to those who are starving. Adoring God reveals to us who we are and why we were made. We can live in the world and not be of the world. He is continually inviting us to do so, but when we’ve filled up our lives with the business and noise, we can’t hear the invitation.

When we adore God, we restore the sense of the sacred that has been lost in our world. The Catholic Catechism says the sense of the sacred is part of the virtue of religion (CCC 2144), which is justice toward God. When we adore God, we are practicing justice toward God and also justice toward our fellow man.

Let me end with Pope John Paul II who is quoted in the catechism as saying, “The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.” (CCC 1380)

Restoration December 2023

Creche carving by Patti Birdsong