Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Father Rutler on Chesterton and Advent

Father George Rutler comments in his weekly column from the Church of St. Michael in New York City:

It would be hard to think of any writer in the last several generations who celebrated Christmas as heartily as G. K. Chesterton. It was precisely because of this, and not in spite of it, that he said with a severity not characteristic of his benign personality: “There is no more dangerous or disgusting habit than that of celebrating Christmas before it comes.”

Dangerous, that is, because the rush neglects the deepest mysteries of life which are the stuff of Advent meditations: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell; and by that neglect we are abandoned to a life of anxiety, unable to know why we were made or what we are to become. Disgusting, that is, because rushing Christmas spoils the appetite for higher things and tries to replace holy joy with entertainments that quickly become boring.

Our Chesterton Christmas at Eighth Day Books in right in the heart of Advent, but our focus is on preparing for Christmas--since our group has been meeting at Eighth Day almost every third Friday of the month to read and discuss Chesterton's Father Brown Stories, essays, The Everlasting Man, The Ballad of the White Horse, and The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic, we wanted to celebrate Eighth Day Books and Chesterton when it would do Eighth Day Books the most good, during the Christmas shopping season. After all, part of the Advent season preparation is buying the gifts we want to give on Christmas day.

After an early December vacation, however, I need to rededicate myself to Advent preparations. While in an elegant cabin at the Big Cedar Lodge, I worked on my Newman Lecture for Newman University, and my husband and I did say our daily prayers, but we were relaxing and eating some very nice food, so I need to buckle down! I'll also be preparing for our Chesterton Christmas with posts the rest of this week about Chesterton and Dickens.

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