2001-12-23 The four weeks of Advent have be a chance to consider "The Four Last Things..."

December 23, 2001

The four weeks of Advent have be a chance to consider "The Four Last Things." If Christians let the season pass without contemplating the mysteries of Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell, they have shortchanged themselves and have quite missed the point of living in God's grace. Many writers have said in different ways what even so skeptical a man as George Bernard Shaw said cogently: "Hell is the place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself." We were made to adore God and to give him delight. Everything else follows, and without adoration, every attempt to delight the self becomes unsatisfactory and even self-destructive.

This parish newsletter covers both the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas, so I really do not want to dwell on Hell, let alone go there. Suffice it to say that Hell is all that Heaven is not, Satan is all that God is not, the angels are all that evil spirits are not, the saints are all that sinners are not, and the Church is all that chaos is not. That is putting it negatively; you can say the same thing positively just by reversing the order and it is equally true. And it is also equally simple. A world famous astrophysicist at the Johns Hopkins University said not very long ago that if the material equation for the physical origin of the universe ever were discovered, we would be astonished at its simplicity. He was not referring to God the Creator, who is beyond the province of material science, but to the original matter of things. Yet, had we the pure simplicity of angelic intelligence, we might understand divine mysteries. For us, the simplest things may be the hardest to understand, just as wise men have observed that the biggest things are the hardest to see. These paradoxes only point up the deepest mystery whereby our God and Saviour was born as a baby.

No utterance will ever demand as much of the intellect as those words written by St. John: "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." The humble shepherds were wise and the wise men were humble because they simply adored the mystery. As a parish, an archdiocese, and members of the Universal Church, we may convert a troubled world and reconvert our own souls by making adoration the first motion of our day and the constant motive of our lives.

Fr. George W. Rutler

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