Our Guest

Holman Hunt was once showing some visitors round his studio; they stood before his well-known picture, ‘Light of the World.’

‘Surely you forgot something there,’ said one visitor. ‘Look, there’s no handle on the door.’

‘It was not a mistake,’ explained the artist. ‘This door represents the human heart, and it opens only from the inside.’

Our Lord stands outside and waits for us to say: ‘Come in.’ He will never force an entrance. It is for us to invite Him or not, as we choose.

Some Catholics keep Him standing at the door from one Easter duty to another.

– Rev. F.H. Drinkwater,  Catechism Stories Part IV: The Sacraments (1939)

Your Advent Homework

There are many ways in which the Church is out of step with our secular culture, but I think in no way more obvious than at this time of year. While the wider culture seeks to rush us towards Christmas (carols on the radio before Halloween? Really?!), the Church asks us to slow down and wait. While lights are strung and increasingly outrageous decorations are mounted on the front lawn, we light candles on the Advent wreath. While television commercials entice us to buy more and bigger, the Church points to a child born in poverty in a manager.

This is a great time of year to remind ourselves — and the families in our Catholic schools and parish catechetical programs — about what is really important.

If I could make a small request, I would ask every catechist and catechetical leader to invite your families to Christmas Mass. Not with a note or Sunday announcement, but a face-to-face invitation. I know not every Catholic family is in the habit of attending Mass every Sunday. But if we could encourage them to start out the Christmas season on the right foot — not by tearing open wrapping paper, but by giving thanks to the God that has blessed them — we just might start a few more on that path. And what a glorious gift that would be.