As is our custom, we had Solemn Chapter this morning. Sr. Mary Thomas sang the Announcement of Christmas and then Sr. Bernadette Marie gave this sermon for us to meditate on. We would like to share it with you!
So often now the festivities of Christmas are a far cry from the simple celebrations the early Christians must have celebrated when it was truly and only a religious holy day, and not the secularized version we see celebrated today by the world. Christ is hardly mentioned.
As individuals, the world yearns for peace--peace of mind, peace of soul. They look for peace by accumulating wealth so as not to worry about their future needs. They look for peace by taking care of their bodies, so that they won't get sick and have long lives. They look for peace by indulging in drugs and alcohol so as to forget their past and present problems. Christ came to give us that peace, but when he came, "the world did not know him" (John 1:10) and they still do not know him.
What the world thinks important and necessary is not necessarily so for Christ. Our soul is what is important to Christ, because the soul is eternal. More than anything he wants us to live in everlasting peace with him in the next life.
Christ gave us a key in order to have this peace when he said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." It is not always easy to do God's will. It is not until we let go and surrender our will to God that we find peace. We can never have peace as long as our will is at war with God's will.
We here in the monastery are not immune to the cares of the world, but we have no excuse for losing our peace, because we know Jesus and we know he is with us to help us through difficulties and trials. If ever we lose that peace through sin, then we can thank God for giving us the sacrament of penance to be reconciled, once again, to God and one another.
Although tomorrow is certainly a joyous occasion for us all, I cannot help but feel some sadness because so many are not reaping the fruits of his coming. They don't know his love, and therefore they don't have his peace.
Our prayers and the faithfulness with which we live our consecration are of paramount importance for the conversion of the world. Christ could only feel compassion for such souls and so must we. So I would like to end with a prayer written by the soon-to-be-canonized Pope John XXIII:
O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women this peace
for which they sometimes seek so desperately
and which you alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better,
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts
love and gratitude for your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in your love,
and give us your heavenly peace. Amen.