THE DIVINE ROMANCE OF CHRISTMASTIME
Many of us have known and have loved the story of Cinderella; the tale of the poor girl left alone in the cold and gloomy kitchen until she was rescued, wooed, and wed by the Prince of her dreams. I wonder how many of us can contemplate the thought of knowing likewise that the story of Cinderella reflects also the story of Humanity in disguise? If we examine this allegory, we can see that for thousands of years before Christ this Cinderella had sat helpless and forlorn at the cold hearth of heathendom, shut out from the festive ball of Paradise and utterly destitute of any means for bettering her condition. Likewise most of the human race before Christ had either been enslaved or held under the cruel domination of the greedy conqueror of the Roman Empire. Charity, as a virtue, was almost unknown. There was no such thing as a hospital or any charitable institution for the poor. So the human race was really like a Cinderella, destitute and forced to labour for her cruel and haughty stepmother, the pagan demons of a world-wide idolatry.
Then came the Prince, God’s own Son, to rescue the Cinderella of Humanity. He came in the disguise of a beggar, in that He had to assume the flesh and blood of our destitute and helpless human race. Moreover, He actually wedded our poor Humanity by uniting it---actually making it one---with His own divinity to form the Mystical Body, of which He is the Head and we the members.
But; the most remarkable thing about the Cinderella story is that it never grows old or dated, since it is re-enacted every year during reflections of Advent and Christmastime by each one of us, the modern Cinderella’s of Humanity. This Cinderella story began for most of us when we were unbaptized infants, we were like poor little Cinderella’s at the cold hearth of un-redemption. But at our baptism the Prince came down spiritually in sacramental form and wedded each one of us individually uniting our human nature to His divinity; in so close a union that individually in God we became “two in one flesh”. This He did by sharing with us intimately, His own divine “Life”, which we Catholics call “Sanctifying Grace”; which works a wonderful change in us, as if we had been a marble statue that Christ had suddenly changed to a real infant with flesh, warm and alive. Something new was added in our baptism to make each of us individually super-natural. Now His Life flows through us just as truly as our own blood circulates through our entire human flesh. This, then, is a real love story in our life journey, the sublimest, and most enchanting romance ever imagined. But what has all this to do with Christmas? Our divine romance with the Prince of our dreams, since we the Church our His Bride, is re-enacted each year at this time beginning in Advent through the season of Christmas and indeed throughout the year all through are lives.. After all Advent is a threefold event: a past, present, and future. The past, we are all familiar with the first Advent coming, of the Prince "Christ" coming to earth in Bethlehem some two-thousand years ago, when He wooed and won Humanity as a whole. But few Catholics realize today that the Advent of Christmas is also a very real coming of the Prince to each one of us with all the special graces that His first coming brought.
This means that when Christ comes down miraculously on the altar at our Christmastime Mass, when He comes into the very core of our inner heart during Christmas communion, He comes most especially as a Prince in order to woo and awe and wed us individually to a life of divine romance, still a closer union with Him. That is to say, that “Our Christmas”, “Your Christmas”, “My Christmas”, this year should mean a real growth in union and intimacy with Christ.
There is also a third Advent coming that Christmas means for all of us. Namely; it is a preview of the last great Advent of the Prince who comes by promise to take the Cinderella’s of Humanity with Him into His kingdom for eternity. This coming of Christ, which Christmas celebrates by anticipation, is almost unknown to our present generation, but the Church sings about it in the Advent hymn of her liturgy.
Hark! an awe-full voice is sounding:
"Christ is nigh! it seems to say;
"Cast away the dreams of darkness
O ye children of today...
So when next He comes with glory,
Wrapping all the earth in fear.
may He then as our Defender
On the clouds of Heaven appear.
("Lauds of Advent")
Nor is this the reminder of this Third-Coming so far-fetched as anyone might suppose. For the Prince who comes down upon the Holy Altar at the Consecration of the Christmas Mass, the Christ who comes into into our hearts in our Christmas Communion, is the self-same King of Glory, the identical Person who will come in power and majesty on the last day of the world. So this Advent is the time given to us to anticipate, to prepare for, the last Advent coming, not in the spirit of fear, but of glad welcome for the Prince of our dreams, so we may possess Him for all eternity in that closest union of divine romance, of which human marriage is but a faint figure here on earth.