By TARA CONNOLLY
“The ghost of Christmas present is ‘busyness.’ We are much too busy to focus on what the Advent season is really about,” said Deacon James Russo Dec. 15 during the Commission for Women Advent Day of Reflection at the Jesuit Center, Wernersville.
Deacon Russo, who is assigned to St. Mary, Kutztown presented “Advent: New Church Year, New Me” and discussed Catholic perspective on the Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.”
“Jesus is the key to joy. This is it. We know the ending of our story. It’s a great ending. So, why don’t we live the rest of our lives joyfully?” asked Deacon Russo.
Like Ebenezer Scrooge, he told the women that they too are on a journey that involves reflecting on the past, dealing with problems and moving forward.
“We have to remember that Christmas is Christ’s birthday. It is he who brings us joy. We should be living in joy because he is among us,” said Deacon Russo.
Although Christ is not physically among people, Deacon Russ said he is asking them to take the baton and bring his love to others.
“It could be something simple as a holding a door or sharing a sandwich with someone who forgot their lunch. Things like that tells everyone who we are,” he said.
“The busyness is going to kill us. This is not what we are invited to by Jesus. We need to be more conscious and put the phones down. It’s not healthy for relationships,” added Deacon Russo.
He pointed out how life becomes too busy when retailers signal the start of the Christmas season the day after Halloween and how people are overworked.
“The message during the season of Advent is to ‘slow down.’ We need to be more conscious when we are not at work. Don’t let work drive us and dictate our energies,” said Deacon Russo.
In addition he note the difference between happiness and joy and told the women that happiness is a feeling based on circumstances and joy is an attitude that defies certain circumstances.
Deacon Russo also pointed out Scrooge’s dismay when the Ghost of Christmas Present sprinkles incense on the meals of the poor and his annoyance with stores being closed on Sundays.
“Scrooge wants everyone to get the same amount and feels it is not just. But God teaches us that others sometime need more than we do. Scrooge also comes from a background of being in love with money,” he said.
“So many people want to be God and take charge of their own life. If you really want to be God – go forgive someone,” suggested Deacon Russo.
While examining the Ghost of the Future, he told the women that the future is frightening because it is unpredictable.
“Worry is not going to change anything about the future. We have to live life without fear. It is difficult to do – but we can do it,” stressed Deacon Russo.
“I am not saying walk around with your heads in the clouds. I am asking you not to let the future define you. God created you for a purpose. He loves you too much to leave you behind,” he said.
Advising the women to use the day to transform themselves, Deacon Russo warned them that they will make mistakes – but their minds and hearts will be renewed.
“Scrooge’s transformation was from antisocial to social. Instead of living in isolation – he began to live among people and helped others. Doesn’t that sound like Jesus?’ he said.
“It all starts right now. Transform your life today and renew your hearts,” said Deacon Russo.
The day also featured Liturgy of the Hours, recitation of the rosary, Mass and a final blessing.