Digitally Remastered!

Saturday Night Live ran a skit years ago in which Jimmy Fallon played Nick, “your company’s computer guy.”  He knew everything and you knew nothing. Sure, he tried to explain it to you, but ended up saying, “Move…” and worked magic on your system himself, while he laughed at jokes that only he understood. (“You’d laugh too if you only understood Javascript.”)

The funny thing is, at the time I worked at a school where the IT guy’s name was Nick. He was one of the most competent people I have ever worked with. He was under the impression that, since teachers do lots of work at home, his job extended to our home computers. I wasn’t about to tell him no. So once I brought in my home computer, that was hopelessly messed up, and all my fault. I had misused it, I hadn’t been careful. “Nick, do you think you can do anything?”

“Just leave it to me.”  And I did.

After a week, he tells me it’s ready. It was unrecognizable. “I made a few upgrades,” he says.

It turns out his bag of tricks had memory cards, video cards, and an assortment of other goodies, including a more recent operating system.  The combination of my stupidity and Nick’s generosity led to a wonderfully restored computer (which, years later, I am still using to write these words.)

I thought of Nick this Christmas, and not only because his Christmastime wedding was one of the most amazingly beautiful weddings I ever attended.  I thought of Nick during the opening prayer.

As the priest prayed the opening prayer at Christmas day mass, he said, “O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature, and still more wonderfully restored it, grant, we pray, that we may share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

So basically, God pulls a Nick on us, or Nick pulled a God the Father on my PC.  We had damaged our nature through sin, through our own fault. And God, in his Son coming to us and saving us from our sins (Jesus means “God saves”) restores our nature, and gives us a free upgrade.

We had been running on HumanNature 6.0 (made on the 6th day of creation) which was state of the art at the time. Man is the only material being that has reason and will, who can know and love God. But our destiny was a natural one. Earthly paradise was great, until the Fall when we damaged our nature.

So through Christ’s coming to us and sacrificing Himself for us, we get HumanSuperNature 7.0 based on grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the Hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, the Holy Spirit is called “paternae dextrae digitus” (The finger of the Father’s right hand.)

By baptism, then, we have been digitally remastered! We have been out back together, and put in proper working order.

And that order is that our relationship with God is the most important one. The computer’s most important cables are what connects it to electricity and what connects it to the internet.  God is both for us, he is the source of our natural life, and the source of our supernatural life.  You won’t be able to do much with your PC if there’s no power. And, these days, you can do little if it’s off line.

The Holy Father, in his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, the Infancy Narratives, reminds us “Man is a relational being. And if his first, fundamental relationship is disturbed –his relationship with God- then nothing else can truly be in order.” (p. 44)

That is why Pope Benedict, during his homily at midnight Mass of Christmas Eve, taught that when we have no room for God, our relations with others are affected. “We are so ‘full’ of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger.”

And since that tranquility that comes from having things in order is what we call peace (St. Augustine famously defined peace as “the tranquility of order,”) if we don’t have God in his place, we cannot have peace in ourselves or with others.  “Where God is not glorified, where he is forgotten or even denied, there is no peace either.”

But the upgrade of our nature doesn’t only put things in order. We have also been given abilities we did not have before. Our intellect and will can know and love God directly, not only through creation, but supernaturally, through the virtues of faith, hope and charity. We can call upon strength from on high, downloading the graces we need, so to speak.

So as the kids play with their new Christmas toys, it is time for each of us to keep unwrapping the amazing gift of gifts: our adoption, through Christ, into the Royal Family of the Universe. Our destiny is no longer earthly paradise, but a Heavenly one, with Christ in the true hour of the Father.

This Year of Faith is a great time to ponder the inner workings of grace in our lives.

There are times we won’t understand it, and God will ask to take over. All we have to do let Him act when He, with the voice not unlike SNL’s Nick tells us, “Move…”

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.