May all of our readers have an edifying Advent in preparation for this Christmas season! We both look forward to writing many upcoming posts featuring meditations and traditional Advent customs and practices.
As with most everything holy, today’s world has inverted the Advent season. We now have Christmas decorations advertised in department stores and “holiday” music playing on radios before Thanksgiving, sometimes even immediately after All Hallows Eve. Thanksgiving Day is unofficially seen as the beginning of the Christmas season, on which after engorging on enormous amounts of food, many Americans will embark on mad shopping sprees in the middle of the night(“Black Friday“), even going so far as to camp in tents and even start fistfights in order to take advantage of the advertised sales. These “sales” are promoted to the greatest of excesses and vanities in TV, the Internet, newspapers, etc. for the entire rest of the month before Christmas.
Despite all of this commotion about Christmas, however, the true meaning of Christmas is often thoroughly rejected. The very term “Merry Christmas” is shunned by our “politically correct” society and even sometimes forbidden in certain settings. The same goes for public Nativity scenes and almost everything including Our Lord Jesus Christ. Extravagant office parties are held, during which the average employee consumes one or two or several drinks too many. Half-hearted “holiday” cards will probably emphasize “Winter Greetings” with a picture of a plastic “holiday tree”, complete with menorah ornaments. On Christmas Eve, a traditional day of fast. the day is treated about as festive as Christmas Day itself. Many will saunter in to Midnight Mass(or maybe 4PM Vigil Mass) to satisfy their biannual attendance at theNovus Ordo Missae, during which they will most certainly wish to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in their hand. Come December 26, after a day of supposed merriment, Christmas decorations are taken down, garbage collectors collect everyone’s Christmas trees, Christmas hymns abruptly cease being heard, and all those many unwanted gifts are hastily returned to the store. “Christmas” is now over.
Good Catholics, we are called to be shining lights amidst this great darkness. We must put Christ back in Christmas and observe the Advent season faithfully! While many of our coming posts will explain how to do just that, I will now lay a groundwork of principles upon which our future posts will be based off of:
While Advent is a penitential season, it is true that it does not possess the same spirit as Lent. However, much festivities should be avoided. That does not mean that Catholics should be in any way drab. No, good Catholics should never be this way! We should be eagerly anticipating the Birth of Our Savior, the one who has come to redeem us! There are so many traditional customs that are so edifying for families, such as the Advent Wreath and the Jesse Tree.
We may also prepare in a modest manner for Christmas. It is a misconception that Catholics may not start preparing until Christmas Eve. Who starts to prepare for a baby only immediately before he is born? All the more important with the Baby Jesus. If one waits until December 24, there will be a quite a rush to get everything ready, especially for big families. A better approach would be to prepare gradually and modestly prepare throughout Advent, picking up the pace a bit as Christmas draws nearer.
If there is concern about the home looking “too much like Christmas”, there are ways to reinforce the Advent spirit. Much creativity can be put to use! One idea would be to first decorate the tree in Advent colors and then subsequently switch to ones more suitable for Christmas.Finally, what better way is there to prepare for the coming of Our Savior than to examine and prepare our own hearts and souls? A good retreat would be most beneficial in this regard. Let us be ready to welcome our Savior into the world!