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Advent Lived Out | KFP Articles
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Friday, 07 December 2012 21:59

 Our pastor made the simple request during his homily this past Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, after some brief comments on all the hoopla and how exhausting it is, the shopping, preparation and Christmas celebration, "Why not just let Advent be Advent."  December would be much better if we just let Advent be Advent and spent our time focused on preparation such as getting the tree up around the 17th of the month, not a mad rush near Thanksgiving and focusing on the spiritual dimension rather than Black Friday and being busy with Christmas parties.  Sure celebrate a little on the Feast of St. Nicholas and Immaculate Conception but let the wisdom of the Catholic liturgical calendar make December rewarding and more relaxed. 

 This has been an important point to me for years now.  What a joy life is when lived according to the liturgical calendar.  Christmas is often over about the time it really starts if we observe it according to the commercial marketing calendar.  Fortunately, I found a blog post by Fr. Zenhle from Spriongfield, Illinois that made some very reasonable suggestions.  First what is Advent about:

The spirit of Advent, if you will, is simple and "has a two-fold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time" (Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 39).

The Fr. Zenhle gives us 17 suggestions, here's a few of them:

  1. Find a good book on Advent or Christmas and read it prayerfully through the days of Advent.  In this Year of Faith, this is a particularly good idea.
  2. Put up your Christmas tree - but only with lights - on December 17th, when the O Antiphons begin.  It is on this day that the readings at Mass begin to shift their focus from the Second Coming of the Lord to his birth in Bethlehem.  Don't neglect to use the first part of Advent to prepare for the Last Day.
  3. Put the rest of the ornaments on the tree on December 24th, or perhaps add a few ornaments each day between December 17th and December 25th.
  4. If you insist on putting up your tree early, use it as a Jesse Tree.
  5. Don't forget an Advent calendar to help mark the time and keep you focused.
  6. Don't put out your Nativity set until December 17th, but leave the stable and the manger empty.  Put the Magi on one side of the room and the Mary and Joseph on the other.  Begin moving Mary and Joseph a little each day toward the stable; do so with the Magi beginning with Christmas itself.  The shepherds you can leave milling about the stable watching their sheep.
  7. Go to confession before the Season of Advent begins.  And go again before Christmas.
  8. Find your Advent Candles now (and a wreath, if you don't have one).  I saw a set of candles the other day at Hallmark and at Yankee Candle (it's not always easy to find a set of Advent Candles, and it's not always to find three purple and one pink candle individually).
  9. Write a few Christmas cards each day and pray for those who will receive them.  This will help from feeling overwhelmed by attempting them all at on

My wife and I are big fans of vespers on Christmas Eve in lieu of a Vigil Mass, a Christmas candle in the window, a well prepared fish meal and joyful moderation leading up to Midnight Mass or Christmas Day Mass.  And my favorite is to observe the Christmas season by celebrating Little Christmas, the Feast of Epiphany. 

 


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