Keeping Christ in Advent
Updated: Dec 6, 2017
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
What is one of the best ways to “keep Christ in Christmas”? By keeping the longing for
Him in Advent. I’m sure you’ve all heard your share of “Advent is not Christmas” rants. And let me tell ya, I can rant about it with the best of them! But, let’s take a different course. Let’s assume we all want to make sure we don’t short-sell Advent, so that we can really appreciate and celebrate Christmas in all of its fullness and beauty when it arrives. And let’s consider a few ways to actually do this...
The Principle of Gradualness: Decorate gradually, throughout the season. Maybe even make it a household tradition, which you can build upon in many creative ways, to put one new thing out each day, or a few each week. Sure, put up lights whenever you have time, or while the weather is warmer, but consider waiting to light them until, at least, Gaudate Sunday. Keep Christmas music minimal, perhaps gradually increasing. Focus especially on songs that are actually Advent songs. Be intentional about your holiday greetings. Remember: ‘Happy Holidays’ (Holy Days) is not a secular greeting! Don’t put Jesus in the manger before Christmas or have Magi waiting before He arrives.
Plan to Be in it for the Long Haul: No reason Christmas music, decorations, or treats should ever disappear before the Epiphany (just be prudent with those treats)! Whatever you do, plan to not stop saying ‘Merry Christmas’ until the season is over! Keep moving those Magi a step closer each day!
Celebrate the Sacraments: Sunday Mass is just the beginning. If possible, consider going to an occasional daily Mass or Eucharistic Adoration. Make at least one good confession each Advent.
Bring Prayer Home: Make personal and family time for prayer. Light an Advent Wreath in your home. This too can be a household tradition which can be built upon with the help of the rich tradition of devotions the Church has to offer.
Dive into the Old Testament: Take up some form of a study of the Old Testament. Enter into the spirituality of the people awaiting the Messiah. Pray with the Psalms. Read through a different book of the Prophets each year. Read a book that explains the historical journey of God’s people, such as The Real Story (Edward Sri & Curtis Martin) or A Father Who Keeps His Promises (Scott Hahn). Also, traditions like the Jesse Tree are designed to guide us through that journey.
Speaking of which, we will begin Advent by focusing, each week, on one of the basic components of the Old Testament: Law, Prophets and Writings (Wisdom). Near the middle of the Western wall of our nave is an image (front cover) of the tablets of the law. From the roman numerals on them, we see a glimpse of how the law was always seen as being about Love of God (1-3) and Love of neighbor (4-10). Yet, the books of the law (often called the Torah) offer us not only the commandments themselves, but also the fascinating story of those earliest days of the journey of God with His people. They show us how He made us for Himself, we turn away, and He never stops pursuing us! Even the gift of the law itself was a merciful act of the Father, picking us back up and showing us exactly what we need to do and not do, after generations of creating our own misery. As we anticipate the coming of the Lord to bring us home to Himself, let us reflect on how we can allow God’s commands to better guide our lives.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!
P.S. SAVE THE DATE: This year, we will have a special celebration for the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th-7th). More information still to come in this exciting weekend, but to give you a hint, Epiphany is traditionally a time when we bless homes… and we have a wonderful parish home.