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Making Advent a Reality (the seasons are out of whack)
NCR ^ | December 2, 2007 | Jay Dunlap

Posted on 12/02/2007 3:42:10 PM PST by NYer

The seasons are out of whack. And I don’t mean because of climate change or global warming. The seasons I refer to are liturgical ones, especially the beginning of the liturgical year: the Advent, followed by the Christmas Season.

You know that the seasons are out of whack. We’ve all seen the Christmas decorations emerge in autumn like the changing of the leaves. By October, the retail world is in full-scale Christmas mode, with only a thin veneer of Halloween and Thanksgiving cosmetics around the edge. At their core, the stores are all about Christmas.

By the time Thanksgiving has come and gone, everything — especially in our media culture — is in full Christmas mode.

If one knew nothing of the liturgical calendar (and how many really do?), one might think the Christmas season actually does begin the day after Thanksgiving and lasts until Dec. 25, when it abruptly ends with the opening of presents and the filling of trash bags with torn wrappings. Out goes the tree, end of season.

Of course, the season that actually begins around the time of Thanksgiving is Advent, the period including the four Sundays before Christmas, our time of waiting for the coming of the Lord. It is supposed to be a mini-Lent, a time of fasting and preparation to receive the newborn Lord of Lords.

Then Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, launches the real Christmas season that lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Jan. 13.

In our homes and families, how can we restore the order of the liturgical calendar? How can we make Advent a time of spiritual preparation, and let Christmas be Christmas?

In our home, we’ve had some success over the past few years reclaiming Advent by fasting from all electronic media. That may sound difficult, but the fact is it’s quite easy — certainly easier than when we do it during Lent.

There are so many gatherings and activities and parties in the weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s actually pretty easy to do without television, movies, the Internet.

But wait a minute — that sounds like we’re just replacing media with other forms of pre-Christmas Christmas celebration. How does that help the family focus on Advent?

The other key is to really celebrate Advent with its own traditions: lighting Advent candles in a wreath on the dinner table, along with the prayers provided by our parish. We also have a Jesse Tree, at which we pray every evening of Advent and walk through salvation history with stops that recall all the great moments of the Old Testament that lead up to the coming of the Christ.

Many books and online resources offer great ideas for how to put together a Jesse Tree and pray at it every day. My wife made ours out of felt, with colorful pieces that our children pin to the tree every day of Advent.

Then, once the Christmas season actually arrives, along with the gifts and decorations, out come your favorite Christmas CDs, DVDs and videos.

The family enjoys them for days, making the Christmas season special because it really is when we celebrate, not only with one another but also with Charlie Brown, the Little Drummer Boy and George Bailey.

Best of all, we and our children have spent a month detaching ourselves from the electronic media monster. We have renewed our ability to interact with one another and turn first to one another in friendship, rather than turning to appliances for entertainment.

For me, it’s almost to the point where I look forward to Advent more than Christmas.

Almost.


TOPICS: Catholic; General Discusssion; Prayer; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: advent; christmas
Jay Dunlap is the author of Raising Kids in the Media Age. He writes from South Bend, Indiana.
1 posted on 12/02/2007 3:42:12 PM PST by NYer
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To: NYer

**Making Advent a Reality (the seasons are out of whack) **

The Seasons are not out of whack. The Catholic Church is just basically a month ahead! LOL! Happy New Year!


2 posted on 12/02/2007 3:45:30 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
It is supposed to be a mini-Lent, a time of fasting and preparation to receive the newborn Lord of Lords.

How many Catholics are actually aware of this?

In our home, we’ve had some success over the past few years reclaiming Advent by fasting from all electronic media. That may sound difficult, but the fact is it’s quite easy — certainly easier than when we do it during Lent.

That's the spirit! Just do it! This year, reclaim Advent - enjoy it! Limit your gifts! Consider donating to those who have little or nothing - like Aid to the Church to assist in rebuilding the Chaldean Catholic Churches in Iraq. Poverty is a major problem in Lebanon. Each year, our parishioners give to a needy family in Lebanon. On December 23, our pastor wires the funds collected to a specific individual in Lebanon who ensures that ALL of what has been collected is distributed to one or several (if there is enough money) families. They received the money on Christmas Even with sufficient time to purchase food for their Christmas table and a few small gifts for the children.

The Christmas season begins on Christmas Day and lasts for two weeks. Go out and enjoy all of the splendor with your family. Make this the year you turn off the news and tune in to the festivities offered up in your local parish. You will never regret it.

3 posted on 12/02/2007 3:51:58 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
I know these are all electronic -- but good threads on FR! LOL!

Immaculate Conception Novena -- starts November 30th [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]

Advent 2007 -- Day by Day

Making Advent a Reality (the seasons are out of whack)

The Advent Workshop -- lots of information and activities

Advent Wreath & Candles (Prayers for the Family)

Advent Overview

Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent

Celebrating Christ’s Advent [Archbishop Raymond Burke]

Praying through Advent -- 2006

The Paradox of Advent

Experience the Joy of Advent

Advent: the Reason for the Season

The Advent Wreath

Advent Activity - The Jesse Tree

That incredible shrinking Advent-Christmas season (Christmas should start, not end, Dec. 25)

Advent Thoughts: Some of the Church Fathers on the Divinity of Christ

The Relationship Between Advent and the Change in the Seasons (Dom Guéranger)

4 posted on 12/02/2007 3:57:20 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Advent Wreath & Candles (Prayers for the Family)

Can't figure out why that wouldn't work above. Hmmmm.

5 posted on 12/02/2007 4:00:26 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
It is supposed to be a mini-Lent, a time of fasting and preparation to receive the newborn Lord of Lords.

How many Catholics are actually aware of this?

In our home, we’ve had some success over the past few years reclaiming Advent by fasting from all electronic media. That may sound difficult, but the fact is it’s quite easy — certainly easier than when we do it during Lent.

That's the spirit! Just do it! This year, reclaim Advent - enjoy it! Limit your gifts! Consider donating to those who have little or nothing - like Aid to the Church to assist in rebuilding the Chaldean Catholic Churches in Iraq. Poverty is a major problem in Lebanon. Each year, our parishioners give to a needy family in Lebanon. On December 23, our pastor wires the funds collected to a specific individual in Lebanon who ensures that ALL of what has been collected is distributed to one or several (if there is enough money) families. They received the money on Christmas Even with sufficient time to purchase food for their Christmas table and a few small gifts for the children.

The Christmas season begins on Christmas Day and lasts for two weeks. Go out and enjoy all of the splendor with your family. Make this the year you turn off the news and tune in to the festivities offered up in your local parish. You will never regret it.

6 posted on 12/02/2007 4:02:32 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
Consider donating to those who have little or nothing - like Aid to the Church to assist in rebuilding the Chaldean Catholic Churches in Iraq. Poverty is a major problem in Lebanon. Each year, our parishioners give to a needy family in Lebanon...

How would you suggest we do this?

7 posted on 12/02/2007 5:18:51 PM PST by omega4412 (Multiculturalism kills. 9/11, Beslan, Madrid, London, Salt Lake City)
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To: Salvation

OK, so I have been pondering visible symbolism for Advent. When all of the neighbor’s Christmas lights are going up, what can we do to represent Advent in a visible way? A few ideas:

Purple flood lights?

Purple lights on the trees and shrubs?

An advent wreath display on the front lawn?

An empty manger?

An outdoor Jesse Tree?

Any other ideas?


8 posted on 12/02/2007 5:25:44 PM PST by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: Huber

Why purple?


9 posted on 12/02/2007 5:27:53 PM PST by Xenalyte (Can you count, suckas? I say the future is ours . . . if you can count.)
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To: Huber

So sound excellent.

Just the words, “Keep Christ in Christmas” would be great. Our Knights of Columbus are selling them. I have one for my window (smaller) with Christ in the Crib and Mary and Joseph with the words, “Keep Christ in Christmas.”

I like the purple lights idea — for Advent. No one else would have them. Would you change them to white for the Christmas season then or keep the purple ones? (Now that I think of it — everyone would ask why you had purple lights??)

What a conversation and conversion opportunity!

Blessings.


10 posted on 12/02/2007 5:36:41 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Huber

**An outdoor Jesse Tree?**

This would be excellent, but would motorists be able to see the signs? Or would they just be visible to pedestrians? Guess it depends on where you live.


11 posted on 12/02/2007 5:37:58 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Huber
My Christmas decoration consist of an empty manger. I built it from items from the craft store. I surrond it with hay and put a spot light on it. I then use some clear white lights around it. It is simple and beautiful.

My Christian family and friends really get it. I hope everyone driving by, if even for the moment, is touched by the true meaning of the season.

12 posted on 12/02/2007 5:42:30 PM PST by twin2
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To: Xenalyte
Why purple?

Each season of the liturgical year has an associated color. Purple is used during Advent and Lent, Red (or White) for Pentacost, Green for Ordinary Time, etc.

13 posted on 12/02/2007 6:58:54 PM PST by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: Salvation

Yes, I’m thinking of a dramatic change to white or multicolor on Christmas eve. But first I need to find a purple light merchant!


14 posted on 12/02/2007 7:03:04 PM PST by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: NYer

My parish has a Christmas tree that is setup as a Heart and Hands giving tree. The tree has just lights and heart and mitten hands contruction paper designs with requests for certain donations for those in need, either children or adults.


15 posted on 12/03/2007 3:44:06 AM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
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To: Salvation

True, the Church begins the new year. :)

I look at Advent more not so much as a mini-Lent, but a Joyous preparation for the coming of King of Kings.

Happy New Year 2008 a month ahead!


16 posted on 12/03/2007 3:49:38 AM PST by Biggirl (A biggirl with a big heart for God's animal creation, with 4 cats in my life as proof. =^..^=)
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To: NYer

Do you have a link where one could donate to the Chaldeans in Iraq?


17 posted on 12/03/2007 11:42:30 AM PST by Straight Vermonter (Posting from deep behind the Maple Curtain)
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To: NYer
My Associate Pastor began his sermon yesterday by greeting us:

"Happy New Year"

18 posted on 12/03/2007 11:45:22 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Huber
Any other ideas?

Wait to put any decorations or lights up until Gaudete Sunday, then don’t take them down until after the Feast of the Epiphany.

19 posted on 12/03/2007 7:51:40 PM PST by murphE (These are days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed but his own. --G.K. Chesterton)
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To: murphE

Unfortunately, this would go over most people’s heads, and they would most likely assume that the reason was simply sloth or tardiness. Many, including some very devout protestants, are simply not aware of liturgical seasons.


20 posted on 12/04/2007 3:10:23 AM PST by Huber (And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. - John 1:5)
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To: NYer

I agree that it is necessary to turn off the media, but not just during Advent. TV is a huge monster that we are allowing into our homes and should be shunned completely. I can understand the author’s fellings about the build up to Christmas and the apparent let down after when Christmas appears to be dropped. But I thinkthat it is a good thing that Christmas permeates our culture even if is during advent. It gives a great opportunity to express Christian values, sentiments and thoughts that would otherwise be lacking if our culture completely turned it’s back on Christmas. We can stretch Christmas as long as we like and still enjoy it’s popular expressions in the culture of commercialism. What we need to do is to reclaim Christmas by entering into the process and transforming it. Chesterton once said that the Protestant Churches serve a very important roll since there are many peope who would not accept anything from the Catholic Church. Like wise without the popular flood of pre-Christmas activity many would know nothing of Christ at all. We need to be like St. Francis and go into the town square and walk around to preach the Gospel without words. The best thing that one can do for one that you love is to be there for them, even when they don’t want you around.


21 posted on 12/04/2007 3:29:15 AM PST by RichardMoore (MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL! Jesus, I trust in You!)
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