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Rediscovering Advent in the (St.) Nick of Time
CatholicExchange.com ^ | December 2nd, 2008 | Doreen Truesdell

Posted on 12/02/2008 8:50:36 PM PST by Salvation

Rediscovering Advent in the (St.) Nick of Time

December 2nd, 2008 by Doreen Truesdell

I have to hurry up and write this because if I don’t get it done in time the season will be past and it will be too late to do all of those things that people do this time of year like decorating with trees and colored lights and shopping for gifts for those we love and those we don’t and going to parties to eat and drink too much before coming home and making a list of all the errands we still have to run and all of the responsibilities we still need to fulfill in order to make it that extra special, particularly meaningful, completely wonderful holiday season that I absolutely have to have, should have, and determinedly will have this year for me and for my family and friends.

Are you anxious yet? The season has just begun and already many people are on edge, some even dreading the holiday season. It doesn’t help that FM radio stations started playing Christmas carols three weeks before Thanksgiving and that many of our neighbors strung icicle lights on their homes the day after Halloween. Even the calendar is against us this year: by the time you get the turkey platter washed and put away, it’s time to unpack your wreath for the first Sunday of Advent.

Breathe deep. Now is the time to remember the purpose of the beautiful Advent season. It’s time to find the pause button in a fast-forward world. Advent is a season of truth that dispels anxiety and cultural deceptions. It is wisdom amid confusion. It is sanity when all about us is chaotic.

Advent teaches us to prepare in a very different way from the usual material rush, in a way that requires stillness instead of motion, and pondering instead of doing. There are no doorbuster coupons or 6 a.m. sales in Advent. The challenge of Advent is the Christian challenge to live in the world, but not be of it; to take a stand, and then kneel down in prayer.

Quietly yet firmly Advent defies the secular tide that has outwardly swamped the coming of Christmas. It is almost entirely an inward season that requires prayer and contemplation to realize its rewards. Advent heals and soothes and asks nothing else from us but a spiritual journey alongside the most joyful events of the Gospel and of all salvation history.

awreath.jpgIt is a penitential season, which explains the violet candles used in our Advent wreaths and vestments at Mass. In its beginning, Advent was marked by a 40-day fast, commencing after the feast of St. Martin’s in November, to prepare one’s soul for the coming of Christ. We’re not meant to celebrate Christmas during Advent. Let me say that again: We are not meant to celebrate Christmas during Advent. We are meant to examine our hearts and reflect on the way we live our lives, so that we can be ready for Christ’s coming into them.

One of the most beautiful aspects of Advent is its attitude of patience. In contradiction to the rest of society’s celebration of Christmas, Advent reins us in and feeds us slowly on the Word of God. In fact the hardest part about keeping the spirit of Advent is guarding against our own will to “get something done now.” The crush of secular culture can be so fierce this time of year, and it’s a virtue to be able to reject it and embrace the patient waiting of the season, all the while being led by the Scriptures which promise the coming of the King of Kings.

As we patiently wait for the fulfillment of God’s salvific promise, we are imitating the Israelites who waited through centuries for the arrival of the Messiah. We follow the example of Our Lady who, as a Jewish girl, spent her early life waiting with her people for the Redeemer. More intimately, we wait as the Blessed Mother did for the coming of her first-born Son, trusting that our patience and prayerfulness will be rewarded beyond our imagination.

Waiting, preparing — how do we make these notions palatable to ourselves and our families in such a culture as ours? Human nature being what it is, it’s hard to break away from to-do lists and calendars. Just make sure you’re using the right ones. The Church calendar is chock full of Advent-building feast days and traditions throughout the month of December. These individual celebrations act like spark plugs. They are the starting points for spiritual combustion, which produces the energy we need to be faithful all season long:

Feast of St. Nicholas, December 6: What better way to realign our understanding of the season than to contemplate the original Santa Claus? The real St. Nicholas was so much more than a jolly old man who gave out presents — he worked miracles and as a Bishop he gave his life to teaching and living the Gospels.

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8: A wonderful way to ponder the mysterious plan of God, this Holy Day of Obligation teaches us that the coming of Christ was prepared for in a singular and blessed manner. Mary’s conception in the womb of St. Anne was brought about without original sin or its stain, without any deprivation of sanctifying grace. Mary was preserved from these defects from the first moment of her existence. Thanks to this mystery, we can say “Hail Mary, full of grace.”

St. Juan Diego, December 9, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12: Prepare to welcome the Christmas Infant by acknowledging the miracle of life itself. As the Protectress of the Unborn, Our Lady of Guadalupe intercedes to safeguard all human life from the moment of conception. The story of St. Juan’s faith in a time of violence and prejudice, and Our Lady’s miraculous gift of roses in winter as a sign of her love for us, is inspiring to people of all ages.

St. Lucy, December 13: Patron saint of the eyes, St. Lucy’s name means “light” illuminating the darkness, as well as the interior light of clear understanding. As we approach the shortest days of the year and darkness envelops our world, St. Lucy reminds us that the Light of the World is coming. Her martyrdom and heavenly reward mirror our desire for faithful patience during the Advent season.

Gaudete Sunday: Marking the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete (broadly translated as Rejoice) Sunday is the day we add the rose candle to the Advent wreath, signifying our anticipation of the joy that is ahead. In a season of prayer and penance, Gaudete Sunday is a glimpse of the Christmas celebration that awaits, giving us strength to continue our journey.

The O Antiphons, December 17 through 23: Late in Advent the final preparation for the coming of Christ is inspired by the great “O Antiphons.” These prayers are seven jewels of liturgical song, one for each day until Christmas Eve. They seem to sum up all our Advent longing for the Savior in poetic and ancient language that Catholics today may recognize as the musical verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Based on scriptural texts, each one is a title for Christ, and each one refers to the coming of the Messiah: O Sapientia (Wisdom); O Adonai (Sacred Lord); O Radix Jesse (Flower of Jesse’s Stem); O Clavis David (Key of David); O Oriens (Radiant Dawn); O Rex Gentium (King of Nations); O Emmanuel (God with Us). The ancient O Antiphons add a spirit of eager expectation to our prayers throughout the final week before Christmas.

What is the reward of Advent? The sweetness of earning Christmas. Earning may be an unusual word to pair with Christmas, and it’s true that God’s gifts can not be earned because they are freely given. It is an entirely human need to earn. Investing ourselves in Advent heightens our understanding, our gratitude and our receptivity of the great gift of Christmas. By giving of ourselves during Advent, we increase our ability to enter into the mystery of God giving Himself to us. Ours is the promise of joy, made particularly piquant by a season spent in faithful expectation.

By keeping Advent we can pace ourselves, grow in faith, and build momentum to a spiritual and emotional apex by December 25. About the time when most people have grown tired and even cynical about the Christmas season, we are just approaching its glorious joy and beginning our celebration. Once again, Catholic tradition provides the antidote for what ails us in the secular world.

One of my favorite Christmas carols is O Holy Night, and the lyrical phrase, “A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices…” At a time when the world is weary from sin and yearning for light in the darkness, Advent is more relevant than ever in teaching us how to prepare for such a gift as Jesus.

Doreen M. Truesdell, a former newspaper journalist, is a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband, Stephen, live in upstate New York with their four homeschooled children, aged 4 to 13.



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: advent; catholic; catholiclist; saints
A blessed Advent to all. Prepare for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
1 posted on 12/02/2008 8:50:36 PM PST by Salvation
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To: All

**By keeping Advent we can pace ourselves, grow in faith, and build momentum to a spiritual and emotional apex by December 25.**

So true. The Christmas season is from Devember 25th through the Epiphany. Our Christmas tree never came down before the Wise Men arrived to adore the newborn King, Jesus Christ. (And that’s when the children could put the Wise Men figures into our Nativity scene!)


2 posted on 12/02/2008 8:52:24 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

3 posted on 12/02/2008 8:53:51 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

**we are just approaching its glorious joy and beginning our celebration. Once again, Catholic tradition provides the antidote for what ails us in the secular world.**

Amen!


4 posted on 12/02/2008 8:55:05 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
Advent Reflections for 2008

Rediscovering Advent in the (St.) Nick of Time
Catholic Traditions for Advent and Christmas
Mary's Gift of Self Points the Way, "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 1 of 4
The Perfect Faith of the Blessed Virgin "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 2 of 4
Theotokos sums up all that Mary is: "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 3 of 4

Reclaiming the Mystery of Advent, Part One: The Meaning of Advent
Renewing the Mystery of Advent, Part Two: The Witness of John the Baptist
Why “Gaudete?”, Part Three (Third Sunday of Advent)
Sunday before Nativity
Holy Mary and the Death of Sin - "The Blessed Mother and Advent", Part 4 of 4

Catholic Liturgy - Rose-Colored Vestments on Gaudete Sunday
Advent through Christmas -- 2007
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
Jesse Trees (genealogy of Jesus activity for families)
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)

5 posted on 12/02/2008 8:57:10 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

bookmark


6 posted on 12/02/2008 9:09:40 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Salvation

I do my home decorating gradually, just like the increasing light on the Advent wreath.

This past Saturday I hung wreaths and an unlit deck garland. I have one wild cedar covered in blue lights and a large star lighted. That’s it.

This Saturday I will light a second wild cedar with blue lights and illuminate the deck garland with blue lights.

At Gaudete I will add blue icicle lights (haven’t found rose ones—yet) and light a third tree with rose lights.

At Advent 4 a fourth outdoor tree will receive blue lights. Plus by then I will have finished adding lights in varying colors to about two dozen more trees.


7 posted on 12/02/2008 9:30:07 PM PST by lightman (BHO: I'd rather defy than deify.)
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To: lightman

Wow! What a sight that must be.

I agree with you on gradually doing things. I know for our five children it worked to go out and get the tree from a tree farm on a weekend. We stuck it in a bucket of water in our carport and put it up the next weekend with the outside lights on the front of our house.

We put the lights on the tree and only lit them to test them, then turned off the lights and didn’t turn them on until Christmas eve. Then the tree stayed illumined through the Epiphany.


8 posted on 12/02/2008 9:58:53 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: GOP Poet; Salvation; lightman

May you experience a blessed and prayerful Advent season.


9 posted on 12/02/2008 10:16:33 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: Ciexyz

Thank you so much Ciexyz. May you too have a blessed and prayerful Advent season. I remember when I was a child I always had an advent calendar. Each day I opened a new door on the calendar and each day was a new image. It was such a special time and being the youngest of a large family, it was one of the few items I had which was mine alone. May each day of the Advent season be a new door :-D.


10 posted on 12/02/2008 10:22:06 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: Salvation

I do not treat Advent so much as time for penence, that is more for Lent, but rather as a time to get ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus as well as to remember his coming at the nativity, at the end of time, and in our lives daily. The purple of Advent I see is a reminder of his kingship with the pink candle for joy.


11 posted on 12/03/2008 3:40:56 AM PST by Biggirl (BlessedAdventChristianNewYear2008-09=^..^==^..^==^..^==^..^==^..^=)
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To: Salvation

Back in Oklahoma, we used to go to the tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving, pick out a tree, and pay for it. Then the weekend before Christmas, we’d go back and cut it and bring it home, so we’d have a fresh tree for the Christmas season.

Last year we decided not to have a tree, because of the kids and the pets. That worked out so well that we’re doing it again this year. Bill can put up lights outside!


12 posted on 12/03/2008 4:13:50 AM PST by Tax-chick ("And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day." (Is. 2)
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To: Salvation

Lutheran Advent Calendar
13 posted on 12/03/2008 9:07:55 AM PST by topcat54 ("Friends don't let friends become dispensationalists.")
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To: Salvation

In fact the hardest part about keeping the spirit of Advent is guarding against our own will to “get something done now.”

&&&
So true. Working on that one really hard here....

Blessings to you, my FRiend.


14 posted on 12/03/2008 9:36:54 AM PST by Bigg Red (Palin in 2012!)
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To: Salvation

I was at St. Vincent’s Hospital yesterday to see my Cardiologist, and was pleased to see that all of the wreaths hanging in the hugh atrium were in ADVENT colors. They did have a large creche set up, but, of course, the Baby Jesus hadn’t arrived. ;o)


15 posted on 12/03/2008 10:21:43 AM PST by SuziQ
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To: aberaussie; Aeronaut; AlternateViewpoint; AnalogReigns; Archie Bunker on steroids; Arrowhead1952; ..


Lutheran Ping!
16 posted on 12/03/2008 3:09:32 PM PST by lightman (BHO: I'd rather defy than deify.)
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To: Salvation

Yea, verily. However, that’s a heap more traditional Roman theology and practice than I could swallow comfortably.

Perhaps someone far more learned than I can tell us: Who does Roman tradition acknowledge as the first Christian saint? Were all those seemingly “saintly” figures in the first century or two of written earthly church history just “grandfathered in” after the Curia had established the criteria for sainthood? And who authorized them to do so? And why?


17 posted on 12/03/2008 4:05:00 PM PST by Elsiejay
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To: Tax-chick

We go to a local Christmas tree farm and get the biggest tree we can find, usually 9-10 feet. I can barely get it in the patio door. Oddly, the big trees are the cheapest ($16) because they are in very low demand. Luckily, the ceiling in the living room is about 20 feet.


18 posted on 12/03/2008 4:14:05 PM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: topcat54; lightman
Stolen from another board:
"Ich sitze hier und trinke mein gutes Wittenbergisch Bier und das Reich Gottes kommt von ganz alleine"

Translation: "I sit here and drink my good Wittenberg Beer, and the Kingdom of the God comes all by itself."

This is most certainly true.

19 posted on 12/03/2008 6:25:11 PM PST by SmithL (Drill Dammit!)
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To: SmithL

Ja, AMEN!


20 posted on 12/03/2008 7:05:02 PM PST by lightman (BHO: I'd rather defy than deify.)
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To: SmithL
Translation: "I sit here and drink my good Wittenberg Beer, and the Kingdom of the God comes all by itself."

Luther would have really had fun with the shrill, self-righteous followers of the Temperance/Prohibitionist movement.

21 posted on 12/03/2008 7:28:40 PM PST by Wilhelm Tell (True or False? This is not a tag line.)
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To: Salvation

We do the same here except for the Wise Men being in our Nativity scene (they’re there from the time we display the Nativity). We have an outdoor and indoor Nativity scene and only the Baby Jesus isn’t there until after Midnight on Christmas Eve.

One of the most beautiful and peaceful times for us is during dinner when we light a candle of our Advent Wreath.


22 posted on 12/03/2008 9:39:33 PM PST by Twink
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To: Twink

**One of the most beautiful and peaceful times for us is during dinner when we light a candle of our Advent Wreath.**

That was peaceful for our family too. But opening the door on the Advent calendar — no. They hated taking turns.


23 posted on 12/03/2008 9:43:44 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: AppyPappy

We had a high ceiling in the house in Oklahoma (constant battle with the spiders :-), and had quite a large tree one year. The cat knocked it over more than once.


24 posted on 12/04/2008 2:29:07 AM PST by Tax-chick ("And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day." (Is. 2)
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To: Tax-chick

I use picture hanging wire to tie it to the beams in the ceiling


25 posted on 12/04/2008 4:00:40 AM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: AppyPappy

We thought about attaching it to the wall too late :-).


26 posted on 12/04/2008 4:26:29 AM PST by Tax-chick ("And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day." (Is. 2)
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To: topcat54; lightman

Thanks for the ping lightman - I’ve never seen that before. I must send that to my cousin. She’ll get a big kick out of that.


27 posted on 12/04/2008 5:10:42 AM PST by Arrowhead1952 (Ba rock O = Bend Over [BOHICA])
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To: GOP Poet; Salvation; NYer
These winter days are short and the skies are gray and overcast until the premature dusk chases the birds away. All very gloomy until we contemplate that the light is never far away: it lies in the serene beauty of the Advent candle. Christ is born, Alleluia!
28 posted on 12/04/2008 2:57:39 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: Ciexyz
:-D. Lovely and inspiring thoughts, truth and poetry Ciexyz. Thank you for the reminder.

I often fly into NW cities that are drearily overcast. You reminded me of how before descending there is often blues skies and sunshine. It is only the clouds that shield its beam. They are not permanent no matter how long and how intense the fall and winter. You reminded me. Glad God gave us these candles to tide us over and bring it to us through the winter skies. :-D Alleluia!

29 posted on 12/04/2008 3:28:44 PM PST by GOP Poet
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To: GOP Poet
yes
30 posted on 12/05/2008 6:24:43 AM PST by stevecmd
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To: Salvation; RichInOC; Prince of Space; JoeFromSidney; TNMountainMan; alphadog; infool7; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

31 posted on 12/12/2013 8:06:09 PM PST by narses (... unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.)
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