I hope your Thanksgiving Day was a time of happiness and joy for you and your family. It is always an occasion to gather with family and friends and celebrate God’s bounty and blessings in our lives. I traveled from RI with my two sister to our sister’s home in Saratoga, New York for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was truly a joyful day to be with my family. This year was especially joyful as we are awaiting the birth of my sixth grand-niece in late November. As I write this I am hoping my niece doesn’t give birth during the Thanksgiving meal! God is good and we give Him thanks for the blessings of life, family and faith!
Thanksgiving is over and so to is the Church’s liturgical year. We begin the holy season of Advent next weekend. It seems to get more difficult for us to celebrate Advent, a season of patient and prayerful anticipation. The world around us with its rampant commercialism starts with Christmas in October. It’s on the radio, television and in the stores!
Hopefully as Catholic disciples we can enter in the true meaning of Advent by rejecting the commercial Christmas so common in the world around us. It’s and annual struggle and also a yearly debate about Advent as we rightly ask: “Why do we start to celebrate Christmas so early?” The decorations are up in late October and the carols begin before Thanksgiving. Lots of folks have put up the tree. Little time is dedicated to prayerful preparation of our Saviors’ birth.
It used to be that the tree would not go up until Christmas Eve. Carols would never be heard until the week before Christmas. It also included days of fast and abstinence during Advent and even Christmas Eve was a day of penance! We so looked forward to Christmas because we waited!
Many suggest there’s nothing we can do about it! Society begins the Christmas season on Halloween, and ends it on December 25. Our Church starts preparing for Christmas during Advent with purple vestments, advent wreathes, and no carols or decorations in church. And She begins the Christmas season with Mass on Christmas Eve, and ends it on the Epiphany (the Sunday after New Year’s).
What to do? Well, we can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, as much as we might be nostalgic for a very serious Advent. We’ll have to make some peace with our culture’s way-too-early and too commercial celebration of Christmas.
But we mustn’t forgo a Advent altogether! Spiritually, it’s part of our Catholic life and, even from a human point of view, we’ll enjoy Christmas a lot more if we wait. Remember the old adage: “Pleasure delayed is pleasure enjoyed!”
What can we do to prepare for the great feast of Christmas?
We can add more prayer and silence to our daily life amidst the hectic and noisy schedule before the holiday. We can also make a good, sincere confession before Christmas! We might try to pay attention to the daily Mass readings for Advent, preferably, of course, at Mass itself; but, even if you can’t attend, look them up online and meditate on the Readings from the Bible
We might consider making more acts of charity for the poor and needy. Perhaps not spending as much on ourselves and our own families but putting the poor and needy on our list. Our OLM Outreach is always in need of extra support during the holidays.
We know our culture starts celebrating Christmas way too soon and usually quickly forgets about Advent preparation. But, at least we can try to fight the temptation to give up on Advent and instead strive to live it in our daily lives in the coming weeks. Lets strive to live the noble sentiments that abound during this time of the year: friendship and fellowship, generosity and charity, family unity and reconciliation, helping the poor and hungry, gift-giving, happy memories, and more goodwill towards all.
Wherever, whenever and however we choose to do it, please do Advent! It is far too important to forget and forsake! Without a doubt, Christmas is going to be a whole lot happier and joyful if we truly prepare and patiently wait. Advent is coming, prepare the way!
Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Pats!!!