|Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,|
the official start of the "Christmas Season"
Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
But even the Macy's Parade is an entire month before Christmas. How is it that we are celebrating Christmas when it hasn't even started yet? Is there really any difference between starting the "Christmas season" 30 days before Christmas as opposed to 90 days before? Either way, when Christmas Day actually arrives, most people are so sick of it they just want it over with.
And what the heck has a big Snoopy float got to do with the true story of Christmas? The real Christmas story is about God in the second Person of the Trinity coming down to earth and taking on the nature of man in order to "save us all from Satan's power when we have gone astray", or as Philippians 2:6-7 says:
Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.Today, December 2, is the beginning of Advent. The dictionary gives us two definitions for the word Advent:
1. The arrival of a notable person, thing or event.
2. The first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
|The Liturgical Year|
beginning with Advent
Thus, there were no parades, no parties, no festive lights, no gift giving, no rushing about in stores and knocking each other down to get the latest gadget. There were just two people who were silently preparing themselves to welcome their Lord and Savior into the world.
There is a wonderful new publication out that is a sort of "Magnificat" magazine for those who prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, or the Traditional Latin Mass as many of us call it. It is called "Laudamus te" and the first issue just came out. It contains the ordinary of the Mass along with readings for each day, and other articles and features as well. This first issue is, unsurprisingly, dedicated to observing Advent. It contains an article written by Father James Fryar, FSSP, entitled "An Anxious Waiting." Father Fryar answers the question of whether we should be playing Christmas music during Advent, or putting up Christmas decorations or even attending Christmas parties during the season of Advent.
Father Fryar writes:
The reason society celebrates Christmas after Thanksgiving is primarily for commerce -- which is completely wrong. We should not be celebrating Christmas in order to make a profit and sell merchandise. This is clear. However, during the time of Advent, we should be longing for and awaiting the time of Our Savior, just as the patriarchs of the Old Testament did. Many of the holy texts of the Mass point us in that direction:
To Thee have I lifted my soul; in Thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded. (Ps 14:1, First Sunday of Advent.)
Christmas parties are definitely not what we want to do during Advent. During Advent we want to mortify ourselves and fast. We want to keep vigil with the virgins with their lamps, awaiting the coming of the bridegroom (Mt. 25). Our Divine Master once posed the question to the Pharisees: 'Can the children of the marriage fast, as long as the bridegroom is with them?' (Mk. 2:19). Likewise, we could say it is not right to feast before the bridegroom arrives.
All of the lights and celebration are there to draw us in, to celebrate a season that has nothing to do with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is not until December 25. Ironically, the world considers December 25 to be the end of Christmas. The lights, trees and decorations will be coming down shortly after Christmas Day. You will not hear any more Christmas music after December 25. There will be no more "Christmas" shows on TV, no more "Christmas" parties. The "celebration" will be at an end. Just at the time when the True Light will have come into the world beckoning us to come to Him, the world will turn its back and return to the darkness and emptiness.
But December 25 will be just the start of a time of celebration for those of us who will have spent the prior weeks as a time of mortification and penance. December 25 is not the end of Christmas but just the beginning. There are 12 days of Christmas, as the song says, which takes us to January 6, the time of the Epiphany. This will not be a time of drunken carousing and crass materialism, but a time of celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, who is come to save the world from death and darkness.
But from now until December 25 we should all be preparing our minds and hearts to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ and to understand more completely the great significance of His coming to Earth. It means separating ourselves from the illusions of the world and turning towards the reality of God. As we are told in the readings from today's Mass:
May we receive Thy mercy, O Lord, in the midst of Thy Temple, that we may with becoming honor prepare for the approaching solemnities of our redemption.
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