Anticipating Advent

I find myself getting enthusiastic not about Thanksgiving or Christmas–and certainly not the steady stream of stupid ‘Christmas music’ they play on the radio. Instead I’m anticipating Advent. I’m looking forward to beginning again and living again the great cycle of redemption.

I am also beginning to realize not only how weary I am of the secularization of holidays in the United States, but the blatant and crass commercialism of it all. It’s like the devil has planned a deliberate alternative to the liturgical year. We have Advent and Christmas and Epiphany and Ordinary Time and the blessed season of Lent and Easter and Ascension and Pentecost and all these great religious seasons.

Instead El Diablo offers us a ‘shopping opportunity’ every month of the year. Halloween and Thanksgiving followed by Christmas and New Years followed by Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day and Easter and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Fourth of July and Off to the Beach and Back to School and Labor Day and the Halloween again. It is like the whole American society troops off to celebrate this crass, artificial holiday routine.

I’m trying more and more to forget about all that. I don’t want to be a party pooper. Far from it. But instead I want to live the mysteries. I want to celebrate Advent with anticipatory excitement and a penitential mood. I want to welcome the seasons of the year in harmony with the rhythms of redemption, and I also want to do all this without a pious sense of indignation at the secular, commercialism. I don’t want to march off in a huff to ‘be religious instead’.

It needs to be simple and secret and safe. It’s almost as if I want to do all this on my own and with my family and parish and the whole glittery Wal-Mart, Shopping Mall, Hallmark Cards, Television Specials materialistic America can go to hell. Now that sounds harsh, but I don’t use the words lightly. It does seem to me more and more to have come from hell as a kind of fiendish imitation of what we should really be doing–

–and if it came from hell, I’m very happy for it to go back where it came from.

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  • doctoreric

    Father, I have my own stash of Advent songs that I listen to on CD in the car. Only after Christmas do I listen to Christmas songs (real Christmas songs) and I will do so until the Feast of the Presentation.

  • Brother Mark Menegatti OSA

    "It needs to be simple and secret and safe."There is typically much protest going on against secular materialist commercial consumer america not being Christian enough in its secular materialist commercial consumer holiday gig.I am almost relieved that they are less Christian. It is hysteria, all of this "holiday" business.We get to have our own special, secret, and safe commemoration.Our coworkers, and perhaps even some family will feel forced to go to silly "holiday" parties with coworkers they don't particularly like, and gift exchange trash with people they don't much care about.And then, we go off to encounter the arrival of the Savior of the Universe. We anticipate with hope, and then we celebrate with genuine and deep joy.It will be a good witness in the long run won't it?

  • jedesto

    Here's an idea. Delay your holiday party until after December 25 and encourage your Catholic group or organization to do the same. PREPARE during Advent and CELEBRATE during Christmastide (to use an almost forgotten term for the season) in sync with the Church's liturgical cycle. If it's too late for this year, try it in 2012.

  • Rose

    AMEN Father!

  • Sarah

    Amen to you Father, and to Brother Mark's comment. Target's holiday signage should not affect how you remember baby Jesus. For me, December will entail Advent hymns and Old Testament readings, not a continuous cycle of obnoxious covers of "O Holy Night." I particularly dislike the maudlin Hallmark special sentiments of magic/dreams coming true. As if you wish hard enough Santa will bring you a boyfriend/new family/job of your dreams. The Incarnation is a story of hoping and trusting in God amidst suffering, not getting everything you want tied in a tidy bow.

  • Denver

    A couple of others. Local art galleries focus on "First Friday" parties and a plethora of media sites promote "meatless Mondays". There are already good observances for first Fridays and a better day to go meatless.

  • Alice Seidel

    Yes, it does, it needs to be simple and secret and safe. I love Advent. It's my very favorite season in the church, and I have much to read, and contemplate with its arrival. I agree that Christmas has been hijacked and it's all so disgusting, the commercials, the crassness, that absolute cluelessness as to what Christmas is all about!"the holiday" are my two least favorite words!

  • priest’s wife

    It is a battle to be able to live the Advent season when the world is doing a commercialized Christmas- We fast as much as possible- and make sure to celebrate Christmas at least until Epiphany

  • priest’s wife

    but remember— "Holidays" means HOLY days- so even when people are trying not to say Merry Christmas- they still are! ;)

  • Southern Baron

    My parish has an Advent Lessons and Carols service the afternoon of the Fourth Sunday. And it is definitely what we say it is, not a Christmas concert. Relevant readings interspersed with relevant hymns, and some general Marian pieces too. If you look online there are several such services recorded for sale, Catholic and Anglican, which are a great help if you want to play music in your house that will get you in the right "spirit" of anticipation.

  • Bryan

    People say, "Put Christ back in Christmas." I say, "Put Mass back in Christmas." I'm perfectly happy to have Thanksgiving serve as an American Fat Thursday prior to the season of Advent. But, yes, let's remember that the color is purple on Sunday. Feast when we wear white again.