Nov 23, 2011
The season of Advent begins Nov. 27, the Sunday closest to the feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle (Nov. 30). Christmas will follow in four weeks, and it has its proper liturgical place, beginning not on the day after Thanksgiving or before, but at midnight on Christmas Eve. It concludes on the feast of Epiphany. However, the media would have us believe that these weeks before Christmas constitute the holiday season. Then, with the arrival of Christmas Day, the holiday, in the secular mind, is completed except for the post-Christmas sales that rush upon us. Consumerism can preoccupy and stress out families in the face of pre-Christmas sales, and we are already surrounded by trinkets and glut, Hallmark movies, and commercials that tell us what we must have for Christmas. If we’re not buying something, we’re not in the Christmas spirit. This cultural dissonance jars Catholic parents caught between the meaning of Advent and the culture, which is in the wrong time zone. Holiday shopping may run parallel to the Advent season, but there is little resemblance between the two. Advent nourishes the spirit, lifts it up, and prepares for the feast of the Nativity of the Lord. Shopping for trinkets speaks for itself.
What Is Advent?
Advent is not just an anticipation of the Lord’s Nativity; it is the time when the Church commemorates and eagerly awaits with hope the coming of our Emmanuel, God-with-us, expressed in the prayer, “Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus” (1Cor 16:22). With Advent, the Church’s new year of grace has come, and come is the key word for the season. The Church commemorates the Lord’s coming in three different but related ways: he came in time as the Light in the darkness, and is the Light of lights; he comes anew as the Light into the hearts of men and women; and he will come in radiant glory at the end time. Though linked to Christmas, the full celebration of Advent as a distinct liturgical season awaits a renaissance, though the liturgical richness of Advent is challenged everywhere. Except for the Advent ceremonies and prayers at Sunday Mass, in practice, Advent is in danger of disappearing unless we ourselves preserve and celebrate it. December 1 to December 16 recalls Christ’s historic coming at the Incarnation and at the Parousia to fulfill the divine plan. December 17 to December 24 celebrates the prophecies of his coming and his birth of the Virgin-Mother.
A Candle in the Darkness