“Once upon a time….“ These are Advent words. “The Days are coming,” crones the Prophet Jeremiah like Bing Crosby. His words tickle our fancy with a time to come when all God’s children can dwell together in harmony. It takes imagination to do this season well. In Advent we let ourselves dream of another way of being human and of living on our mother the earth. St. Paul in Thessalonians, his oldest letter, invites us to “strengthen your hearts” at the coming of the Lord Jesus, “and abound in love for one another.” But first we must let down our guard and lean away from our sometimes overly scheduled lives, for some quality dreamtime.
Kids will challenge to do this season consciously, “on purpose.” Luke ‘s Gospel notes that the biggest temptation is to give into “the drowsy-ies,” a little boredom and cynicism at life’s “same olds – same olds.” The southwestern desert, invites us to do this Arizona style, and to clear a still space to attend better to Christmas longings. The chill in the air and the colors of the sunrise, are signs of the great beauty beyond the horizon. Can we not hold back a little on the decorating as we start Advent? Keep the space of our homes clear and simple to celebrate the nativity with more pizzazz. It is even more important, perhaps, to do this in Advent, since our culture tends to ignore the season and jump into Christmas in October.
Carols mark Advent’s four weeks – These lyrics and melodies we immediately recognize and know, “by heart.” The General Instruction of the Roman Missal asks that in Advent the organ and other musical instruments be used with a moderation, a sense of restraint that allows the Christmas season to be a time of greater celebration. “Restraint” is a lovely word for all of us…in the first weeks of this ancient season. Hold back a little in some simplicity and silence these first weeks … to let the nativity of the Lord emerge slowly and in a impassioned crescendo. Epiphany, the week or so after December 25th is another time for the full Christmas feasting. Can we keep our culture from shoving this feast into one day? It is too big and beautiful.
St. Luke is the Christmas Gospel. His stories are also told “by heart.” The Gospel text of “Year C “ will pass us though the major parts of this story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus before next year at this time. He calls us to be “vigilant,” especially with fear. It is the real opposite of love. And it is grabbing at us again, globally, with the violence of the past weeks. Against the fear St. Luke sets “ the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds with power and great glory.”
Join us for the Events of the coming weeks. Dec. 8th is Immaculate Conception and our parish patronal feast. Join us for the vigil since the next day is the “Honor Your Mother” procession from Immaculate Heart and Mass with our bishops. We will welcome the Guadalupe Feast, Dec. 11th this year with a late night Serenade of the “Virgincita” from 7PM through 9PM. We will have the Guadalupe shrine in the front over the blue candle stands. Let us know what you think as a permanent move. “The Giving Tree,” some extended hours for confessions and 5PM Vespers every Sunday afternoon will make these
“pre-joice weeks” before Christmas very special.
A gentle week.
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM