Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bishop puts brakes on Christmas...

I learned many things about the Catholic faith when I first got to Assumption Grotto, that I had not known before.

The priests have discouraged the playing of Christmas music and celebrations prior to December 24th. Many at the parish wait until the final days before Christmas to put up their trees. While Christmas trees are parked out by curbsides days after the end of the holiday in neighborhoods, the trees of these Catholics remain up until after Epiphany. This follows the Christian cycle of Christmas, not the secular cycle which begins to play Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Lest Christmas go the way of the Easter with the Easter Bunny in Christiam homes, I hope more bishops and priests will speak out on this.

Deacon Greg Kandra blogs about Bishop Wester of Salt Lake City, Utah and his pastoral letter: Waiting in Joyful Hope! A Pastoral Letter to the Church of Salt Lake City on the season of Advent

This is just an excerpt. You need to follow the link to the Intermountain Catholic to see the full pastoral letter. I recommend you read it in full to understand the catechesis behind what he is asking of Catholics.

This Advent, I call on every Catholic in the diocese of Salt Lake City to strive to enter into the spirit of the season. As we move forward, I strongly encourage our schools, parishes, and each individual household to celebrate the four weeks of Advent with rich prayer. We must practice and model what we preach in order to instill the rich traditions of our faith in young and old alike.

Here are some particular examples of what this will entail. Schools should not decorate for Christmas, but can decorate with simple wreaths and greenery. They might celebrate “Gaudete parties” before departing for Christmas break. I encourage each home to display and bless an Advent wreath where the family can gather for prayer either in the morning, at dinner, or some other practical time. I urge you to hold-off on displaying a decorated Christmas tree until the season of Christmas begins. You may want to incorporate a Jesse Tree in your family’s observance of the season. (More information on Jesse Trees can be found at: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=545 or http://www.loyolapress.com/our-jesse-tree-advent-activity.htm.) As the season draws to its close, I also invite you to discover the beauty of the O Antiphons, which are sung as part of evening prayer from December 17th to 23rd, and are most familiar to most of us in the hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Once Christmas comes, the season stretches far beyond the 25th of December. It continues until the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord on January 9, 2011. We should leave the decorations which are testimonies to our joy up for the entire season. There is plenty of time for us to celebrate our joy at Christ’s birth and we should make the most of it. You might consider having a Christmas gathering in the parish, or at home with family and friends during this time.

First, though, before we celebrate, comes a necessary time of waiting and of preparation. The season of Advent refocuses us and reminds us that Christ has changed the world. Darkness has covered this hemisphere, and the world itself is quiet. Because we know that Christ reigns over all of creation, we strain in the darkness to see the light of Christ, our coming King. May our observance of this season renew us and be an example of patience, silence, and joy to our hurried and anxious society.

Te Deum Laudamus! Home
The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!
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