Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Looking toward Advent

As I start to work out my Advent Plans I know I have so many resources to look at and learn form one of these is this book~


I have read this wonderful book  so many times and each year get something new form it.
Here it is in it's online form but for a little taste so to speak here is the start of it for you  to enjoy


Christmas is a liturgical season of great joy. It lasts forty 
days, from December 25 to February 2, during which the birth of 
Jesus Christ, our Savior, is celebrated as one continuous 
festival. The finale comes with His presentation in the temple. A 
season most dear to Christian hearts, Christmas is as distinct in 
the liturgy as Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. Four weeks of 
Advent are scarcely enough to "prepare the way of the Lord" for 
His coming to us as King. However, if we have used that season as 
a preparation, we are ready now to receive the Redeemer who will 
deliver us from sin in answer to our requests. Christ's coming 
must be, not a lovely idyll or a pastoral scene, but a reality 
accomplished in our lives and our children's. Forty days of 
rejoicing are not too long a celebration for so great an event.

The early Church selected December 25, the date of the winter 
solstice when God the Creator gives the sun an increase of 
natural light in northern hemispheres, as the day on which to 
celebrate the birth of the Sun of Justice, Light of the world. 
Radiating from the Divine Child are a galaxy of wonderful saints 
whose lives afford a continuing interest in celebrating the feast 
of His birth.

Micheas, who lived in the days of Isaias, prophesied the 
birthplace of the Messiah: "Thou, Bethlehem, art a little one 
among the thousands in Judah; out of thee shall He come forth 
unto me that is to be the Ruler of Israel; and His going forth is 
from the beginning, from the days of eternity." The name 
Bethlehem signifies House of Bread. To it at Christmas comes the 
Savior, who is the Bread of Life. By our participation in this 
mystery the divine transformation takes place whereby He "re-
shapes the body of our lowliness after the body of His splendor."

Our forebears gave the name Christmas to the feast of our Lord's 
birth because they kept the "Christ Mass" as the heart of their 
celebrations. Following closely the liturgy of the Church, they 
centered their customs and wrote their hymns and carols on her 
practices of the season, adoration, love, joy, and gratitude. 
Those practices also increased their admiration for His Virgin 
Mother Mary who gave Almighty God His human form. He had created 
heaven and earth by His Word, but His becoming Man depended on a 
creature's FIAT, "Be it done unto me according to Thy Word." Mary 
consented. Our forebears honored her in their great masterpieces 
because she is God's Mother. For the same reason the world in our 
day honors her as Queen of Heaven.


It is to our Lady that Christian families must look for help to 
reestablish Christmas as a season of festivities marking Christ's 
birth. Either we live the liturgical year with its varying 
seasons of joy and sorrow, work and rest, or we follow the 
pattern of the world. Nor is it an easy task to break with the 
world and the powerful influence of advertising. Their season of 
Christmas begins around Thanksgiving Day when stores display 
wares for holiday gift-giving. It lasts until December 24.

Families, who would not dream of eating their Thanksgiving turkey 
a week in advance or of having their 4th of July picnic in June, 
give no thought to the fact that, when they awake on December 25, 
there is not a shred of Christmas left. Every present has been 
opened. Every carol has been sung. The tree has dried out. 
Christmas is apt to be a dull day given to over-eating. There was 
no fast in Advent, so it follows that there can be no feast.

It is difficult to keep one's home dark in Advent penance; to 
keep a tree fresh outside the door; to refrain from singing 
carols until Christmas eve. Our children see their friends' trees 
shimmering with ornaments a week before Christmas. Their houses 
are bedecked with lights. Television and radio blare carols. Not 
only is it difficult to keep from celebrating beforehand, it is 
even more difficult to begin forty days of the Christmas season 
when all around people are concluding their festivities. How then 
do families return to the spirit of the Church and begin the 
season of joy and grace on Christmas eve?

The simplest way is by keeping Advent. Children love to 
anticipate. When there are empty mangers to fill with straws of 
small sacrifices, when the Mary-Candle is a daily reminder on the 
dinner table, when Advent hymns are sung in the candlelight of a 
graceful Advent wreath, children are not anxious to celebrate 
Christmas before time. That would offend their sense of honor. 
Older children who make Nativity sets, cut Old Testament symbols 
to decorate a Jesse tree, or prepare costumes for a Christmas 
play will find Advent all too short a time to prepare for the 
coming of Christ the King.[1]

Celebrating Christmas in its season can be accomplished more 
easily when several families try it together. Frequently there 
are families who, if only for sentimental reasons, would like to 
keep the joy and surprise of Christmas for the eve. Christians of 
the Eastern rite wait until their particular feast of Christmas 
comes in January. We should likewise begin ours on its proper 
day. We also need time for our festivities. The Church gives us a 
period of forty days for rejoicing.

As a child in the suburbs of Boston, my Christmas eve centered 
around the parish house. On the half-hour groups of children with 
trumpet accompaniment caroled around the giant tree on the lawn 
or, when snow was too deep, sang on the rambling veranda. From 
there they went to sing in the park, at the convent, and at homes 
of aged parishioners. Back to the parish house, its hearths 
aglow, children trooped to enjoy warm doughnuts and cider. Early 
in the evening high school students caroled on the same circuit. 
Now the parish house was bright with candles and firelight. The 
night was blue and so frosty cold that the trumpets cut the air. 
Their "Noel Noel" traveled far and clear. In reply myriads of 
vigil lights, flickering against lace curtains in every house, 
returned a bright "Merry Christmas." Carolers returned to the 
parish house for refreshments.

Half-hourly the charming custom of caroling went on. By nine 
o'clock the church choir arrived. When the last trolley car had 
left the carbarns an hour later, a hush fell upon the city making 
peace on earth a reality. By ten-thirty parents arrived to join 
the singing and to free the choir for rehearsals.

I remember the breathtaking beauty of the upper church. Its 
marble altar with golden decorations was resplendent with light. 
The crib gave new joy each succeeding year. With the singing of 
Midnight Mass our season of rejoicing began.

Afterwards families walked home together in the sharp cold 
nights, parents a bit ahead, boys and girls lagging behind. 
Everywhere vigil lights flickered in homes of the Irish emigrants 
who began the custom in penal days when priests were being 
hunted. Telling of the custom in "The Christmas Book,"[2] Father 
Francis X. Weiser, S.J., writes: "The people had no churches. 
Priests hid in forests and caves and secretly visited the farms 
and homes to say Mass there during the night. When Christmas came 
the faithful placed burning candles in the windows so that any 
priest who happened to be in the vicinity would be guided to 
their home through the dark night. Silently he entered and was 
received by the devout with fervent prayers of gratitude that 
their home was to become a church during the Holy Night. To 
justify this practice in the eyes of the English soldiers, the 
Irish people used to explain: 'We burn the candles that Jesus and 
Mary looking for a place to stay will find their way to our 
home.' The English authorities finding this superstition harmless 
did not bother to suppress it."

A Gaelic name for Christmas eve is "Oidhche na ceapairi"--Night 
of Cakes. I can still see the cakes through candlelight in 
kitchens of my childhood. A spanking white cloth on the table set 
off the two-foot candle bound in evergreens and rising from a 
bowl of holly to symbolize the Light of the world arising from 
the Root of Jesse. On the polished black stove were round loaves 
of sweet buttery bread flecked with currants and candied peel 
called Irish Christmas "cake." That bread spelled Christmas for 

After a feast day breakfast early in the morning, our tree was 
stealthily brought indoors and set into its waiting stand. Balls 
were hung, tinsel, popcorn, and cranberries festooned to its 
spreading branches. Then it was time for Mass at dawn.

Blessings to you and your homes, 

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