Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent

This marks the beginning of the Church's Liturgical year. Advent is the time of anticipation leading up to Christmas. Through four Sundays we prepare ourselves for the joy of Christ's birth but we also look forward to his triumphal return at the end of time. Advent is a time of waiting. Though not as stark as Lent (which precedes Easter), Advent is meant to be a time of pious reflection. It is not the joyous celebration, as in the joy that defines the Christmas season, but it prepares us for that joy.

Ironically, the popular cultural has adopted the pre-Christmas time as the actual celebration of Christmas - decorations go up, parties are held, gifts exchanged, and the climax is reached on December 25. For most of America, Advent has been erased from our Christian calendar. Most of my neighbors put up their decorations during Advent and then promptly remove them on December 26. Not only does this rob us of the benefit of an Advent spent in spiritual growth, but it also cheapens Christmas. The birth of our Savior becomes nothing more than a commercial orgy that ends when the last gift is unwrapped.

It is often said that we should "keep Christ in Christmas." Perhaps we should also keep Christmas out of Advent.

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