Dec 032012

Thinking about the season of Advent I was reflecting on some cool aspects of it.

First off so far liturgists have not managed to ruin it. All of the Lenten shenanigans such as emptying Holy Water fonts or filling them with sand are not really found in Advent. Not that I doubt some liturgist somewhere has tried. Plus the quality of the hymns usually goes up in Advent to some degree.

The season of Advent doesn’t really get much attention in society as it seems Christmastide starts on Black Friday and ends on December 25th. But there are advantages to Advent flying under the radar so to speak. For one there are no Advent equivalents like “Grandma was run over by the preparation for the Incarnation.” For the most part Advent has not been commercialized, just pretty much totally ignored. Although Advent Calendars have become commercialized with everything from Legos to promotions for mobile applications. People are now more likely to know what an Advent Calendar is, just not what Advent is. Just try replying “Have a Blessed Advent” when out shopping and see the blank stares like you just tried to sing a Klingon opera.

Unfortunately so many people are missing out on all the great Advent hymns. The chances of hearing an actual Advent hymn on the radio or at the Mall is pretty much zero with the possible exception of “Emmanuel” Speaking of “Emmanuel” I realize I am a total liturgical curmudgeon in that I am annoyed both that a choir doesn’t seem to know any other Advent hymns and upset when they don’t sing it. At the end of Mass yesterday I was tempted to shout encore and raise an Advent candle to the air to get the choir to come back out and to get around to singing it.

Thankfully I have been building up my own Advent music collection. I can hardly believe that not that long ago I was listening to “System of a Down” when putting up a Christmas tree and now am singing along to Advent hymns instead. In fact if you have a favorite Advent album or hymn I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Eye of the Tiber does it again with this story.

New York, NY––Local Catholic and Liturgical stickler Gerry Brownstone was offended earlier today when leaving his local Food-Mart, after the greeter wished him a “Merry Christmas.” “Who does that guy think he is, saying that to me?” Brownstone said. “Advent has barely begun. The Liturgical Calendar has a Christmas season, you ignoramus, and it begins after the Feast of the Nativity, not a month before.” A visibly irritated Brownstone continued, “I don’t wish you a Blessed Pentecost the week before the Ascension, do I? Grow up.” When asked what he preferred as an Advent salutation, Brownstone answered: “I don’t know. Maybe something about the Season of Advent, like ‘Advent’s Greetings,’ or something about the holiness of the days that are coming, like ‘Happy Holidays.’ Either of those would be liturgically more acceptable.” He concluded his tirade, “It’s like there’s a War on Advent out there.”

Several years ago I theorized that it was Militant Adventists who were stealing the Baby Jesus’ out of Nativity scenes for daring to put him in the crib before Christmas.

I really admire those who wait for Christmas Eve to put up a Christmas Tree. Although I am too weak to wait. I put one up on the first Sunday of Advent. I’ll just call it an Advent tree – yeah that’s the ticket – that mysteriously has an ontological change to a Christmas tree at some point. While I am holding off on listening to Christmas Carols I just have to have that tree up. But I do keep it up to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I have heard some will put a tree up early, but not fully decorate it until just before Christmas. I also like that idea, but alas my tree is fully decorated.

So what do you do to make Advent not just some commercial lead up?

  10 Responses to “Reflecting on Advent”

  1. Favorite Advent hymn: Savior of the Nations, Come. I always loved it, and all the more so when I was given a Latin assignment consisting of some hymns by St. Ambrose, and figured out a few lines in that I already knew that one! Made the assignment much easier, and also gave me a new appreciation for the hymn.

  2. Conditor Alme Siderum
    People Look East! The Time is Near

  3. I randomly shout out “Come Lord Jesus,” and wait for the “Come quickly!” This is great esp. in the midst of kid squabbles – not that my saintly children ever squabble 😉 We do generally get the tree in the first couple of weeks of Advent and put it up – but it waits for decorations until Christmas Eve (or the eve before.)

  4. Tree goes up about a week before Christmas and stays through Epiphany or the end of the Octave of Epiphany if the tree is holding up.

    Must concur with Rjak … I love “Savior of the Nations Come.” Pity seldom get through all the verses since I like to hold a long bow during the extended Trinitarian invocation.

  5. Hymns are not part of the Mass. They should be a secondary concern in any time of the year, as the Mass propers from the Gradual should be sung. Hymns are an extra.

    Advent really is not used as well as it could be. Some things to liven it up a bit:

    –every parish should use rose vestments on Gaudete Sunday

    –the use of Vespers should increase in Advent. It’s dark out earlier, so it’s easier. This is especially true for the “O Antiphon” period and first vespers of Sunday to light the Advent wreath

    –parishes should increase the availability of Confession during this time. ideally, evening masses should be increased to allow people to step it up a notch

    –even though Advent is not technically a penitential season, the faithful should be reminded more strongly about their general obligation to abstain from fleshmeat on all Fridays of the year

    –“lessons and carols” on Christmas Eve should be replaced by actual liturgy: Matins should precede Midnight Mass, and Lauds follow it

    –make use of the Advent saints. We have some great ones, including Barbara, Nicholas, Ambrose, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and (traditionally) Doubting Thomas. These can be fun little breaks from the general Advent theme

    –the faithful should rededicate themselves to the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary and attending Mass of the BVM on Saturday. This is really a third Marian month if you think about it (on top of May and October).

  6. Ryan,

    Why thank y0u for your unnecessary and unsolicited instruction regarding the place of hymns in the Liturgy. Speaking for myself, I only stated that I liked the hymn “Saviour of the Nations Come:” no where did I state or imply anything regarding whether hymns are or should be a “part” of Holy Mass. Of course, even at a low mass in the Extraordinary Form hymns may be sung before and after mass itself, properly speaking, begins.

  7. Prior to our marriage 25 years ago, my future spouse and I, in the process of negotiating all the really important stuff, unanimously agreed that we’d celebrate Christmas during Christmas – ah, wild, impetuous youth!

    So, for 25 years – this is year 26 – we’ve put up a Christmas tree a day or two before Christmas, filled stockings for each other and the kids for Christmas morning, and – here’s a big side benefit – shopped for presents from after Christmas until Epiphany, where we exchange gifts in a kingly manner. I take a few days off around the 6th, and we party down! WooHoo!

    Happy, holy and blessed Advent to one and all!

  8. Mr. Miller,

    Would you mind sharing your list?


    p.s. nice captcha

  9. No malls for me, mister! Nope. It’s sorta gross. And my small children cannot figure out the paradox to what they learned at children’s liturgy on Sunday. Much rather keep the kidlets at home and have them colour their Seeds advent wreath. Oh, and no tree, no carols (only advent hymns) and definitely no Christmas movies! I do reserve those for the week before the day.

    Thanks for the reminder here!

  10. @ Joseph: I admire what you’ve done, taken the wind out of all the hustle and bustle PRIOR to Christmas, well done. AND you probably save some $$ with “after” Christmas sales…..

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