November 30, 2012 – Advent and Other Thoughts

Well I just returned from the Lighted Christmas Parade.  As a proud St. Mary’s alum, I have no problem in saying that St. Mary’s had the most beautiful and impressive display.  In addition to the beautiful float, we also had a large lighted cake to signify the upcoming 150th anniversary of our school.  If you were not able to make it to the parade, I posted a short piece of video on our Facebook page and also hopefully will post the video on our website tomorrow of our magnificent entries.

The Christmas on the River festivities and the beginning of Advent tell us that our preparations for Christmas are in full swing, although the weather we had today would indicate otherwise.  Of course stores, decorators, and shoppers have been in intense Christmas mode for some time.  The easy route for a Catholic blogger to take here would be to rant about how commercialized and lengthy the Christmas season has become, and how we have lost our focus on what this season is truly about – the marking of the arrival of our Lord and Savior to earth.  Well I’m certainly not proud enough to avoid the easy route, but I also have a few other things to mention here, so I won’t take up the entire space with this.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this: It’s a sad piece of research that says 45 percent of society would rather skip Christmas because of the hassle.  The poll, which was conducted by CNBC, cited financial pressures as the main reason for this. Could these be lessened if people got out of the mindset that Christmas presents have to be the biggest and the best, especially for kids. Hassle might be alleviated too by pausing to ponder what we’re celebrating: the birth of Jesus in a stable and the promise that he will reign in our hearts as the Prince of Peace.  Points to ponder as we enter Advent.

Speaking of Advent, I promised last week that I would direct you to a few resources for you Advent preparation.  So here we go.  First, the USCCB has many reflections and materials available on their Advent page, including a daily calendar which has suggestions for each day of Advent.  Here’s the link to it:

Also, “Our Sunday Visitor” has posted an article titled “Keeping an Advent Attitude”, which tells us what we can do as families to keep our focus on our Advent preparation amidst the other hustle and bustle of the season.  Here is the link to this:

Finally, the website “American Catholic” always has some good resources posted during the special seasons of the Church Year, and this go around is no exception.  This year they have video reflections as well as other good resources.  Here is that link:

I’m sure there are other good resources out here to be found, but these are some of my favorites.

OK, I also wanted to touch on a couple of things that I had posted on our Facebook page this past week.  Pope Benedict XVI recently released a book titled “The Infancy Narratives – Jesus of Nazareth.”  In the book the Pope lends some historical perspective to the event of the birth of Jesus.  He tells us that  in the gospels there is “no reference” to the presence of animals in the stable – actually, it was probably a cave – where Jesus was born.  He also explain that the tradition of the ass and ox came from reflecting on parts of the Old and New Testaments. Christian iconography then adopted the motif early in Church history to show that even animals knew Jesus was the son of God.  Well, from these seemingly innocent statements of fact came these headlines: “Killjoy pope crushes Christmas nativity traditions,” “Pope sets out to debunk Christmas myths,” and even this jewel: “Pope bans Christmas”.  Some bloggers even wrote that the pope had spoken out against Christmas carols.  Benedict says the evangelist Luke wrote that at the moment of Jesus’ birth the angels “said” the well-known phrase “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased”.  But in the next line he explains that “Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song”, that “the angels’ song of praise has never gone silent”, and that it is “only natural that simple believers (even today) join in their caroling on the Holy Night”.  So do not fret my friends.  It is still OK to pit animals in your nativity scenes, and its OK to sing carols.  In fact, in St Peter’s Square, workmen have started building the Vatican’s larger than life nativity scene, which is expected to have animals and singing angels.  This just goes to show that any ordinary Joe with limited computer skills can write anything they want online, whether it is fact or not.  I’m glad I don’t associate with anyone like that… ummm …. anyway, moving on.

We heard plenty during the last campaign about Social Security and how it will be funded in the future.  Part of the problem of course is that there are more and more retirees to support and fewer workers to help pick up the tab.  This is especially evident with the religious people of the Catholic Church.  By the year 2022, it is projected that religious (priests, deacons, sisters, etc.) past the age of 70 will outnumber religious under the age of 70 by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1.  This shows us a couple of things.  It of course tells us that our church continues to be in dire need of men and women who are willing to heed the call of God to enter religious life.  It also tells us that at least in the near future, there will be many religious who will need help to supplement their retirement income.  When we have the opportunity to contribute to the cause of retirement for our religious, we need to be as generous as we can, just as they have been to us.

Thank you again for reading.  Have a blessed Advent and a great week ahead!  Peace.



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