December 6, 2010: Advent is a Time of Preparing

by Mary Galvano

During Advent, one of the most frequent questions asked by parishioners after Mass is, “Why doesn’t’ the choir sing more Christmas songs during the month of December?” “But it is not Christmas”, I try to explain, “it is Advent.” This is a hard one to explain especially when some radio stations start playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving and stop the day after Christmas day; and then everyone caught up in the backward ways of the Christmas season say Christmas is over. Commercialism doesn’t help with focusing on the main reason for Christmas. Because of this we hear Christmas music played and see decorations up way before Christmas begins.

The Church’s ways aren’t the way of the worlds, thank goodness. The truth is, Christmas has not yet begun. It starts on Christmas day, December 25th, and it lasts for twelve days. This period is also known as Christmastide. We celebrate the twelve days of gift giving and festivities leading up to Feast of Epiphany. For us, December 25th is just the beginning of our celebration of Christmas, not the end. Wouldn’t it be exciting if the rest of the country caught on to this and we celebrated the joys of Christmas for twelve days? We still can. The Church continues to celebrate Christmas and play Christmas music long after Christmas day while the rest of the world has stopped.

In some parts of Europe, where they still celebrate the traditional Christmas I speak of, they don’t put up any decorations or even a Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. One of my dear friends, who happens to be a Polish priest, used to get so upset to see the commercialism of Christmas during the Advent season. He explained to me how important it was in his country to focus on Advent and then Christmas.

During our time of Advent we are waiting for the coming of Jesus. We are preparing the way of the Lord! This preparing for Christmas also reminds us of how we need to prepare and be ready for the return of Christ again!

Advent, in a way, is similar to Lent. This is a time to examine our lives and clean up any part of us that needs to be cleaned up. If you notice there is usually a special penance service during the season of Advent just like there is one during the time of Lent. Also, notice we have no “Gloria” during Mass similar to Lent, and then on Christmas day as it is on Easter, the “Gloria” is once again put back into the Mass.

We are to be still and quiet during this time. The next time while at Mass pay attention to the music of Advent and the stories the hymns are telling. They are exciting! They are getting us ready to welcome our King. Don’t miss it for the world. This Advent, try to spend more time being quiet, reflecting on Christ’s coming. Jesus will be here soon. Are you ready?

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