Wednesday, November 12, 2008


A priest friend of mine and I were having coffee yesterday and both of us sighed when it was mentioned that advent is just a few miles down the road. “Give me lent!” he said, “I’ll take it over advent any day.”

I will admit my love affair with advent and Christmas ended many, many years ago. I attribute this coldness between me and this season to my upbringing. My family was involved with the arts and so preparations for Christmas usually began around August. On my Mom’s side there were all kinds of concerts and performances to help others get into the Christmas spirit and my Dad was secretary of his lodge and so there was the Christmas party to prepare for. At church and school and places of employment every organization had Christmas parties which of course actually took place in advent. This, the market place frenzy that began with K-tel commercials that also began in August, and the fact that I had several friends who are Christmas freaks, completely turned me off to wanting to celebrate Christmas. By the time it actually arrived I was sick of it and looked more forward to putting it away in boxes than I had looked forward to getting it out.

These liturgical seasons need healing. We need healing. Santa at the mall does not work for anyone out of training pants. It takes time and you have to work at it.

Every once in a while something will catch me that will remind me once again the magic that advent and Christmas can have. There is something that will pull me out of the work of the season and into feeling the electricity in a dark, crisp, starry night that the best Christmas-out-too-soon decorations cannot capture.

“God With Us; Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas” is a wonderful tool for the healing of the sense of this holy and fully mysterious season. Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe have compiled a series of writing by six noted names in the Christian world. For every day of the advent and Christmas season one of these authors make comment on the day’s readings. These are not dry, ethereal, or analytical lessons, but engaging reflections. They are short, thought provoking doses of soothing medicine and inspiration that is accessible to busy, Christmas frantic persons. Each day is accompanied by a short prayer and gorgeous artwork. For each major feast day there is an explanation of the origin and nature of the feast.

When finished with my copy I had intended to pass the book along to one of my sisters but instead it will remain on my shelf as an excellent prayer and reflection resource. I am just sorry that I had to read it in one fell swoop for this review. But I do plan on engaging it again as we enter advent this year. Get this book especially if you have any reservations about the upcoming season or if you think that your focus might be off just a tad and share it with those who you think might be in the same boat. As stated in the preface, the healing of the season will not happen in one day, but something remarkable might happen when celebrating an entire season well.

For more information on this title from Paraclete Press please look here.


Anonymous said...

We're so ready for this book (or for the e-subcription for daily reflections offered just below the book)! It sounds wonderful. I have come to dread having to observe the secular Christmas season. I ruled out our attendance at Christmas parties (husband can go alone, if he wishes), and Christmas Eve sharings in friends' homes (tho' that is hardly as Christ-ignoring, soul-compromising, gluttony-promising, life-threateningly inebriating).

Even at its magical (secular) best, our hearts full to bursting with goodwill and charity, donating-gifting here there and everywhere, it only reminds us of what it all could be, year-round --for all-- and it's a painful realization, isn't it? Not to even mention forgetting Whose birthday it is.

So far, I've not been able to change much else besides being a party humbug, but I tacked up a note on the 'fridge yesterday saying we'll just pick a name to buy one (under $20) present for. We have two fairly/suddenly motherless homeless guys with us this year, as well as two daughters, all of whose economics are already suffering (tho' I also wanted the guys to know they are thought part of our family, and not only on dismal hot-dog nights).

I may just break down and buy the book, and then pass it around to Ohio daughter and others, because all I can look forward to each Advent that is consistent, is the Monday night lay-offered prayer services.

And very practically speaking, in case it helps, I know many folks here who, only after Christmas and up until the Epiphany, write their Christmas cards.

uncle jim said...

just this past week i asked my wiofe if she'd mind 'passing' on christmas [secular] this year all together.

"What will our kids and grand-kids think?" she queried.

I just said they'd get over it ... "How about celebrating it in Aruba?"

she seem closed minded on it - so I guess we'll be doing our to stimulate the economy.

AND we'll celebrate the nativity of the Lord.