Sunday, December 5, 2010

In Eager Anticipation

I've had to take a few weeks' break from blogging to focus on other goings-on in life: end-of-year wrap-ups at work, final exams, etc.  Thanks for continuing to visit and read; there will be much more to follow in the weeks and months ahead as the Christmas vacation period opens up free time to be able to catch up with friends and family and--of course--to slow down life enough to actually reflect and write on the the year that has passed, and what lies ahead for the future.

That leads me to something I've become more convicted of in the past few years: the importance of actually celebrating Advent.  As a kid, I remember feeling like Advent was just four weeks that we just needed to get through to make it to Christmas.  All I could think about was gifts, gifts, gifts, with only half a thought (if that) to the greatest gift of all whose arrival we were preparing to celebrate: Jesus Christ.

The culture today seems to have that same attitude.  After Thanksgiving (or even before Thanksgiving), Christmas decorations are up, and the only reason not to skip straight through to December 25 is because there is so much shopping to be done, Christmas cards to be sent, and other things that drive us into busyness.  It is so easy to forget that Christmas doesn't start until the vigil on December 24, and this year lasts for over two weeks, until the Baptism of the Lord on January 9, 2011.  By the time that rolls around, most will already be well into the "Christmas burnout" period.  It shouldn't be that way.

Catholic News Agency featured an interview with Bishop Wester of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, who has encouraged the Catholics in his diocese to take a step back and remain silent in eager expectation of the Lord's  arrival, rather than give into the hurriedness of a culture who only gives his coming a passing thought:

Catholics urged to hold off on Christmas celebrations until Dec. 24

Bishop Wester's comments and pastoral direction should resonate with every Catholic, and every Christian for that matter.  Let's step back and celebrate Christ's birth with his Church, not with the culture.

Have a blessed second week of Advent.


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