Commandments for Advent

3 Dec
AdventWe are so blessed here in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to have such a knowledgable and faithful man as Michael Podrebarac heading our liturgy office. He has been instrumental in compiling our liturgy guide for our archdiocesan “Faith Initiative,” and he also has a series of videos on the “Mystery of Faith” at the website of The Leaven. Michael also has a wonderful sense of humor, and I think it comes through in the following “Ten Commandments” from the liturgy guide for December, which in a light-hearted way most ably summarizes how we should approach the beautiful season of Advent.
“Ten Commandments on How to Properly Celebrate the Season Advent” by Michael Podrebarac
I. Advent is a proper season unto itself. Thou shalt have no other seasons before it. Advent is a season by which we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. It is also a season during which we recall his promise to return to us again in glory. The Christmas season is itself a beautiful time of celebration, and each day, as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “thy kingdom come” in anticipation of the Lord’s return. Keeping the season of Advent as a “period of devout and expectant delight” (The Roman Missal) means holding back from the fullness of Christmas festivity while at the same time sharing peace, joy, and love with others as we prepare for the festive days to come as well as share in the many activities associated with the “holiday” season.
II. Thou shalt not take the season of Advent in vain. Again, Advent is not Christmas, but a preparation for it, with a mind toward the Lord’s second coming. While our secular culture will call us to participate in a number of meaningful exchanges and customs, we should cultivate a sense of restraint as we anticipate the fullness of the Christmas season to come.
III. Remember to keep holy the season of Advent. At the heart of both Advent and the Christmas season is our faith in Jesus Christ. Customs and practices which might detract from this essential focus should be judged wisely. There is nothing essentially wrong with Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Yet when customs rooted more in the secular or material come into conflict with our sacred watch for the coming of the Lord, our faith lives must always take precedence.
IV. Honor God thy Father and thy Mother the Church. God loves us so much, that he sent his Son into the world to redeem us. We honor our heavenly Father when we keep holy the memory of his saving deeds. The Church, which has been described as both a teacher and a mother, calls us to celebrate the full cycle of her liturgical seasons, and to remain mindful of the true “reason for the season.” Jesus Christ is our teacher, Lord, brother, and Savior. Keeping the season of Advent with the Church keeps the season in focus and full of true meaning, and honors God.
V. Thou shall not kill the season of Advent. Anything which detracts from this solemn and joyful time of preparation not only threatens the true spirit of Advent, but takes life out of the true meaning of Christmas and its joyful celebration. Few things appear more deathly than Christmas trees discarded on curbs on the morning of December 26. We must let Advent nourish us to life, so that Christmas may be a season fully alive!
VI. Thou shalt not adulterate the season of Advent. Advent is not a season like Lent, which has a truly penitential character. There is no Advent fast in the western Church, and the season is described as having a certain “delight.” Selling out this holy season to the demands of a cynical commercialism or a stagnant secularism deprived both Advent and the Christmas season of its true dignity—a time of remembering how God raised our mortal flesh to a renewed height by taking on our human nature and filling it with abundant life.
VII. Thou shalt not steal the season of Advent. Let Advent be Advent: joyful, expectant, anticipating, inspiring, patient, foretelling, hopeful, balanced between the past, present and future. Jesus will come to us again at Christmas as Mary’s baby, lying in the mangers of our churches, our homes and especially our hearts. Don’t steal this time of expectation for the sake of the merely “now.” And don’t let anyone else steal it from us, either.
VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness against the season of Advent. Even as we strive, and even perhaps succeed, to keep holy the proper season of anticipation of Christ’s coming, we must avoid the tendency to make harsh judgments about others. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with buying folks presents, sending our cards and letters, baking treats and goodies, gathering for season fellowship, and even anticipating the fullness of Christmas with a few lights, trees and ornaments. The worst thing we could do in trying to restore Advent is to maintain a “holier than thou” attitude toward others. Jesus’ coming is ultimately about love, grace and truth. As we live the truth of this season, let us not forget to lovingly bring the grace of Advent to even the most cynical.
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Advent. We must be examples of balance when it comes to this festive time of the year. Again, Advent is not for us the winter equivalent of Lent! By keeping holy the season of Advent in all of its meaning and purpose, we help preserve the keeping of it by our brothers and sisters in the Church. Let them have their Advent season too! And, perhaps, our example will bring even our secular culture to a renewed appreciation of waiting, and watching, and hoping for something better than simply what the world can provide.
X. Thou shall not covet Christmas, either. Indeed, we should be patient during Advent, and wait for Christmas to come. But once Christmas arrives, we are called by the Church to take full advantage of its festivity and its celebration. By keeping Advent properly, perhaps we’ll be less exhausted once Christmas finally arrives, and we’ll have the mental strength (and physical energy) to keep merry the whole season of Christmas, from the celebration of the Lord’s Nativity on December 25, to the celebration of his Epiphany and Baptism during the twelve (and more) days following!

One Response to “Commandments for Advent”

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  1. Waiting | Cindy Holman - December 4, 2012

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