Sunday, November 23, 2008

Will You Join Me?

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in wishing your friends and accaintences "Happy New Year" this weekend? It is, afterall, OUR New Year! Sunday, November 23rd was the "Last Sunday After Pentecost" (or the Last Sunday in Ordinal Time, if you prefer) thus ending the liturgical year. This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent! ChristMass is right around the corner! People may look at you a little funny to begin with, but you could use this as an ice-breaker in conversation to allow you to discuss your faith a little.

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in answering the "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" wish with, "and a Blessed Advent to you!" ?? The season of the ChristMass begins with Midnight Mass, the First Mass of ChristMass, and lasts through Epiphany (some could argue it lasts through the Ordinal Time After Epiphany too). The point is - from the First Sunday of Advent up to the First Mass of ChristMass - it is NOT the "ChristMass" season! We are in a season of anticipation of the ChristMass. It is a time of preparation for the celebration of he coming of the Messiah to the world.

Fasting in Advent?

Well, for the Latin Church, this is not required - though it is part of the Eastern tradition. Eastern Christianity begins the "Advent Fast" on November 15th and lasts through December 24th. It is called the "Nativity Fast" (Advent itself is a term from Latin tradition). It is like a "little Lent" where one prepares their soul for the coming celebration of the Nativity, or again in the Latin/Western tradition - the ChristMass. The "Nativity Fast" in the East lasts for 40 days, whereas Advent in the West lasts 4 weeks.

Can Latin Rite Catholic fast during Advent? Certainly! Latin Rite Catholics can use this period of preparation and anticipation of the ChristMass to mortify their souls, making the ChristMass season all the more meaningful and joyous. There is no requirement in the Latin Church to fast during Advent, but the practice is almost never discouraged. (Fasting is never necessary on "Feast Days" - which all Sundays are as well as other high holy days).

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in spelling "Christmas" as "ChristMass?" It is, afterall, the Mass of Christ which we celebrate on December 25th! It may also serve as a reminder to Protestants that ChristMass is truly a Catholic Holy Day (holiday).

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in NOT being upset when someone says "Happy Holidays" and return the wish with "Happy Holy Days to you too!" ?? Sometimes we hear this time of year people getting upset with the removal of Christ from ChristMass - and using terms like "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings." Rather than getting upset - which can make us look and sound like an extremist - if we smile and wish them a "Happy Holy Days" back - it may get them to think a little bit about what the season truly is about.

I hope you'll try one or more of these suggestions this year and perhaps continue the practice as a tradition in your households and parishes. We can put a positive spin on the secularization of ChristMass - and perhaps get people to celebrate Christ with us in the true spirit of the true season. If you do try one or more of these suggestions - please try to come back to this blog/post and leave a comment or two about how it went.


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