Thursday, December 27, 2007

Are We There Yet? Advent is Year-Round

So, Advent and Christmas Day have come and gone, and we're left with the somewhat lackluster 12 days of the liturgical season of Christmas. (C'mon - you know it's true - church leaders are just as tired as everyone else, if not moreso, and they're probably ready to stuff away the Christmas bells too. If the 3 Wise Men arrive on January 6th, it's to half-eaten leftovers and cold it were.)

I didn't write any reflections this Advent, or spend too much (read: any) time in prayer and meditation, and by the time it got to Christmas, I was so jaded (I work in retail) that even the amazing cathedral choir just didn't do all that much for me.

(But then, it's not about me, is it?)

Advent did make me realize something, though. Advent is the key to Christmas. I didn't really have an Advent, because I was so bombarded with finals and relationships, and Consumerist Christmas and work and illness and a million other things that I neglected what the Orthodox have rightly called the "little Lent."

If only we could immerse ourselves in the dark midnight of Advent, plunging back into the ancient hills of Palestine, where a still, small something is stirring amidst the desert sands...

Maybe the world has to have itself an Advent before the return of Christ in glory.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Jerusalem, Jerusalem...

This is one of my new favorite songs.


We celebrate the wars we've won
The blood of history's ancient sons
We followed judah maccabee
We fought against iniquity
We saved ourselves with help from One
Who loves His children, everyone
Everyone, everyone
Everyone, everyone

So now Jerusalem, you know that it's not right
After all you've been through, you should know better than
To become the wicked ones almighty God once saved you from

The lessons we should learn from all
The fighting in the days of old
When providence was still divine
The sanctuary purified
Let lightning circle all you hold
And don't uproot the olive grove

So now Jerusalem, you know that it's not right
After all you've been through, you should know better than
To become the wicked ones almighty God once saved you from

So now Jerusalem, you know that it's not right
After all you've been through, you should know better than
To become the wicked ones almighty God once saved you from...

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If Only...

"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere committing evil deeds, an it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" --Alexander Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rescuing Christmas from the "Holiday Season"

I never thought I'd say this, but...Bill O'Reilly was right.

There really is a War on Christmas.

The Holy celebration of Christ's Mass has become - pardonner mon fran├žais - a clusterf*ck of consumerism, globalism, and materialism. If we are complicit in this treachery, we allow ourselves to be transformed into - not little Christs - but little Grinches!

How many people worldwide suffer each year because of Corporate Christmas? How painfully does our only planet shudder and groan as factories belch out countless cheap plastic toys? Is it worth it? Really?

Despite all this, I just can't be depressed around Christmas. I love the traditions, I love the carols, I love the colorfulness and - sorry for being corny - magic of it all.

A friend recently said to me, "You know people feel more holy around Christmas. All those ceramic mangers and carols and Hallmark Christmas movies. Blech!" Blech indeed. There is something about Christmas that is so full of hope and light that even the state of our world seems like it can be made right.

So, here's what you can do:

*Buy only one present for your friends and family. Make it special.

*Or, make one yourself!

*Are you dreaming of a green Christmas?


*Check out Advent Conspiracy. Spend less. Worship more. Love all.

*Christ is the Light of the world. Light a candle and say a prayer for peace.

*Make a Christmas card. Leave it for a stranger to find.

*Write or read Advent reflections.

*It's Christmas. Have you called your mother lately? Pray the rosary. Then tell a mother how much she means to you.

*Recycle decorations year to year. Make decorations!

*Learn the story behind the real Saint Nicholas. See the movie.

*Give. Give, give, give and don't stop giving! Your time, your talents - they were all given to you. Give them back to Christ in the world.

To give is to be liberated from having.

*Add to this list!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lighting Candles & Waiting




Light a candle for peace.