Sunday, December 12, 2004

True Joy of the Season

It is so hard to explain to non-Catholic Christians why we Catholics don't "celebrate" Christmas until December 24th and 25th. They don't see the point in our waiting and hoping and patience and restraint.

But we, who wait and hope know. We know that preparing our hearts is a very important part of receiving the Joy that will come. Anticipation of that joy is part of why we wait. How can one build up in anticipation if one is playing Christmas carols since before Thanksgiving? How can one build up the feeling of hopefulness if one decorates the entire house immediately.

My biggest question is: how can one celebrate the Greatest Gift given to human kind in just one day? And yet, the day after Christmas most people are thinking about taking down decorations and getting on with life. We Catholics celebrate Christmas as a Season. We have 12 days, from Christmas mornings till the Baptism of the Lord two weeks later. Each day of that two weeks we celebrate the gift of Emmanuel (God with us) in prayer and song in our liturgies and private devotions.

I can't imagine celebrating any other way. Beginning today, the Third Sunday of advent we will begin to decorate our houses, and our prayers will increase in the heightened anticipation of what is to come. And then on Christmas Eve at Midnight (in my mind the only way to celebrate Christmas) we sing wonderful carols of Joy and we pray for Peace on Earth and Good Will to All, just as the angels did at the Birth of our Lord.

So, In two weeks we will celebrate. Until then, we prepare our hearts and minds to receive the Gift we know has come. Emmanuel, God With us!!!


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