Friday, November 26, 2010

Hail and Blessed!

Not only is this Sunday the day we're holding our big Thanksgiving family dinner, it is also the start of the season of Advent.

You might not be familiar with the Advent Season. This year has been one more hard year, following more hard years than any of us want to remember. It seems, at least in these parts, that as soon as September started, people started to put up their scarecrows, pumpkins and even spider webs. Even before September ended, big pots of mums made their appearances as well as jack-o-lanterns, tree ghosts, and witches flying into walls. Hardly had the kids categorized their Halloween stash, than all Halloween and fall decorations were thoroughly removed and replaced with Christmas decorations. Christmas music has been on the radio, and avoided by me, for at least two weeks now.

Advent has been being pushed out the door for years now, but it seems like even Advent Calendars - items that have been passed down through generations even, are unheard of today.

I can understand it. The last few years have been just awful - no horrendous is a more apt definition. People have been losing their houses, their jobs, medical benefits, retirement and even all their savings for at least the last four years. Now we can add sabre rattling by North Korea and increased threats from Al Queda.

People don't want to think about waiting for Christmas. They don't want to think about giving things up. They feel like they've done enough giving up.

We don't need the somberness of purple candles. We need bright, colorful lights and cheery singing of carols that bring back memories of a happier time.

We don't have the emotional fortitude for advent.

But, may-be we should.

Advent is a simple season. If you don't want to have an advent wreath, Jesse Tree or advent calendar, you don't have to. You can have all three if you want them. They don't have to be plain, you can dress them up as much as you'd like!

The real beauty of Advent is the building of, and strengthening of character. In this world of noise and immediacy, when we want or think we need everything now, Advent encourages us to wait, to be still and reflect. Something BIG is going to happen. Something wonderful, more wonderful than has ever happened before and will never happen again. Something that deserves to be meditated on, anticipated, and truly celebrated for what it is.

The best part about Advent is the lack of pressure. There is nothing you must buy, no gifts to have to shop for, no traditional foods, no must go to meetings. However, you have to remember, that you will only get out of observing Advent, what you put into it.

Many people pray this prayer (It's called the Christmas Novena or St Andrew's Christmas Novena) starting on the first day of Advent until the Feast of Christmas :

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.

It is said 5 times at every meal. The repetition might seem strange to you, or even superstitious, but Our Lord has told us to be constantly praying. Remember the widow and the unjust Judge who ruled against her. But the widow kept petitioning the Judge, night and day, until he could stand it no longer, and reversed his verdict to rule in her favor.

Very wonderful favors have been given from the reciting of this prayer, and I really encourage you to make it part of your Advent this year.

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