Browsing Tag

Advent

Catholicism

We’re Still Figuring Out How to Do Advent And That’s OK

December 2, 2015

Advent.

A beautiful season the Catholic Church has given her people to direct their hearts and minds to the ultimate gift – the Incarnation of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It’s designed to be a season filled with prayer, repentance, and most of all a JOYFUL anticipation of Jesus’ arrival.

I think it can be a hard season to fully embrace as a Catholic today.

Why do I think that?

Well, as soon as Thanksgiving is done (who am I kidding, its when Halloween is done) Americans get busy. They start decorating, shopping, feasting, partying, music-ing, etc. to celebrate the Christmas season. The problem is that Christmas hasn’t happened yet. Liturgically, we are supposed to be waiting, reflecting, anticipating, and slowing down to make room in our hearts for the arrival of Christ.

The Christmas season is coming…and all those things should happen.

Just not yetright? Or can we do them while still waiting?

This is where my husband and I butted heads in a MAJOR way as newlyweds…and if I am being honest we revisit this topic Every. Single. Year.

You see, I want to just go along with what the culture is doing. I want to buy and decorate with ALL THE THINGS, listen to cheery Christmas jingles, host and attend parties, go caroling, bake until my oven breaks, and be so saturated with Christmas that by the time it arrives, I am really really really ready for it. Of course I want to do these things in addition to Advent devotions as well.

I blame it on my melancholic nature…I don’t shift gears quickly or easily so it’s actually hard for me to flip a switch and suddenly become excited about something. I need a buffer time to get excited before the thing actually happens. So in some ways, I NEED to begin the Christmas activities early so that I am actually ready when it arrives, right? 😉

But my better half wants to approach the season a bit differently and if I am being honest, he wants to approach it in a way that is liturgically correct. He wants to wait on Christmas music, decorations, baking, parties…you name it, he wants to wait on it until it’s officially the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Instead he wants to protect and preserve Christmas because it’s sacred and holy. He wants to give our family the gift of well prepared and quiet hearts to embrace Jesus at Christmas. He wants to make sure we haven’t Christmas-ed ourselves out before it even arrives and like the general culture, be done with celebrating December 26th when there are liturgically twelve full days to celebrate.

So this year we’re trying some new things. We’re two adults who respect one another’s opinions and are willing to experiment with how we ought to celebrate as a family. No one is a dictator around our neck of the woods and one person isn’t going to decide our traditions. We will mutually explore options and decide together.

What are we doing this year then?

We are decorating the house in pink and purple for Advent. We’ve got a Jesse Tree devotion we’re doing each evening around the Advent Wreath. We’re spending more time in prayer and plan to go to confession as a family. We’re keeping things simple so we can make room for Jesus at the “Inn” of our hearts. We will switch gears and bust out all the Christmas music, turn on the oven, and change the decorations…but we don’t know exactly when because we will be traveling on Christmas Eve and Day.

I want to clarify and say that I don’t believe this to be a moral issue. If you listen to Christmas music, you are not in sin. Please, nobody run off and take this post that far out of context. We’re just exploring this topic out-loud here on the blog as we process it ourselves. Yes, I continue to Google “How to be a good Catholic and be a?ble to listen to Christmas music” and Jonathan continues to interview families who’ve held off on celebrating.

We’re researching as a family and are trying to figure out what helps us enter more fully into Advent. That’s what this is about – being ready to receive our King into our hearts on Christmas. Whatever facilitates that best is what we will do in the Teixeira home.

I know this is a highly debated topic and I would love to hear from other perspectives in the comments. What have you chosen to do? What helps you get ready for Christmas? How do you embrace Advent?

Catholicism, Marriage

How We’re Celebrating Advent

December 3, 2013

Happy Advent!

I wanted to share some of our Advent traditions we are forming around the Teixeira home. I must tell you…it hasn’t been easy to choose these preparations. I tend to lean towards unleashing the Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving, fire up the oven for baking Christmas goodies, decorating the whole house in lights and ornaments. Jonathan tends to lean towards actually waiting to celebrate Christmas until it’s Christmas and using Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas…crazy, right?!?! 

You can imagine our clash in preferences…but by golly, I must admit Jonathan is right on this one. It’s Advent…a season of preparation. Good marketing in the last 30 years has eradicated the culture’s perception on the liturgical season of Advent. People jump right from Thanksgiving into the flurry of  parties, music, baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, eating, and celebrating so much so they are burnt out once Christmas actually arrives. Many people wake up the day after Christmas ready to clean everything up, assess the damage on their credit cards, exchange unwanted items, and move on with life. They’ve already been celebrating Christmas for weeks by this point. Liturgically, this is just when the party should be getting started. 

So Jonathan and I struck a deal and decided to deck the house out Advent-style. We would put as much emphasis on Advent as the culture is trying to get us to prematurely put on Christmas. Check out some of the decorations.

We have a tree! It's complete with lights AND purple (color of Advent!) ornaments.

We have a tree! It’s complete with lights and purple (one of two Advent colors) ornaments.

A homeade Advent Wreath sits on our kitchen table now. Nearby are books we are using to pray nightly devotions and prayers.

A homeade Advent Wreath sits on our kitchen table. Nearby are books we are using to pray with. We chose a daily devotion filled with Mother Theresa reflections and the Christian Prayer booklet for Night Prayer.

 

Jonathan gets to light the candle AKA play with fire for a few minutes. This may or may not be his favorite part of the tradition.

Jonathan gets to light the candle AKA play with fire for a few minutes. This may or may not be his favorite part.

These are lavendar scented candles from Walmart. The pink one is Sweet Pea scented. There are WAY more sophisticated Advent Wreaths out there I suggest you copy. I am not the crafty type so this is what we’ve got folks. If you wander over to this blog you will see more skill, crafts, and ideas for making Advent something to get the kiddos engaged in and excited about.

For the music…the only song I know that is Advent approved is “O Come O Come Emmanuel” so I created a playlist on Spotify with 135 versions sung by different artists. If you know of any more, I would really appreciate it. The best versions I have found so far:

1. O Come O Come Emmanuel by The Piano Guys – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7ySn-Swwc

2. O Come O Come Emmanuel by The Civil Wars – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiGyRAhpgQo

3. O Come O Come Emmanuel by Matt Maher – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlylvEkpJzw

4. O Come O Come Emmauel by Sufjan Stevens – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN3upltWtm0

5. O Come O Come Emmanuel by Shane and Shane – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIApy9rd7jw

Lastly, we dress in the corresponding candle color of the week to Sunday Mass, per Jonathan’s request (not an unusual request if you know my husband at all).  I couldn’t get a photo to turn out yesterday but I wore a purple scarf and Jonathan wore a purple shirt. We will continue this next week and the last week of Advent. On the third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday, we will show up wearing pink.

There you have it. What are your Advent traditions??? We’d love to hear them!