Browsing "Liturgical Seasons"

A poem for the new year by Joyce Rupp

Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/jpkwitter

Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/jpkwitter

Dear Pope Francis,

I was all ready to write my own post on welcoming the new year, and then Joyce Rupp‘s newsletter landed in my email inbox. She says it so perfectly in this poem that I don’t think I could really add anything else.

New Year Prayer of Fastening     (Joyce Rupp)

Fasten my heart to you, Love of all Loves,

that all I am and do finds its motivation in you.

 

Fasten my mind to you, Inner Peace,

that whatever stirs within leads to tranquility.

 

Fasten my days to you, Divine Presence,

that in each happening I remain united with you.

 

Fasten my nights to you, Keeper of Dreams,

that I find restoration in your embracing care.

 

Fasten my joys to you, Delight of My Soul,

that these memories comfort me in times of trouble.

 

Fasten my sorrows to you, Compassionate One,

that I experience solace in your kindheartedness.

 

Fasten my concerns to you, Faithful Companion,

that I withdraw from my fears and anxieties.

 

Fasten my responsibilities to you, Source of Love,

that my daily efforts evolve from a generous spirit.

 

Fasten my relationships to you, Friend of My Heart,

that your profuse love nurtures and sustains them.

 

Fasten my anguished world to you, Holder of Hope,

that my dreams for peace may become a reality.

 

Fasten my prayer to you, Eternal Mystery,

that I might give myself ever more fully to you.

New Year Prayer of Fastening     (Joyce Rupp)

 

Fasten my heart to you, Love of all Loves,

that all I am and do finds its motivation in you.

 

Fasten my mind to you, Inner Peace,

that whatever stirs within leads to tranquility.

 

Fasten my days to you, Divine Presence,

that in each happening I remain united with you.

 

Fasten my nights to you, Keeper of Dreams,

that I find restoration in your embracing care.

 

Fasten my joys to you, Delight of My Soul,

that these memories comfort me in times of trouble.

 

Fasten my sorrows to you, Compassionate One,

that I experience solace in your kindheartedness.

 

Fasten my concerns to you, Faithful Companion,

that I withdraw from my fears and anxieties.

 

Fasten my responsibilities to you, Source of Love,

that my daily efforts evolve from a generous spirit.

 

Fasten my relationships to you, Friend of My Heart,

that your profuse love nurtures and sustains them.

 

Fasten my anguished world to you, Holder of Hope,

that my dreams for peace may become a reality.

 

Fasten my prayer to you, Eternal Mystery,

that I might give myself ever more fully to you.

 

All the best for a great new year.

Your friend,

Kevin

Merry Christmas from some silent monks

Dear Pope Francis,

Thought I’d wish you a Merry Christmas a day early as I won’t be near a computer tomorrow.

Given my search for silence, I thought you’d enjoy this rendition of Handel’s “Messiah” by some silent “monks”.

You can find it here if the above doesn’t play for you.

Merry Christmas.

Your friend,

Kevin

Dec 15, 2013 - Liturgical Seasons    2 Comments

What is an Advent calendar?

Advent calendar

Dear Pope Francis,

I wasn’t sure I’d write this post, mostly because I didn’t want it to be mistaken for yet another “war on Christmas” diatribe. Because those make me extremely uneasy. It’s not that I don’t want to be free to celebrate Christmas and wish others a Merry Christmas, without worrying about offending someone. But, those “war on Christmas” warnings have become yet another politicization of the Sacred, and I’m just not down with that.

But, something has been troubling me this Advent. At the same time as I’ve been focusing on what Advent means to me, I’ve been noticing a peculiar trend: the rise of the Advent-calendar-that’s-not-an-Advent-calendar.

When I was growing up, the waiting time of Advent was made just a little bit more bearable by an Advent calendar hanging on the wall. It usually consisted of one large picture of the Biblical Christmas scene — barn, manger, animals, Mary, Joseph, Wise Men. And, of course, the Baby Jesus in the center of things. Poked into the picture were a series of perforated doors, one for each day of Advent, that you’d open up on the appropriate day to reveal another aspect of the events leading up to Christ’s birth.

If you had siblings, like I did, your parents usually set a schedule for who could open the next door — to mitigate bickering, of course. Nerves were taut enough leading up to Christmas, you didn’t need an argument busting out over who got to reveal that day’s Advent blessing.

As I grew up, there were rumours that other kids had CHOCOLATE behind the doors of their Advent calendars. Some didn’t even have the Christmas story on theirs; there were Star Wars, Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo and all manner of kid-themed Advent calendars. I can’t speak from personal experience about those, though. We were strictly observant in our house when it came to the Advent calendar. I can’t say I wouldn’t have wanted a chocolate Advent calendar, or one focused around the holy adventures of Scooby Doo, but it simply wasn’t going to happen in our house.

In recent years, I haven’t given Advent calendars much thought. I don’t have kids, and so never had the need to seek one out. Then my nephew was born and my sister began her annual fall hunt for a religious Advent calendar. They’re harder to find these days than you might think. Her hunt almost always ends with a plea to my mom to go pick one up from our local Catholic book store and mail it to her. We seem to be the only source of religious Advent calendars.

At the same time, there have been a few Advent calendars showing up that have got me thinking about what we call an Advent calendar. Last year, I came across a distillery selling an Advent calendar where each day had its own small bottle of whiskey to find upon opening a door. This year, a brewery got in on the actthough, to be fair, they called theirs a “Snowcase,” but media articles referred to it as an Advent calendar.

I know several people who bought these, and other similar Advent calendars and are currently enjoying sipping their way through to Christmas. That’s fine with me. Whatever gets you through the dark and drearies.

However, to me, these are not Advent calendars and I kind of wish those selling them would find another name. I know Christmas has gone secular, and it’s not technically a religious holiday for everyone. I get that. No worries.

But, Advent, that’s different. Advent names a specific liturgical season that’s all about waiting for the light, for Christ, to come into the world. When you wait, you get quiet. When you wait, you focus on the lack of something that has yet to happen. When you wait, there’s a slight uneasiness, as if you’re not quite complete. Advent is about living in the tension of that uneasiness, that period of incomplete-ness, so when Jesus is born, you can know the wondrous feeling of being whole. This is Advent. It is a season of quiet yearning. Unlike Lent, you’re not usually abstaining from anything, but, still you’re not engaged in conspicuous consumption, either.

What Advent isn’t, at least not for me, is a time of cracking a cold one to make waiting for Christmas easier. If you are counting down to Christmas and presents and family gatherings and turkey, that’s one thing. I have no problem with a tipple each day pulled from behind a little door.

I’m just not so sure that’s an Advent calendar.

Your friend,

Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 1, 2013 - Liturgical Seasons    2 Comments

Appreciating Advent

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Dear Pope Francis,

I’ve got another confession to make.

I’ve never liked Advent.

Earth-shattering, right? I know. I’m comfortably into my adult years, was born and raised Catholic, and have tried to flow with the liturgical calendar as much as I can. But I still have never liked Advent.

Let’s face it, Advent is kind of the ugly duckling of the liturgical seasons. It’s much less solemn than Lent, and not as joyful as Easter or Pentecost. Advent barely distinguishes itself from Ordinary Time, and is dazzlingly overshadowed by Christmas.

Growing up, Advent was always something to be “gotten through.” Early fall was pretty packed, what with school starting, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. After those rushed by you’d be spat out, panting, into November. For us Canadians there was Remembrance Day. Americans had their Thanksgiving. And then, nothing but a yawning gap of several weeks of waiting. There might be a school Christmas concert or pageant to distract you, but most of December — and Advent — seemed to drag by at the slowest speed possible. It probably didn’t help that, according to my mom, I didn’t sleep between Halloween and Christmas. I don’t wait well.

Things haven’t really changed much since I’ve become an adult, though there might be different reasons why I haven’t been a fan of Advent. Even though I haven’t been in school for *cough* years, I’m still wired to get revved up come September. I start new projects, buckle down on old ones, and generally power through the early fall. Then November comes and the light starts to fade, it gets cold, and my go-getting attitude becomes more like “yeah, I’ll get to that, after a nap.” By December all my sap of inspiration has fled with the daylight, and I hunker down and dream of spring. Winter, particularly December through February, is a motivational desert for me. I have one speed, and it’s a slow, slow slog. This is probably the reason why I’ve never gone up much enthusiasm for Avent as an adult, either. Typically, I don’t have a whole lot of HOOORAHHH going spare this time of year.

That might change this year, though, and it’s thanks to my nephew.

I went to visit him last week. I had a couple of days off and thought I’d spend a bit of time with him. He’s six, and in grade one. I wanted to get a feel for what his days are like, so I volunteered to walk him to and from school for a few days. If you haven’t walked with a child lately, I recommend it. You’ll see the world in a way you haven’t for a long, long time. You learn all about what makes a good tree for a treehouse and what you find when you pry open a maple tree seed pod (fluff, water, and a flat green seed).

You can even learn about Advent.

We were on our way to school when my nephew remembered that the first Sunday of Advent was coming up. He was excited to get out the Advent wreath he made in Kindergarten last year (he goes to a Catholic school). I’d seen it last year. It’s an ingenious thing, with four paper tubes for candles stuffed with little tissue paper “flames” to be pulled out when it was their turn to be lit.

I’ve discovered that getting information out of little kids can be like putting a shredded document back together, but a few well-timed questions can sometimes give you insights into what’s going on in their little heads. I decided to see what my nephew’s understanding of Advent was.

“What is Advent?” I asked him.

“It’s about waiting,” he said.

“Waiting for what?” I asked.

(At this point he shot me a look like I was a three-year-old who couldn’t tie my shoes.)

“Waiting for Jesus,” he said.

“Ah,” I said. So what do you do during Advent?”

“You wait. You go to Church. That’s basically it,” he said. And then he began pointing out good treehouse trees again.

So, Advent. It’s time of waiting. Just waiting. Not a lot of hoopla required. Doesn’t even take a lot of energy. Just an intention and attitude of waiting.

I think I can manage that.

Your friend,

Kevin