Sunday, December 23, 2007

Counter-programming at Christmas

This is a note from the bulletin of my church, St. Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens, for the first Sunday of Advent (December 2 this year). It's almost unbelievably counter-cultural. Just try to make this fit in with all the "Buy buy buy! Eat eat eat! Party party party!" messages you get from advertising during the month of December:

Advent begins today. Good to keep in mind that the Advent Season is not the Christmas Season. Advent is the time to spiritually prepare ourselves for Christmas by spending more time in prayer, practicing greater self-denial, and being more self-giving. It is hoped that everyone will take advantage of this penitential season to make a good confession and so better prepare himself to celebrate Christmas with a pure heart. The more efforts we make to prepare ourselves spiritually, the more we will be able to participate in the true joy of Christmas.

Some suggestions regarding prayer: come to Mass daily if at all possible, pray the Rosary daily, set up an advent wreath at home and pray around it as a family, read the infancy narratives from the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke as a family.

Some suggestions regarding self-denial: give up sweets, don't watch television or movies for entertainment, give up video games or music, do a little fasting, limit your spending on gifts.

Some suggestions regarding self-giving: give to the poor program, visit or write someone who is lonely, assist with the preparation of the food and gifts for the needy, children can do extra chores around the house.

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