The way our world does Christmas is utterly wrong. Deep down, we know we need to do it differently. The surprising thing is, we don’t have to create a new fangled approach. All we need to do is to approach Christmas as a Gentleman ought, through Advent!
The word Advent descends from the latin verb advenire, which means “to come”, and the related noun adventus, which means “arrival”. Of course the term makes sense, since it is the season in which we wait to celebrate the event by which Jesus was to come, his arrival to our world. Advent.
In our sacred tradition, Advent has come to be celebrated during the four Sundays prior to Christmas, and all the weekdays in between. The First Sunday of Advent actually begins our liturgical year. It’s where we start our annual liturgical journey. And we all know that the way we start something has a great deal to do with how we progress and later how we finish that something. Advent matters.
For a Gentleman, Advent should truly be a time of preparation and anticipation of the Feast and Celebration of Christmas and the Octave and Season of Christmas that follows. If we think about it, there are two things that we are challenged to approach Advent with: First, as a meditation and journey towards the Birth of Christ and the celebration of the Incarnation, and all that Jesus’ life on this earth accomplished for our world and for us. It is, in this way, a memorial of one of the most significant moments in history, and our grateful response in celebrating that event. But I think, perhaps more relevantly, Advent calls us to meditate, prepare, journey, and look with longing hope for the second Advent of Christ, that is, His Glorious Second Coming, the Final Judgment and our own hopeful advent or arrival to our eternal home! This anticipation and preparation of the Second Coming is really a huge part of the theme and spirit of the Advent season.
There’s a beauty and richness in this Advent journey that is truly incompatible with the current secular way Christmas is done in our own cultural setting. We’re all familiar with the fact that the moment the clock strikes the passing of halloween or thanksgiving, the Christmas displays are erected with a vengeance. Christmas ads bombard you day and night. Folks put up thousands of strings of lights. Christmas trees and all the decor come out of storage. Christmas music blares through the airwaves, along with those classic and not-so-classic Christmas television shows. People shop, people buy. People even take offense to the word “Christmas” and wish you “Happy Holidays.” Don’t even get me started on Santa. And it is a generally a happy, peaceful, and joyous time of year, but Jesus is easily swept to the back burner. The result of all this incessant pre-Christmas business is that by the time actual Christmas rolls around, we’ve been force-fed “Christmas” and are utterly bloated and sick of its flavor (not that it was a rich flavor to begin with). In other words, we’ve been partied out before the party has even started. Then, like clockwork, down come the displays, and secular Christmas is forgotten for another 11 months.
In stark contrast, the Advent Season invites us to journey with the prophecies and events leading up to the birth of our Savior, and in that way we remember a profound historical event. But it also calls us to prepare our own hearts and souls, and to annually devote four weeks of anticipation upon the second coming of Christ so that we don’t forget Christ’s final promise to come again, which directly involves our own ultimate destiny, and the state of our soul now. Advent is life-changing.
As men, especially fathers, we must take a different approach through Advent than the world gives us. The best way we can take this journey is to be lead by our Mother Church and her Sacred Liturgy. The Liturgy is what can draw us into Advent in a profound way. Unfortunately, as we have seen, the secular culture draws us far off the path the Church has always intended to take us on. The secular season of Christmas is extremely distracting, shallow, and misleading. The Church has a different plan for us. The Liturgy of Advent takes us on a journey of scripture, prayer, and hymns through emptiness, struggle, fasting, repentance, preparation, anticipation, rising joy and excitement, for over four weeks, until, when Christmas comes, we celebrate and rejoice! And our liturgical joy doesn’t stop on Boxing Day, oh no! This holy Feast of Saint Stephen (the first martyr) is just the first of an entire octave of stellar Feast Days, concluding with that of Mary, Mother of God on January 1st! Then, this celebration of the Christmas Season continues for another week or so, to include the Feast of the Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. Our Christmas spirit is rich and lasting!
The secular world has got it all wrong: When we’re supposed to be celebrating Advent, they’re doing Christmas, and when we’re supposed to be celebrating and entering deeper into the mystery of Christmas and the Incarnation, they’re going back to mundane daily life.
Here’s the fact: We won’t get Christmas right if we don’t get Advent right. So let us make sure we journey through the Advent Liturgy in a small way each day by checking in with CatholicGentlemansGuide.com on our social media platforms as we post the Entrance Antiphon of each Mass through Advent. And once you’ve taken a moment of prayer and reflection, be sure to retweet and share so that more people can do Advent right! Click here to subscribe to our Twitter feed, or here to like our Facebook page!
Have a wonderful and Manly Advent!
Note: You can also read the daily Mass readings or go to daily Mass and reflect on the readings AND all of the extra prayers of the Liturgy. AND you could also pray the different hours of the Liturgy of the Hours and get an incredible sense of the Advent themes within the prayers and readings specific to the Advent Season!
~ The Catholic Gentleman's Guide