Catholic liturgies avoid Christmas decorations, Christmas carols in Advent


WASHINGTON, DC – During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Catholic churches stand out for what they are missing.

Unlike stores, shopping centers, public buildings, and homes that begin to prepare for Christmas at least on Thanksgiving, churches seem almost austere except for Advent wreaths and perhaps a bit of greenery or white lights .

"The possibility of being a bit out of sync or a little countercultural is not a bad thing," said Paulista father Larry Rice, director of the Catholic Center of the University. at the University of Texas at Austin.

For the same reason, you will not completely avoid listening to Christmas music until December 24th. The key is to experience that "being out of sync in a way that is useful and teaches us something about our faith," he said Catholic News Service .

Others find the frantic rhythm of the Christmas season relaxing to go to a church without decorating and sing more somber hymns like "Oh, come, oh come, Emmanuel". But that should not be the only attraction, said Jesuit Father Bruce Morrill, who is Edward A. Malloy Professor of Catholic Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee.

He said that the dissonance between how the church and society in general celebrate Christmas is that the celebration of the church begins, does not end, on December 25. The shopping season and the Christian calendar of the church overlap, but does not connect, he added.

And although the Catholic churches – at least in liturgies – avoid Christmas carols during Advent and keep their decorations to a minimum, Morrill said he is not willing to do so. advise Catholic families do the same.

"It's hard to tell people what to do with their rituals and symbols," he said, adding, "that horse is out of the barn."

Remember a family on the street in Maine where he grew up, who did not put his Christmas decorations until December 24 and did not take them to Candlemas, which commemorates the presentation of Jesus in the temple, which is the 40th day of the Christmas season. [19659002] You are pretty sure that the children or grandchildren of the family do not maintain that tradition.

Rice also does not give families much advice on when to decorate Christmas, but when pressed, he said he had advised families to do it in stages, such as putting the tree and simple decorations and then adding them on Christmas Eve. .

It's a happy moment, he said, in which Catholics should take advantage.

Celebrating Advent is a little complicated in university ministry, he noted, if the church's reflective and silent period occurs at the same time as students despair over exams, papers, and Christmas preparations.

This year, one day before the beginning of Advent, he said the students planned to gather to decorate the Catholic center with purple altar cloths, pine garlands and some white lights.

As Morrill sees it, decorating churches with white lights or vegetation almost crosses the secular and religious Christmas celebrations and that's fine with him. It is better to use blue instead of purple for Advent wreaths or liturgical vestments, which it says some parishes did in the 1980s, until church leaders fell on it.

Advent liturgical notes published online by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. UU points out that the liturgical color for Advent is purple, just like Lent, since both are seasons that prepare us for great feasts . [19659002] It says that Advent "includes an element of penance in the sense of preparing, quieting and disciplining our hearts for the full joy of Christmas." This penitential dimension is expressed through the color purple, but also through the way moderate to decorate the church and the altar ".

He also notes that floral decorations should be "marked by moderation" as should the use of the organ and other musical instruments during the Advent Mbades.

The way the church celebrates Advent is nothing new. Timothy Brunk, badociate professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, said it began in the fourth century in Europe but never had the history or meaning of Easter for the church.

But although Advent does not have penance the withdrawal of Lent, where people give up something for 40 days or do something extra, that does not mean that the season is lost without opportunities for spiritual growth.

Rice said it is important for Catholics to participate in the spiritual preparation for Christmas, even in the midst of all other preparations.

His advice: when you write a Christmas card, say a prayer for that person; While you are shopping, try to do it in a slow and thoughtful way, without running frantically, and let someone take the parking space you were looking at.

Those actions, he said, are modern works of mercy on a simple and immediate level.

Nor do they require batteries or store coupons.

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