Don’t crowd out Advent

It happened Tuesday morning. My wife got the pen out and we started marking all over our family calendar for December. Dates for work Christmas parties, from my employer and hers, were blocked off. Holiday plays and concerts we hope to attend took a few more dates, as did family gatherings, evenings to entertain friends, and some parish functions. Throw in a date reserved for my routine colonoscopy just for fun and our December calendar’s already a crowded mess.

Maybe yours is too.

This is Advent?

The spiritual directors interviewed by Jennifer Willems for a story on Advent on page 1 of this issue of The Catholic Post invite us to welcome the new church year by making some resolutions that lead us to deeper conversion to Christ. I resolve to go home tonight and mark up my December calendar further with time reserved for quiet reflection, reading, extra Masses, penance services, or charity.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles used the troubled economic times we are facing to plea for simpler, more meaningful Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. In a brief pastoral letter titled “Worrisome Times” he wrote that the best Thanksgiving is “an enjoyable, simple meal with family and friends” and it will be even more meaningful “if we make some sacrifices and give food to our local parishes or area food pantries.”

The increased need expressed in our story on page 3 and the column at left on this page should reinforce that appeal.

How about Christmas?

Instead of a Christmas celebration that goes “way beyond reason in expenditures,” Cardinal Mahony proposed a Christmas that can be “a vivid lesson in giving” for children and a reminder of the true “importance of the feast: the birth of Jesus Christ.”

“A few simple gifts such as our own baked items, our own jams and jellies, a family photograph or other similar gifts speak volumes about loving and caring,” he wrote. “Involve the children in planning for Christmas by helping them to create and make gifts for others and to focus upon children who do not have what they have.”

Even with the calendar filling, it’s not too late to have a meaningful Advent. In fact, the season is just beginning. What’s your “church new year’s” resolution? Make one, and then share it with us through the “Post Poll” on page 1 if you wish.

As for me, I’d be more than happy to remove that colonoscopy from my crowded December calendar! — Thomas J. Dermody, editor-in-chief, The Catholic Post

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