The Reason for the Season: Introduction
Hush that anguished
hymn you're humming:
"Come, O Come, Emmanuel."
Fix his coming
"The First Nowell.
"He's already come in glory!
"Savior, come at last"?
Let's talk Christmas! Tell a story
safely in the distant past.
Drown out John the Baptist. Edit
out "Prepare! Make straight the way!"
Cut to Christmas! Buy on credit.
Square things up another day.
Advent's dreary. Let's start living
Christmas now! Wear red and green!
While we're at it, skip Thanksgiving!
Deck the halls at Halloween!
Then, when the Incarnate Verb
overnight becomes passé,
carry Christmas to the curb.
Pack the Prince of Peace away.
-- Julie Stoner, writing in "First Things"
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Today begins another Year of Grace, and the world hardly takes notice. It revels in epic films about a post-apocalyptic nightmare, even as it would be shocked at the prospect of its occurrence in real life. Yet in today's Gospel, we have been assured that it will. The difference is that no one will escape that which is otherwise limited to the silver screen.
We here at mwbh want our viewing audience (and you both know who you are) to make the most of this opportunity for such Grace, and to "wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ." This is why we will be showing a twice-weekly segment (or more if we're in the mood) during Advent and Christmastide, on ways to make this season of the year both memorable and spiritually rewarding.
To begin, we were delighted to read an account from a correspondent at New Liturgical Movement, a gentleman by the name of Andy Bellenkes. He describes for us a region of Europe where the flame of Christendom still burns bright.
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Happily, here in the Austrian Tirol, Advent is still observed as intended; a time of waiting and quiet anticipation. Yes, there is some commercialism here outside of the larger cities, but this is very limited indeed. Throughout Austria and Bavaria, one can attend an 'Adventsingen' at any number of churches and cathedrals. There, one can hear the story of Advent and the Birth of Our Lord both in beautiful narrative and music as performed by wonderful local non-professional musicians. The melodies of both the instrumental and vocal works stem from folk tradition extending back many years. At the end of each Adventsingen, whether in Austria or Bavaria, the beautifully moving 'Andachsjodel' is sung, forst by the performers and then by all assembled. It is a simple, touching, quiet piece that evokes the beauty of these weeks before Christmas. Might I recommend you [watch the accompanying video clip] where you can see and hear an Adventsingen at the village Church in Polling.
Outside, there are some lights decorating homes and those Christmas trees already standing, Yet, for the most part, these remain subdued until the great feast of Christmas Eve. It is then that the celebrations begin, the lights blaze in full glory, the music that follows Stille Nacht in the darkened, cold filled village Churches at midnight Mass is jubilant and majestic.
You might at some time consider spending some or all of Advent in Austria or Bavaria. I believe that in doing so, you will come to love what is known as 'the quietest time of the year'.
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(Did we mention that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is originally from Bavaria? Some guys have all the luck.)
In addition to our own material, we will also be introducing some of those of a fellow Virginian, namely Denise Hunnell, the Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church aka Catholic Mom. With a collaboration like ours (well, sort of; she'll be learning about it tonight, and let's hope she's a good sport about it), your household shall come to know “the reason for the season” around which the entire history of mankind revolves.
Maran atha! Come, Lord Jesus!