Thursday, December 19, 2013

Listen to the Locust-Eating Guy! (But have some fun while you're at it)

O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

This is the O Antiphon for today. When I came to Franciscan my freshman year, I met some people who would get super pumped about the O Antiphons each December 17. I had heard of these antiphons before, but they had never seemed to be that crazy huge of a deal. Well, a book that I received many years ago about preparing for Christmas has reflections each day, and starting December 17, the reflections were all about the O Antiphons--and lately, especially since I took a class on Covenantal Theology in the Old Testament (PBS I with Bergsma), the O Antiphons have struck me much more. These antiphons all show the desires for the Messiah; the Anointed One who was prophesied in the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophecies are so cool, and seeing how they are fulfilled in Christ is amazing! Just look at Ezekiel 34. Seriously, do it! 

The O Antiphons capture the different Messianic hopes of Jews in the ancient times, but also our hopes today. I know that many times, people get so caught up in the decorations, music, and customs around Christmastime, that they forget the time of Advent, the preparation, repentance and longing for the Messiah. Yes, making Christmas candies is a way to prepare for the blessed occasion, but we cannot lose the penance of the season. After all, what did John the Baptist do? He preached a repentance, and the forgiveness of sins as he prepared the people for Jesus! 

We need to listen to this locust-and-honey eating desert guy. 

In this final stretch before Christmas, we need to intensify our preparation for Christ with repentance of sins and forgiveness of others. Repent! Examine your conscience and your life, go to Confession, forgive others, reach out to others in love, and prepare for the Messiah! We need to prepare for the coming of Christ, not with tinsel and twinkly lights, but with pure, loving, forgiving, selfless hearts! That doesn't entail being all "Bah humbug, no Christmas cheer" and such, and going Christmas caroling is good, but I really feel that our society--and many Catholics--have lost a sense of penance and spiritual readiness during Advent. 

Our first Christmas tree in our little home! : )
The scrappy snowflakes were made by yours truly,
 the good ones were made by Jacob. 
As we prepare for Christmas, Jacob and I have been praying Las Posadas, frequently lighting our Advent wreath during prayer, and have been focusing on Advent--prayer, repentance, forgiveness, etc--not going crazy with Christmas stuff, aside from a couple parties at school. However, with Gaudete Sunday this a few days ago, we have been in more of a rejoicing mood! Yesterday, we took a trip to Amish country, which is a lovely place. While there, we bought our first Christmas tree, and last night we decorated it while blasting the Seraphic Fire Christmas CD :D (as a side note, y'all need to listen to Seraphic Fire, because it is an INCREDIBLE group! They came to Franciscan and gave a performance once. So good!) What a super awesome day! 

At Tis' The Season store, in Berlin Ohio!
So, my friends, I hope that you all have a very blessed and penitential Advent, and that you all have fun preparing for the coming of Christ on Christmas, and every single day at Mass and in others!  And don't forget--liturgically, Christmas goes until January 12th, the Baptism of the Lord. So don't put away those Christmas decorations and music in December, 'cause we need to party right into the New Year with the Baby Jesus! In fact, I challenge all of you to say "Merry Christmas" to random people in late December/early January. It gets people in the store confused sometimes, but it's a great evangelization opportunity--we need to let people know that Christmas keeps going!