Saturday, December 08, 2012

Little Christmas

Last night, after the Vigil Mass for the Immaculate Conception, I was reflecting on how this great feast fits in with the Advent and Christmas season. Of course, many get confused about just whose conception is being celebrated; and December 8 seems like a good time for many to put out lights or put up Christmas trees. Last night, I surprised our veteran altar server-cum-sacristan when I opted for a gold vestment, instead of a white one. But these are Marian vestments, he said; I said, nothing is too good for our Lady!

This feast is something like a "little Christmas"--even in the readings, and prayers for the day. Consider this quote from Saint Anselm, which is part of the liturgy of the hours for today:
"The universe rejoices with new and indefinable loveliness. Not only does it feel the unseen presence of God himself, its Creator, it sees him openly, working and making it holy. These great blessings spring from the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb."

So, even though we aren't directly celebrating the birth--or even the conception--of our Lord, yet this is a feast directly tied to it.

It got me thinking about something else we do this time of year. We anticipate Christmas for several weeks--we can't wait for it, and increasingly, we don't. As a result, Advent kind of gets swamped by ever-earlier celebrations of Christmas.

Not that I'm endorsing that; but in a sense, that's what happens when we celebrate this feast: and in a way, that's what we are celebrating. The glory of Christ is so great, that it shines out in all directions--even in time; so that the glory of the Incarnation shines backward in time, to the first instant of Mary's conception. The brilliant light of the Logos completely filled our Lady, so that no moment of her life was left in shadow.

Well, I'll have to continue these thoughts in the confessional! Merry (Little) Christmas!


Deo volente said...

In the meditation for this evening in the Magnificat, the Holy Father points out that in some areas of the world, the Nativity scene is displayed immediately after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (I'm sure with Jesus missing, of course). The Holy Father is clearly delighted with this as it is a great catechetical item for children in the family. This seems to tie in with your thoughts and it might be a nice thing to mention to parishioners. Jesus is to arrive soon, but is not present with us yet; that comes on Christmas!

Pax tecum,

Fr Martin Fox said...

Thanks for the comment!

One of the things I thought about, after I filed that post and went to hear confessions, was how when I was a kid, this feast followed right after St. Nicholas Day: so first we had some little presents in our stockings--or shoes--then we had a holy day that kind of looked like Christmas. For Saint Nicholas Day, I remember getting chocolate bars and fruit. As I said: a "little Christmas."

The Fabulist said...

I arrived here from reading some of your comments on Fr. Z's blog, and I just want to say how moving I found your articulation of the Incarnation radiating throughout time, backwards and forwards. So much Advent preaching approaches fulmination on the point of holding off till Christmas, and scolding those who decorate or celebrate early, and it was nice to see an understanding that maybe the world is not hopelessly corrupt and evil, but perhaps under the same mysterious spiritual compulsion we Christians are, in eager anticipation of the feast.

And indeed, time collapses for Christians. "Remembering the cross, the tomb, the Resurrection. . . and the second, glorious coming," states the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, using the same word to describe past events as one we can't possibly "remember," because we haven't experienced it yet. But of course the power and presence of God are outside time, and the altar connects time into a circle and undoes linear time.

Thank you for a beautiful reflection.