Today, for Catholics in Louisiana there was a more resplendent color on the sanctuary.
I thought Mass was lovely. The church was full, purple was on everything from the priestly vestment to the cords around the white robes of the eucharistic ministers. We barely knelt to pray upon entering the church when my youngest daughter tugged at my arm and pointed to the newly lit purple candle cradled in the Advent wreath.
What a joyful season to be a child.
The new liturgical church year was welcomed in with more poetic words and song verses and acclamation. The second revision of the roman missal is all some of us know in our lifetime. It's the only words my husband and I have ever recited at Mass.
This third revision is challenging but very forgiving. It takes our vernacular language and makes it sing with hushed reverence because isn't hushed reverence the way we should enter the holiest of holies? (Hebrew 9:3)
It isn't that the Church Christ created is changing, it is that man, in his fallen nature, never gets things quite right. Luckily, though we think all things happen in our time, they don't. It's in God's time and these forty years are mere blinks of God's eyelashes. He opens His eyes and sees His creation trying to get it right this Advent.
Never quite succeeding but trying to remain faithful.
All in God's time.
And so we prepare to enter a new church year, a new revision of the Mass, and the arrival of a precious baby.
I appreciate the week after Thanksgiving day and December 1st. It's a forgiving week in my home life. It's the week for cleaning, breathing slow, enhaling ideas and plans. It's the week I like to bare my house of the ordinary. All regular things are put away and wrapped in quiet. December 1st marks a wonderful time of year for me and I prefer Advent to start afresh on the frost of December.
A new month. A new time. A new church year.
This year I wasn't feeling much of anything. My house is in a state of remodeling, a renovation disaster. Too many broken pieces, too much uncensored paper in heaps. This homeschooling mom-writer-director of a tiny-piece-of-God's-vineyard is losing ground. We had just arrived home from our week of celebrating Thanksgiving Indian-style. Blankets and dirt-tinted clothes buried the floor which was already drowning in clutter. I couldn't think of cleaning, much less Christmas preparation.
But children have a way of feeling everything. Barely had the Thanksgiving bins come down from the loft to be filled and Annie had her daddy pulling the numerous Christmas bins down as well.
A flat tire (
which I will not reveal was threadbare because then one wonders why my child was driving around with a threadbare tire and, thus, makes us seem like bad parents because that's the first thing people assume; and so, this flat tire...) interrupted the clean-up and put-up of dirty soggy camping clothes, equipment and supplies. Bins dusted high with year-old dust bunnies were stacked outside my door waiting to be welcomed inside. A shattered glass candle holder was the defining cymbal.
And I was tired.
It's the same feeling a pregnant woman has the month before her baby arrives. A feeling of overwhelming denial. A feeling that one woman just can't do it all. A feeling of wanting to curl up into a fetal position and live in disbelief. I honestly didn't have the motivation or the umf! to put out Christmas.
That's when a young child takes you by the hand and heralds you into a new moment in time.
It's a delicious time of life. It's a holy time, a rewarding time, a sanctifying time.
It's definitely worth preparing for.
And so we began.
And I realized that while the rest of my house was in holy turmoil, there was God's providence...two rooms cleaned most recently by my oldest daughter while the rest of us lived in the woods. Two main rooms of the house, the heart of our existence, the kitchen and the living room, cleaned, decluttered, and ready for Christmas bounty and blessing.
This morning we made cinnamon rolls and coffee for breakfast, went to Mass and husband made gumbo for lunch, and we decorated the Christmas tree. It wasn't a perfect beginning. Most of my children were working this morning. One of them woke up sick.
BUT we had a baby in the house; you know, for the cooing sound effects and photo opts. ;-)
It's a penitential time of year but it's also a waiting, a holding, a reverent moment in time, a preparation. Rather than preparing for a death and an open tomb, we are preparing for the birth of a baby.
It's a pregnant pause.
Some in the church would say Advent, as a pregnant pause, should not have so much hustle and bustle and there is no room for frantic pacing. Any one is has been pregnant remembers the month before the birth compared to the month following the birth. They know what a pregnant pause entails.
When we prepare for a baby during that pregnant pause we cook and freeze dinners, we select birth announcements, we make sure the camera battery is working, we decorate the nursery and people give us gifts. It's a blissful, happy time of life.
There are pauses of meditation and wonderment. There are moments of quiet reflection. It's a hustle-y, bustle-y, frantic season of life.
Our culture is what it is. We can work to make it holy. Preparation is not holy hush and quiet reflection. Preparation calls for action and service. There is lots of merriment and rejoicing during this holy season of Advent. I think it's good and holy. It's the rejocing of the upcoming birth.
After the birth comes the holy hush and quiet reverence over new creation and the fullness of God made man.