Prior to the opening of stores on Thanskgiving evening, some began to question the morality - or at least the appropriateness - of businesses requiring their employees to be separated from their families on such an important national holiday for such a mundane purpose of shopping. One might have hoped that shoppers might not arrive at the stores until Friday, but such proved not to be the case at all.
Remember: if customers did not go to the stores the stores would not be open. It is that simple.
This situation will only likely grow worse in coming years as our nation becomes ever more secular. Indeed, many who call themselves Christians are more attuned to a secularist lifestyle than they are a Christian one. Considering all of this, one could hardly call this "the hap-happiest season of all." Yet for those who realize what began this evening, they know this to be truly "the most wonderful time of the year."
When Edward Pola and George Wyle composed that song in 1963, they sang of the pleasant and cherised memories "and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago." It was, perhaps, a simpler and more focused time than the present day, yet it may also have been their attempt to reclaim and restore such glories to their own day. Their day, after all, led to the state in which we now find ourselves when Christmas is more about a boost to the economy than it is about the Savior of the world who is largely ignored in his manger or even about spending time simply enjoying the company of family and friends.
This is because - I would argue - we have largely forgotten the most wonderful time of the year, the great season of Advent. Advent is composed of two principle parts, the second of which is the proximate preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ; the first consists of the preparation for the Second Coming of Christ when he will judge the living and the dead. With its conclusion with the Nativity of the Lord, the season of Advent reminds us that the judgment of God is love.
This profound and life-altering judgment is lost in the inhuman mess of corporate and invidual greed; some Black Friday shoppers were indeed thinking of others and completing their Christmas shopping, but many others were shopping simply for themselves.
I urge you: recover the season of Advent! Do not give in to the secularist push to ignore the Second Coming of the Lord! It is high time that Catholics lived like Catholics!
To help you in this noble effort, I offer the following suggestions as possible ways to keep the Advent focus:
- Wait to put up your Christmas tree until December 17th, when the Church turns her focus from the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time to his First Coming in Bethlehem.
- Keep the Christmas music for the season of Christmas, from December 25th through at least January 6th. Some music we typically associate with Christmas could be easily described as holiday music. Songs such as Jingle Bells (which is actually a Thanksgiving song), Frosty the Snowman, etc. are what I have in mind.
- Spend a few minutes in prayer each day by reading the daily Mass readings.
- Set up an advent wreath in your home and Jesse tree.
- Ask the Lord for the grace of a happy death and seek to ensure that you live in a such a way that when he comes again the Lord will recognize you as one of his own.
Yes, their are many details that need attending, but if we focus first on Christ all of these other things will fall together. Time spent with Jesus is aways time well spent; it is never time wasted, especially during Advent, the most wonderful time of the year.