Purple is Back!

And no, I’m not talking about J. Beib and his fav color. I AM talking about the start of Advent and a happy, exciting New Year for the Church! Happy New Year, yall!!

Raise your hand if you were as excited about the first Mass with the New Roman Missal changes as you will be about Christmas morning…

Yeah, you better believe I was! — AM! I love the new prayers. I love how the whole church was a little vulnerable, a little unsure, laughing under their breath at themselves, trying to do their best through the whole Mass. That’s how it ought to be! That’s who we are — just trying to figure it out as we go, not taking ourselves too seriously, but doing our very best to find our place in the prayer of the Church. The new changes rock. The Church rocks!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the color purple and the penitential aspects of Advent lately. I suppose I haven’t given the purple/penance part a huge amount of thought before, but my friend Sean over at The Passionate Papist offered seven great tips for observing Advent and made me think twice. Number 5 totally hooked me, and I’m going to dive into that this year.

I’m giving up Christmas desserts for Advent. Cakes, cookies, candy, brownies, etc… oh, they look soooo good!!

:O

Sometimes, I think I’m crazy… but it will be worth it. Giving up something that seems “necessary” to the season is going to be my way of thinking counter-culturally this year. Desserts have become just about as essential to the holidays as shopping and gifting… and I’m not sure it’s helping me focus! You see, the Christmas season is really after Christmas gets here. We should spend these four weeks in preparation, in waiting, and in repentance and sacrifice. I think we can be so consumed with the celebratory parts of the holidays that we forget that purple is for penance, in honor of the King. The celebration begins with His birth, and it is preceded by time to reflect on our humility and how much we need Him to come and save us.

We know that life begins at conception. Christ took on human flesh when He was conceived at the Annunciation — March 25. He is already with us, He has already come to us, yet we wait for Christmas to mark His triumphant arrival. Mary and Joseph knew and waited for nine months. We hold our breath for only a few weeks. Our time of preparation and patience is short compared to theirs, and shorter still compared to the waiting of generations of God’s people.

We may wait until Christmas, but He is already here. He has taken on flesh, and He chose Mary as the means to come to us. What great humility we should have in realizing that even when we were unaware, He came to us! Before angels sang or stars appeared in the sky or kings traveled to bow down, He was among us.

This Advent, I’m waiting for Him to be revealed. I’m waiting for Him to be revealed in the Church, in the world, and in my heart. I’m waiting for Him to be revealed by His Mother. Mary holds Him, carries Him, and bears Him… and at Christmas, she will bring Him into the world. She will reveal what she has known since Gabriel appeared — He has come. If we can open our hearts to her, even in the least of ways, Mary will reveal Him to us. She is the only one who can! If we spend this time with her in prayer and waiting, she will beckon us close to feel Him kicking, know her patient hope, and wait with her until His glory is made known.

Is there something you can sacrifice or add to help you focus your prayer? What will you do this season to prepare your heart?

from Nazareth to Bethlehem

Google maps tells me that Joseph and Mary would’ve traveled about 102 miles to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

That is, of course, according to modern maps and roads. Mostly dirt, and on a donkey. Probably busy roads, with lots of people. Not really our way of traveling!

Walking at a pretty consistent speed, it would take 35-40 hours. And with the daylight as short as it is during the winter, they probably could’ve only traveled for a maximum of 10 hours.

I’m going to guess it took them 3-4 days to make the trip.  Can you IMAGINE three or four DAYS walking in sandals or riding on a donkey??!

So tonight, three days before they ended up sleeping in a stable, might have been the end of their first day of travel. They probably stopped somewhere along the road, in a small town, and had almost as much trouble finding a place to stay. They both would have been exhausted, and still with days left to go. They would have known the Scripture, known the prophecies, and suspected that Mary would give birth. But no preparations could be made, because they were constantly in motion. They had no time to stop, rest, and be ready. The journey had to continue, and they had to press on.

Read More »