Out of Step

My Little Blue Book of daily reflections for the Advent and Christmas Seasons asked an intriguing question on January 7:  Where do I find support for my family commitments and my religious commitments . . . and how do I support others in theirs? 

This is not an idle question these days.  The reflection also commented “to be faithful to your God is to be out of step with society. The rhythm of life today doesn’t always support family life.  It doesn’t always support what we do in relationship to our religious community.”  I find myself pondering this still, a couple of weeks into Ordinary Time.  There are so many areas to apply these thoughts to, so many ways that living in consideration of a liturgical calendar is challenging in modern America.  Christmas in particular is on my mind.  I almost feel like I missed it this year. 

I celebrated Advent, in the midst of Christmas shopping/party/preparations frenzy.  Mostly I think it worked out okay.  There were Advent programs at church, the reflection book, daily prayer, faith-sharing discussions.  I felt ready for a joyful celebration.  I felt prepared.  Christmas Day arrive. We went to Midnight Mass.  We had our kids over and shared a festive meal.  We opened gifts and laughed together.

The tricky part for me was celebrating the Christmas season from December 26 on.  December 26 I worked 8 hours as usual, as if nothing special had occurred.  Discarded Christmas trees lined the sidewalks for disposal.  No lights were lit at night in the neighborhood (except ours).  Holiday displays were ripped down at stores, already replaced with Valentine’s Day merchandise.  If Christmas was mentioned at all by anybody, it was with a sigh of relief that it was finally over with.  What?

My kids went home.  My mom went to Vegas.  My husband focussed on the next football game.  Life went on as if nothing had happened.

I expected perhaps some joyful celebration, or at least acknowledgement of the season, at our parish.  But the office was closed, the priests left town for a little vacation. There wasn’t even daily Mass, let alone anything extra special to mark the season.  Sure, they came back January 3, and we sang Christmas carols on January 1 (substitute priest) and the church was still beautifully decorated–but I felt a bit let down.  Alone in a celebration of what I view as a communal holiday.

I don’t really know exactly what I expected, though.  Perhaps I need to take charge of this myself, for myself, privately.  Maybe being out of step with the world, trying to live more liturgically, will require this.  I wonder if there is anybody out there who is willing to share their solutions to this situation.  What do other parishes do/offer as celebration from December 26 through Epiphany?  Anybody?

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About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
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4 Responses to Out of Step

  1. It may not help a lot for you to know this, but monasteries are right with you in keeping Advent as Advent and celebrating for the twelve days (more or less) of Christmas. Especially contemplative monasteries. Here in Carmel we sing daily Mass and the Divine Office during that festive time, and enjoy our lights and decorations and festivities until Epiphany. The lights go on at Midnight Mass, Christmas Eve, and don’t go off until Ordinary time starts again. Someone has to reclaim the Christmas season from those who would use the feast only as a means of financial gain. I am glad that you are taking personal responsibility for doing just that, even in the face of massive cultural indifference. It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness!

    • reinkat says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I do feel stronger knowing that there are others out there keeping the seasons in a prayerful way. I really like your last sentence, your last several sentences. They really give me pause, an alternative way to think about my feeling of isolation around this topic.

  2. Teresa says:

    I was still out East celebrating the season with my Mom so it is hard for me to know what occurs here in Eugene during the “12 Days of Christmas.” My Mom’s birthday was on Jan. 7th and we always kept the Christmas tree up until then, and many years for several days, and sometimes weeks beyond that time too. However, I did enjoy it last week when I heard Christmas songs still being played on the Catholic radio station here (94.9 FM). It was such a blessing. And I know extended family members from Mexico who said when they were young they used to continue to celebrate the Christmas season through Feb.2nd, the traditional feast of the Presentation. But I’m not sure of the traditions in Mexico today. So I think there are areas where you can find that quiet peaceful celebration of Christmas, but I agree that it is difficult to find it in our society today. God bless you!

    • reinkat says:

      Thank you for your input. I, too, greatly enjoyed listening to Catholic radio, to the carols and hymns and prayers of the season. I think what felt sad to me was the aloneness of it, the lack of community. Catholicism wasn’t meant to be an entirely solitary experience, it is a communion of believers. It is that which stung this year. We did leave our tree up until just last week, and it is still on our deck giving shelter and privacy to the squirrels and birds in the feeder.

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