A (very) Practical Catholic Guide to Christmas Preparation
Fr. James believes I’m more practical than I really am – until he finds out the truth –
here is a helpful Q&A.
Is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Yes. My Spotify account is eager to play a Michael Bublé or Bing Crosby classic. But not until Advent. We have a precious time in November to remember the Holy Souls in Purgatory – they are often forgotten when Jingle-Bells begins. Let’s maintain our music sobriety for them – one day we shall be where they are.
When should I begin Christmas decorating? Advent – and not all at once. The four weeks of Advent offer a progressive build up to Christmas. Take the Mass Liturgy as a model – during Advent Catholics first meditate on the Second Coming, then the Old Testament Prophesies, then the events of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, and only then the Birth of Jesus. Notice also, that in Mass we do not sing Silent Night until Christmas and the Octave – Advent hymns take first place. And most important – the Crib and Shepherds takes priority over Santa’s Elves on our lawns.
What Christmas present should I get my priest? Nothing is required or expected. The greatest gift to a priest is for you to draw closer to the Lord. It is the best gift if your priest helped you persevere in the state of grace and fruitfully receive of the Sacraments. If you like, making a spiritual bouquet of Masses, prayers and good works for the priest’s intentions will benefit both the priest and you into eternity.
But I also want to give a material present, what should I get him? A lot of good people express their affection for a priest with gifts. But what do you get a Man of God with a limited wardrobe colour, who eats limited sweets, reads specialized books, and spends his free time modestly? A good question!
Some suggestions: Instead of items of clothes, a gift card for a department store or gas station. Instead of full pans of a famous sweet or savoury dish, a single person serving on a plate – this way the priest can sample your food, and nothing goes to waste. Instead of a particular book you’ve read, a gift card to a Catholic bookshop. Instead of gift cards to a favourite restaurant, cash (I know it sounds gauche, but this will be much better used and enjoyed).
Hopefully this provides some helpful guidance for Christmas preparation.
A final reminder – the Holy Souls in Purgatory should take the first place in our devotion until Advent.
Fr. James Zettel