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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Make Advent Catholic Again

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Make Advent Catholic Again

Part I: How to do Advent

Well, the Devil is exposed and out in the open at last. There's no need for us to speculate about what he might have in mind for the world once the Catholic Church has been fully coopted.

Over the past two years, we have all lived through the nightmare warned against by pioneer traditional Catholics fifty years ago, i.e., lockdowns, closed churches, violence, persecution, the rise of the globalist superstate, the breakup of the family, a one world religion, the end of law and order, a pope who has lost the faith, etc. 

 

In a word, Chaos! Christless chaos. 

So, it should come as no surprise that many of us have shifted focus away from bracing for what might happen to dealing with what already has.  This night will pass, but we're going to have to take some proactive measures to ensure we stay engaged in this war for everything that matters.

One way to start doing that right away is to reclaim what is ours, not just liturgically but culturally. Let's call it: Operation Catholic Survival. And Advent 2022 provides us with a golden opportunity to begin breaking free of the mass psychosis and taking back what they stole from us, especially our Holy Days.

I’m absolutely convinced that one of the main reasons my own seven children have by the grace of God kept the old faith is that, long ago, they fell in love with something much better than what the world has to offer.

The plastic-banana, phony-baloney holiday Silly Season was cute while it lasted but it's time to move on. Or perhaps I should say: It's time to move back.   

I’m absolutely convinced that one of the main reasons my own seven children have by the grace of God kept the old faith is that, long ago, they fell in love with something much better than what the world has to offer. They grew up with the old Catholic customs associated with the Holy Days of Christendom.

The Church is our Mother today just as she was for our fathers and mothers for a thousand years. Nothing has changed, and if we allow her to show us the way she we will see to it that we survive.  But first we need to turn back to her, not just on Sunday morning but all day every day, and especially on the Holy Days. 

Nobody knows how to do Christmas, for example, like Mother Church.  She has manuals, calendars, role models, feast days and 2000 years of experience for us to fall back on. If we want to reclaim our Catholic heritage, all we have to do is go to her.

Open your mind to the buried treasure of our Catholic past with which nothing in modernity can compare.

Where to start?

First, open your mind to the buried treasure of our Catholic past with which nothing in modernity can compare. And then resolve as a parent or a grandparent or a friend or an uncle or aunt... to go out and dig up the lost treasure. 

We may have to make some adjustments. For example, my wife grew up with the Santa Claus tradition and I did not. So in the early days of our married life, we both had to compromise. In the end, we decided to invite Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) into our family's tradition.  He was, after all, a Catholic bishop and the sainted scourge of the Arians.

St. Nicholas comes to our house every year on the 6th of December, pounds on the front door and then disappears, but not before leaving nuts and candies outside the door. To our children, he was always a "big deal", even if he was perfectly content to let the Baby Jesus dominate Christmas. He shows up on Christmas morning, too...but always kneeling at the manger. 

So who subs for Santa? 

Long before Martin Luther had banished saints such as Nicholas, or Macy's had invented Rudolph or Clement Clarke Moore had penned his "Visit from Saint Nick", the heart of the family Christmas tradition was the Christ Child Himself. 

Well, here's where it gets fun, as there's a long Catholic Tradition to be reclaimed. Long before Martin Luther had banished saints such as Nicholas, or Macy's had invented Rudolph or Clement Clarke Moore had penned his "Visit from Saint Nick", the heart of the family Christmas tradition was the Christ Child Himself. 

In my father's German-immigrant Catholic community here in St. Paul, Minnesota, he was known as Christkind (pronounced kris-kint) or Christkindl. But in some parts of Italy, He was Gesu Bambino.  In Portugal, He was Menino Jesus  (Boy Jesus), in Hungary Jézuska (Little Jesus), in Slovakia Ježiško (Little Jesus), in Czech Ježíšek (Little Jesus), in Latin America Niño Dios (God Child) or Niño Jesús (Jesus Child) and in Croatia Isusić  or Isusek (Little Jesus), in Upper Silesia in Poland Dzieciątko (little baby), etc. 

From wherever you happen to hail, he is the Baby Jesus -- the traditional Christmas gift-bringer from Austria to Switzerland, southern and western Germany to the Czech Republic, from Croatia to Liechtenstein, Luxembourg to the eastern part of Belgium, Portugal, Slovakia, Hungary, parts of northeastern France, parts of Poland, southern Brazil, and in the Acadiana region of Louisiana.  

My father handed this Christmas tradition down to us just as it had been handed down to him from his father and his before him. I have been writing about Christkind in the pages of The Remnant for a quarter century, and I know many Remnant readers have since adopted the custom.

In a dreary world where pessimism and cynicism have kissed each other, it seems to me we should guard against robbing our children of the wonder and joy of Christmas— the seedbed of a child’s Faith.

Given the globalist war on all things Christian, I'm making another push in favor of these beautiful old Christian customs. Why is this so important? As I see it, because we must find a way to hand the old Faith down to our children, who are not born theologians who can easily grasp the intricacies of the great mysteries of Faith at an early age. The Faith must be lovingly spoon-fed to them, and the old-world customs of Christmas are tailor-made to instill love for the Faith before children are even old enough to understand it.

I sometimes see well-meaning traditional Catholic parents discarding Christmas customs altogether in a misguided effort to counter the commercialization of Christmas. No gift giving, no feasting on Christmas. The Baby is quite literally being thrown out with the bathwater.

In a dreary world where pessimism and cynicism—rather than righteousness and peace—have kissed each other, it seems to me we should guard against robbing our children of the wonder and joy of Christmas— the seedbed of a child’s Faith.

Anti-Catholics have long sought to destroy our great Feasts, which is why Easter Bunnies dominate Easter, Santa Claus pushed Christ out of Christmas, chocolate and romance bounced St. Valentine from February 14th, and everyone gets trashed on green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.

COVID lockdowns have shown us that our children may well live to see Christmas outlawed altogether in our brave new world, even as it was once before by the Pilgrims whose Thanksgiving trumped the “popish” feast of Christmas.

Anti-Catholics have long sought to destroy our great Feasts, which is why Easter Bunnies dominate Easter, Santa Claus pushed Christ out of Christmas, chocolate and romance bounced St. Valentine from February 14th, and everyone gets trashed on green beer on St. Patrick’s Day.

But in our eagerness to oppose the commercialization of our feasts, let's not become Puritanical agents working towards the same diabolical end. We've got to reclaim what is ours by re-catholicizing our own feasts. And at this time of year, it all starts with Advent. 

Here's how it works.

In preparation for His coming on Christmas Eve, the little children of the family set out the Advent calendar on the First Sunday of Advent, of course, but also the 'straw box', which is just a simple box covered in gold paper in which pieces of straw can be laid each time a child does some special act of kindness or makes a sacrifice during Advent. 

I can think of no better way of keeping Christ in Christmas than to begin observing these old Advent traditions every day leading up to Christmas Eve. 

The idea is to collect enough straw to eventually make a softer bed for the Baby Jesus when He comes on Christmas, each good deed or virtuous act padding His manger.

The other crucial part of Advent happens at the dinner table each evening just before the family meal. The lights are dimmed, the Advent wreath candle(s) is lit, grace is prayed, and then the St. Andrew Christmas Novena is prayed. After it is prayed at the evening meal, the family sings O Come O Come Emmanuel. 

This sacred ritual cannot be altered, tweaked or abridged in any way as far as the children are concerned, since it becomes too important to them and means Christmas is really coming. The little ones quite literally "can't wait", and yet they must...and that's just the point. They must wait, anticipate, and long for Christ to come. 

I can think of no better way of keeping Christ in Christmas than to begin observing these old Advent traditions every day leading up to Christmas Eve. 

And don't forget that, while Advent isn't a penitential season, it is nevertheless often called the 'little Lent', and so children should be encouraged to offer up small sacrifices – no candy, no eating between meals, etc.,-- as yet another way of keeping in mind how vital to the celebration of the Great Feast is the time of preparation. 

And, finally, no Christmas tree comes into the house until the day before Christmas.

Advent is the essential part of the Christmas process, even as Midnight Mass is its climax.

Advent is Advent, and Christmas is Christmas, and they must be kept distinct and separate if they are to retain the truly Christocentric character. Christmas explodes with excitement and joy for the children ON CHRISTMAS--when Christ was actually born--and not three weeks before.

Advent is the dark time of waiting, each week representing a thousand years waiting for the Messiah to come, waiting for the Incarnation, waiting for Jesus to be born.

Christmas cannot be without Advent. So let's stick it to the Devil this year, along with his Lunatics of Davos, by making this the most Catholic Advent ever. Let us reclaim the glories of our Catholic heritage-- the scourge of the New World Order. 

In a future article I will explain exactly how this Christkind custom can be implemented. For now, let's leave it at what used to be obvious to Catholics on both sides of the Atlantic: Advent is the essential part of the Christmas process, even as Midnight Mass is its climax.

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Last modified on Thursday, December 1, 2022
Michael J. Matt | Editor

Michael J. Matt has been an editor of The Remnant since 1990. Since 1994, he has been the newspaper's editor. A graduate of Christendom College, Michael Matt has written hundreds of articles on the state of the Church and the modern world. He is the host of The Remnant Underground and Remnant TV's The Remnant Forum. He's been U.S. Coordinator for Notre Dame de Chrétienté in Paris--the organization responsible for the Pentecost Pilgrimage to Chartres, France--since 2000.  Mr. Matt has led the U.S. contingent on the Pilgrimage to Chartres for the last 24 years. He is a lecturer for the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy. He is the author of Christian Fables, Legends of Christmas and Gods of Wasteland (Fifty Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and regularly delivers addresses and conferences to Catholic groups about the Mass, home-schooling, and the culture question. Together with his wife, Carol Lynn and their seven children, Mr. Matt currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.