Brandon's Notepad

December 2, 2019

Happy New (Liturgical) Year!

Filed under: Catholic,Christianity,Religion — Brandon @ 1:48 pm
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Happy New Year! Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, marking the beginning of the 2019–2020 liturgical year. The sermon at Mass was filled with the typical reminders that we ought to spent the next few weeks reflecting on our lives and preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus in the nativity, something we are urged to do every year at this time. It dawned on me that, in a way, we are making New Year’s resolutions, committing to changes in our lives that should in someway improve the condition of our souls. How is this really different than making New Year’s resolutions on January 1st? So often we resolve to exercise more, eat less, set aside time to read, spend more time with family, etc. Should we not make similar promises at the beginning of Advent to read more scripture, pray more often, and volunteer to help others?

December 27, 2013

Getting Things Done: Advent Calendar

Filed under: Christianity,GTD — Brandon @ 5:34 pm
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Home > My Research > Improvement > Getting Things Done > GTD Advent Calendar

I wrote recently on GTD & The New Age Movement and how Christians can baptize GTD for their use in leading productive and holy lives. Here is a good opportunity for those Christians who celebrate the liturgical season of Advent to do just that.

We have a new Advent calendar in our house this year. It is a five-foot-tall fabric angel with twenty-five numbered pockets sewn on the front of her dress (Pottery Barn Kids). Instead of loading the pockets up with treats or toys, we printed a set of Jesse Tree ornaments and mounted each one on a square of red cardstock. With a quarter-inch red border, these ornaments fit perfectly in the pockets. The printable includes a page with a table that names the picture on each ornament as well as chapter-and-verse references to related Bible passages. The table was sliced into strips and distributed with the ornaments into the pockets. Each day, just before dinner, the ornament and Bible reference were drawn from the pocket and after reading and discussing the Scripture, the ornament was hung on the barren branch of the Jesse Tree.

Yes, the Advent calendar itself served as a reminder to read the Scriptures daily, but it wasn’t the white strips of paper that prompted me to write this post. It was the little strips of green paper that bore certain reminders like “Trim the tree today” and “Start baking cookies”. My wife had turned our Advent calendar into a holiday tickler file! Maybe my enthusiasm for GTD is finally rubbing off on her.

December 13, 2009

Celebrating Advent

Filed under: Christianity — Brandon @ 10:00 pm
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About Advent

Advent. The season of Advent is an annual period of preparation for the coming of the promised savior, Jesus Christ. In the West, the liturgical year begins with Advent and it lasts twenty-one to twenty-eight days, beginning with Advent Sunday (Levavi), the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Its name is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. This has a two-fold meaning, as the purpose is to both commemorate the First Coming and prepare for the Second Coming.

The Nativity Fast. The Eastern Church celebrates a similar forty-day Nativity Fast that begins with the Feast of Saint Philip on November 14th and ends on the Eve of the Nativity on December 24th. Practices are different than in the West, more closely resembling Lent, and are not the focus of this page.

How To Celebrate

Advent Calendar. The Advent Calendar is a 19th Century German invention. Over time, various methods were used to count down the days until Christmas, but the most familiar form used today is a two-layer wooden or cardboard calendar constructed such that twenty-four little doors on the decorated outer layer conceal pictures or writings on the inner layer that pertain to the First Coming of the Lord. One door is opened each day in December before Christmas Day. Those serious about observance will avoid the secular varieties and may choose to make calendars for their children by hand before the season begins.

Advent Wreath. The Advent Wreath is another way to count down the season of Advent, this time by lighting one candle each week of the season. Like the Advent Calendar, the Advent Wreath was probably invented, at least in its modern form, in 19th Century Germany. Some early examples included four white candles to represent Sundays and nineteen red candles to represent the other days. The current standard is four weekly candles, the third being rose in color (for Gaudete Sunday) and the remaining three being violet, all of which coincide with the liturgical colors used in the Western Church. The lighting of candles, either weekly or daily, is usually accompanied by some form of devotion, typically prayers and readings from Scripture. An optional white candle in the center of the wreath, called “the Christ candle”, is lit on Christmas Eve or Day in some observances. The evergreen wreath and accumulation of light symbolize spiritual endurance and the anticipation of the coming Christ as the light of the world respectively.

[Two variations are worthy of note. Blue candles are popular as this color was once used in the Sarum Use of the Roman Rite, in England in particular; however, the use of Sarum blue liturgically is no longer authorized. Some Orthodox believers have adapted the Western standard, adding two candles to represent the additional weeks of the Nativity Fast.]

A daily Advent Wreath Service is available, based on the Evening Prayer Service on page 109 of the Book of Common Prayer.

Nativity Scene or Crèche. The Nativity scene is a reproduction, usually in miniature, of the stable in Bethlehem where the infant Jesus was born and visited by shepherds, the Magi, and others. Two traditions of “building up” the Nativity scene are popular. The first involves adding the characters to the scene in the order they would have entered the real stable, beginning with the animals, Mary and Joseph, etc. The infant Jesus is added on Christmas Day and the Magi at Epiphany. The second involves adding a piece of straw for each good deed performed by the children in the household.

Advent House. This is a combination of an Advent Calendar and Nativity Scene. Twenty-four windows on the exterior of the house open to reveal scenes related to the First Coming and a twenty-fifth window or door reveals the Nativity.

Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree helps us remember important people and events from Old Testament Scripture. Symbols representing each person, such as a ram to represent Isaac and a ladder for Jacob for example, are sewn or constructed from paper, and though there doesn’t seem to be any standard, many Jesse Tree ornaments are white in color. The ornaments can be added daily, accompanied by Scripture readings about the persons they represent.

Advent Music

Ad Te Levavi. Ad te levávi ánimam meam, Deus meus, in te confído, non erubéscam. To Thee have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed. These are the first words of the Intoit for the first Sunday of Advent.

O Antiphons. The O Antiphons are said or sung during Vespers (or Evening Prayer) between December 17th and December 23rd. There are seven antiphons, one for each day.

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