LITURGY CORNER 12
with Fr. James
It is fashionable in some Christian circles to decry our cultural “War on Christmas”. We have slogans such as keeping “The Reason for the Season.” But even many of those of us who yearly bemoan the hyper-commercialization of The Holiday Season may contribute to the problem. Perhaps it is not so much a war on Christmas as it is a neglect of Advent.
Way back in the antiquity of the mid-20th century, I grew up in a household that took Advent seriously. No Christmas decorations went up before December 24th. At the Catholic elementary school I attended, the Advent season meant Advent hymns, an Advent wreath in each classroom, as well as a Jesse tree with Advent symbols. The biblical inspiration for the Jesse tree comes from Isaiah 11:1: “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” This is a prophecy of the Messiah, who was foretold to come from the lineage of David, whose father was Jesse.
So the Jesse tree symbolizes the family tree of Jesus, and my grade school was used as a teaching aid about the prophecies of Jesus, and how our longing for Christmas was related to Israel’s yearning for the Messiah.
This year we are planning on creating a Jesse tree in the chapel which will serve as our Giving Tree this year. Rather than Christmas symbols, our giving ornaments will tie in with symbols from the prophets for the Messiah. For a preview of some of these symbols, check out the lyrics to “O Come, O Come, Immanuel.”