• I've decided to make a serious attempt, prompted by a thread over at WDTPRS, to "keep" Advent as both a penitential and preparatory season in anticipation of Christmas.

    So far, I've got my Advent candles (three purple, one rose) but no wreath of greens, as alas I'm an apartment dweller and I don't want to risk the fire hazard. They tend to dry out very quickly. I may get some greens to put around it for Sunday IV.

    I've also put up my tree with white lights, but instead of Christmas ornaments, the tree is decorated with purple ornaments and some rose-colored ones, with just a few (3) gold ones hidden throughout as a symbol of the anticipation. The tree is topped with a large purple bow. I also have a swag of greens with white lanterns and a big purple bow surmounting my front door.

    I'll be abstaining from listening to Christmas music at home, limiting myself to the few recordings of Advent music I own (a recording of the Advent Procession from St. James' Episcopal Cathedral, Toronto, and J. Michael Thompson and his Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle singing Advent Lessons and Carols, called, "Redeemer of the Nations, Come").

    On Gaudete Sunday I'll make my Christmas cookies and write and post my Christmas cards.

    On the morning of Christmas Eve, the purple and rose ornaments will come down and the Christmas decorations will go up on the tree, over the door and elsewhere in the apartment.

    A word about my Nativity set: the stable went up on Advent I; the animals will go in this Sunday; the shepherds on Advent III; the Angel on Advent IV; Mary and Joseph on Christmas Eve morning, and the bambino on Christmas Eve when I get home from Midnight Mass.

    So, what is everyone else doing?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    I usually try to take my Christmas tree down by Lent. ;-) Of course, it just folds up and goes back in the box. I do have the nativity set at the school where I teach, but not at home.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    Gosh, let's all go over to David's house. I don't decorate at all, but my sister won't put up her Spanish belen until after 12/8. I think I'll go pick up a door ornament to save for Christmastide - and make sure I leave it up until Candlemas. For my part, I'm focusing my radio show on Advent music - chants for that season and a wonderful recording of contemporary Latvian cantatas. Adventish, wintry, but trying to hold back on Christmas. As a freelance harpist, I am at the beck and call of my clients - so it's "God Rest Ye," etc.

    Penitentially, I cut back on the wine. Easy, compared to the years I was Orthodox and kept a strict fast.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Oh, we eastern Catholics know all about those Orthodox fasts. We keep them, too.
  • I just posted some pics of my Advent decorations to my Facebook page:

  • We are not putting anything up until December 24th, although, the creche, in keeping with Pope Benedict's recommendation, will be set up on Monday. I am also not playing Christmas carols. In fact, if I hear any while I'm driving, I'll change the station or switch to my Duran Duran CD. I may try to download some of the Advent hymns that the Sistene Chapel Choir sings. These are found in the Vatican Website.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,824
    My wife has been collecting nativity sets since we were married 25 years ago so we have them everywhere. All the bambinos for each are hidden away somewhere until Christmas eve. Usually the three kings are traveling from room to room. My wife has a nice mantle decoration of purple lights and greens with large purple wooden letters that say PREPARE. It's a great reminder many times a day what season we are in, and how to keep it in mind.

    We consider this a penitential season (as does the tradition of the RC Church). On the front door we have an advent wreath with three purple ribbons and one rose.

    I walk around the town with a sandwich board. On one side it says REPENT! and on the other side "CONFESSIONS, SATURDAY at 4PM" (just kidding on this one although it might be a good idea)

    We are attending daily Mass as a family. Probably the best part of Advent.
  • "Penitentially, I cut back on the wine." MJB offers.
    Charles, on the other hand being essentially eschatologically obsessed, increases his consumption of FINE red wines during Advent. Happily, that increases his ability to transcend the salicus and ictus debate and, like a true Californian, go with the flow.
    Lord help us all if I decide to snag one of those fifteen open slots in San Diego. Singing Mom MaryAnn, keep your lamps trimmed and burning.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    Speaking of fasts, did you know that good dark chocolate contains no dairy or eggs. It's a perfectly acceptable fasting food in the east. St. Lindt, preserve us. :-)
  • VickiW
    Posts: 36
    Happy St. Nicholas Day!

    Part of my Advent program is to wean myself off the telly until Christmas. These two free internet radio stations make for soul-soothing listening from my laptop.

    The first station is Catholic-sponsored and plays very uplifting music. Here is the description: "Sacred choral music centered on the Catholic tradition. Gregorian chant, polyphony and other music growing out of the Western and Eastern traditions of faith. Commercial-free!"

    And the link: http://www.live365.com/stations/vocideltesoro

    The second station does not play any Christmas music until Christmas. The station description is "Classic choral and organ works, featuring music for the Advent season. An Xmas-Free Zone until Christmas Eve!" If you use the free service, you get an ad every so often, but not a long one. Here is the link:

  • VickiW
    Posts: 36
    CharlesW, I did not realize there was an eastern rite person on the board. I am Melkite.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,510
    VickiW, I am a member of the Byzantine Catholic Church of America. But I work for the Latins as both a music director/organist, and a school teacher.
  • At my church, Stella Maris on Sullivan's Island, this is our second year of a new and very successful tradition. We don't ring the bells at all during advent, except for practice. The sound control doors are down (closed) for the entire season. We advertise for new ringing volunteers during November, and have an orientation meeting the Monday after Christ the King. Then we have beginner practices on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings all month long, with the possibility of extra 1-on-1 sessions in between. We had 6 beginners last year, 4 of whom rang for the first time publicly on Christmas Eve. We have the same numbers this year. Our new ringers from last year are learning even more quickly now, and our ringing has gone back to Saturday evening AND Sunday morning Masses! (We had curtailed the former for lack of warm bodies!)

    We also do this during each Lent, since we don't ring the bells publicly then either. Our new Lenten ringers get to participate in the ringing of the bells during the Gloria on both Holy Thursday and Easter Vigil.
  • Steve,

    Fascinating! I just visited your site to find out if this is a swinging peal or a change-ring, and very nearly stumbled over the sin of envy to discover that it's a change-ring!

    So, the big questions: How many bells; who was the founder; what are the weights of the treble and tenor; what is the band's favorite method; how many 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full peals have you rung; do you have the caps needed to ring a muffled peal?

    Needless to say I was a member, albeit an unsuccessful one, of the band at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo MI back in the 1980's. I could never learn how to control the bell well enough to even manage a plain hunt. *sigh* BUT I still love to hear them, watch people ring and teach people about the history of change-ringing.
  • Stella Maris was the first Catholic peal of bells in the USA. The Cathedral in Birminham became the second.

    The oldest peal in Charleston is in St. Michael's (Episcopal) the oldest church building in the city. The bells there were not functional until renovations after hurrican Hugo. In the aftermath of that renovation, Fr. McInerny decided to get a peal at his church. Since then, the architect who was involved in both of those designed and had built a camponile at his church with 10 bells, Grace Episcopal. As recently as seven years ago the Episcopla Cathedral purchased a redundant peal of 6 bells, and added 2 trebles. Another Episcopal church in downtown has plans for the first 12 bell peal in town.

    While I've been ringing for 30 years, most ringers here are still working on basics. Some are capable of methods, even 1/4 peals, on a regular basis. Some can even conduct 1/4 peals. Full peals are another story! The take 2.5 to 3 hours, and must be mathematically true to be recorded in England. But, with all these towers so conveniently located, we are a mecca to the change ringing world, and have visitors from the UK regularly. That's when we all make strides in advancing our skills.

    At S.M., we generally ring rounds and called changes - I usually make the calls. We are working on plain hunting 3, 4, and 5 bells, but we're not to the point of Plain Bob on anything!

    I'd put some URLs here for others to find out more, but, just Goggle "North American Guild of Change Ringing", "NAGCR", or do a search on YouTube for "change ringing", and you'll see and hear tons - literally - of bells!
  • Have been listening to Anonymous 4's Legend of St. Nicholas all week. Have switched to other music as of this evening. Had a lovely St. Nicholas morning (as described in my post on NLM). As Dec. 7 is the mem. or St. Ambrose, would be cool to attend an Ambrosian Rite mass, but not really an option here in Conn.

    I really wish there was Christmas music on the radio between Dec. 26 and Jan. 6. I admit I listen to it when it's on the radio.

    Don't forget; ember days are coming up next week (3rd week of Advent). I may try to observe the pre-Vat. II fast regulations those days and maybe seek out a TLM. I may try to fast and abstain on Christmas Eve, at least most of the day, as Christmsas Eve dinner is extremely lavish at my Polish mother's house.