Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forget Christmas!

Well for the moment at least. Advent is near and I've been asked to recommend some 'basic' material for the Season. The traditional theme across the season is The Four Last Things. You can find the text of the classic exposition of the themes by Fr Martin von Cochem OSFC can be found on line at Catholic Tradition. Numerous distributors carry hard copies of the Tan edition.

Joanna Bogle, she of Auntie Joanna Writes,  has written a concise guide to the season published by CTS. With the commercial Christmas tending to bypass the Advent period this might be a useful source for recovering some traditional preparation customs. By the way, in the broader context of family catechesis, the magazine The Sower as published by Maryvale Institute may also be useful. For Advent music, free of any trappings, a Phillips CD caught my eye. Gregorian Chant for the Church Year: Advent / Veni Domine, Schola of the Hofburgkapelle of Vienna, directed by Fr. Hubert Dopf, S.J., CD, Philips, CD 446 087-2. The recording contains all the Masses for the Sundays of Advent.

There is, of course, a lot of web resources 'out there'. Each of the main sites seem to be doing their own Advent thing. A search engine will probably spin out too many results without a careful selection of terms. If you are trying to keep to the Advent theme you can try this string on Google or an equivalent. I tried excluding 'Christmas' from the search string but it seems to severely limit the returns.

The theme of giving alms shouldn't be forgotten. If you are wondering about the picture Wikipedia makes reference to a custom which I'd never heard of before;

In many countries Advent was long marked by diverse popular observances, some of which still survive. In England, especially in the northern counties, there was a custom (now extinct) for poor women to carry around the "Advent images", two dolls dressed to represent Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. A halfpenny coin was expected from every one to whom these were exhibited and bad luck was thought to menace the household not visited by the doll-bearers before Christmas Eve at the latest.


  1. Yes Father, that custom was news to me also. Perhaps it has been replaced - in Ireland at least - by Traveller women carrying babies up and down O’Connel Street. Of course that is not a religious custom, nor is it confined to Advent. And I don’t think they would be satisfied with a ha’penny either!

  2. It also was news to me Father, but reminiscent of the 'May Processions' that children used to hold in Liverpool, parts of Lancashire and perhaps other places about 50 years ago.

    In May a group of girls (pre teens as we would say today) would dress up with their leader in white if possible and wearing a veil.

    They would hold flowers and knock on people's doors asking for money.

    It was regarded as another of those things that children did at various parts of the year - like carol singing and penny for the Guy.

    Sadly, all that has gone, with television and pop/celeb culture


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