Preparing the Manger

November 26, 2021  •   Tracy Earl Welliver

The cross with a crown of thorns

Where do you fall in the “Christmas-songs-in-November” debate — do you like them, tolerate them, or outright hate them? There’s no theological problem with Christmas songs in November outside of worship, even if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But there is a problem with getting so caught up in the baggage of the season — the trimmings, the gifts, the celebrations, all of which are marvelous in their own way — that you forget to prepare the manger.

Every good Catholic knows that Lent is a penitential season. It’s hard to miss that point — Lent doesn’t even have any fun songs you can groove to on the radio. We are pretty good at recognizing that Lent calls us to examine ourselves. To deny ourselves. To give of ourselves. And most of all, Lent calls us to prepare, as a good steward does, for the return of our master.

It’s harder for us to remember that with Advent, but Advent is just as much of an opportunity for penance, preparation, and reconciliation to God — and just as much reason, too. The very name of the season — “advent” — encourages us to focus on what is coming, not what is already here. Be on guard, the readings tell us today, “so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and (the coming of the Lord) catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.”

So let us not forget — our master’s advent is upon us. And let us ask ourselves: how can we prepare the manger?

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

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