happy Advent

Taught more “Catechism” tonight. I have a new addition to my little class, another Spanish-speaking boy with just enough quirkiness to fit in with the rest of my crew. His parents are from Ecuador, and he’ll be baptized after Christmas.

I missed class last week for a Communion and Liberation get-together (how could I say no to a genuine, home-cooked Italian dinner?), so tonight I asked the kids what the sub taught them. It being Advent and all, they related the Nativity story pretty well, including priceless lines about Jesus being born in a “manager” and “King Harriet” trying to kill him.

I have to admit, an hour and a half before class started, I had no clue what I was going to teach them. See, I’ve been feeling that “Catechism” (which one of them coined it that, anyway?) has been sliding, fast, downhill. Perhaps it was when one of the boys started chanting “I haaaate this” as soon as we said the opening prayer. I don’t know.

Tonight I went to Mass, though, and the Gospel hit me — the Father has revealed His wisdom to children. “My” children. The ones who thought Anakin, or at least Zorro, was a saint. Who weren’t quite sure who Jesus was on the first day of class. But who, by tonight, felt they knew enough about Him to inform our soon-to-be-baptized newcomer that the Son of God and Santa Claus were related.

And then in the homily, Fr. Peter brought up Advent’s theme of expectation, a theme that has been on my mind and, honestly, bothered me a little over the past week. Because while I am very expectant (we’re almost down to seven months before the wedding), my desires tend to not drift much further than July ’09. Oh, I look forward to, and hope for, a family, and life together with Luke, as well. But that’s all kind of packaged in with “I want, I hope, I wait expectantly to get married.” The Second Coming? Can’t my white-as-snow (well, ivory), A-line dress be eschatalogical enough for now?

Anyway, but somehow tonight’s homily broke through. I don’t even remember what Fr. Peter said, but it somehow inspired me to pray. And to be humbled at the fact that Christ comes to the needy, not the brides-to-be with perfectly planned wedding liturgies and domestic lives but no room for the Bridegroom. And, finally, to lead the “Catechism” munchkins in a meditation on our deepest desires, our “most wished-for wishes” in an attempt to explain Advent, our expectant time of waiting for the greatest Gift of all.

Yeah — the ones I have to shepherd into their seats every couple minutes and try to steer back on topic after five-minute ramblings on Playmobil Nativity sets actually cooperated with a guided meditation.

“Think about what you really want the most this Christmas,” I said. “But just keep your answers to yourselves for now. Don’t shout them out.”

“A DOG!” yelped Henry, eyes squeezed shut. “A German shepherd puppy!” (I like him. I like them all, but the rest of the class wanted something electronic. Henry still goes for good old fashioned puppies.)

I think it worked pretty well, all things considered.

On the way home, I listened to the latest radio station I discovered; this one’s been playing the most Christmas music. I haven’t been impressed so far, though. I don’t think I’m getting so much cynical about the commercialization, the manufacturing of, the meaning of Christmas, as I am disappointed by it.

But I did stay in the car to finish (and sing along with) “Do You Hear What I Hear?” I cannot pretend that it is a profound song, that it deserves to be sung at a Christmas Mass, or any of those things. But I like it, okay? Because it’s about the resonating effect of the Incarnation, from nature to the order of governance (ooooh. Take that, Catechetics majors.)

It definitely takes artistic liberties with the actual Christmas events, though. For example, “Said the king to the people everywhere/’Listen to what I say…/A child, a child/Sleeping in the light/He will bring us goodness and light”? I don’t think King Harriet would’ve said that.


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