Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blending the Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath


The Jesse Tree and Advent wreath are two very common items Christians have used to mark four week period before Christmas called Advent or the six period that was known as Celtic Advent. In the modern time Advent has become a great way to stay focused on Christ and helping families overcome the commercial hurdles that Christmas represent.

The Jesse Tree is an older customer that was the precursor to the Christmas tree. It includes the creating of ornaments that represent events in the salvation story and within Jesus' family Tree. The focus of the Jesse tree is based in the Old Testament and process though Genesis and ends with the Gospel of John, on the Birth of Christ (John 1:1-18) on Christmas day.

The Celebration of Advent uses the Advent wreath and the family lights the candles each night at their table. They light one Advent candle the first week, two advent candles the second weeks, three the third week and of course all four advent candles get lit for the last week. There are prayers that can be used but also the stories that go with the Jesse Tree are also great readings to be read as the candles are lit and to be discussed as each family has dinner.

From the Creation Story to the Christ himself the biblical figures lead us though our salvation history and a great way for families to reflect on these events each year. The Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath have prefect relationship help us stay rooted in the real meaning of Christmas





Monday, August 18, 2008

Advent Wreath Safety

The advent wreath is one of those items that help decorate the home for Christmas. It also helps with families by getting them ready and keeping them focused on the coming of Christ. But the advent wreath is something that should be considered for some dangers for children and pets alike.

Hazards for children include choking hazards like small berries that adorn an advent wreath. Also, the material of the wreath in many cases is not made to be put in the mouth. These are just a few items to consider when you put out the advent wreath for your family when there are small children in the house.

Pets also bring special challenges to an advent wreath. It is mostly seen in issues when real evergreen garland is used to make the base of the advent wreath. Usually people use wire which can cut gums if chewed on. Or, the needles themselves as they try get very sharp and can when ingested cause tears or punctures in the intestinal lining of the animal. These holes can cause internal bleeding. Additionally, many animals have an allergic reactions to the needles.

Additionally many fake advent wreaths have artificial berries making it again a choking hazard for the animal as well as a possible cause of an intestinal blockage. However, far worse is the 'real' counterparts. Most typed of Holly and Holly Berries are toxic if swallowed. It also is not advisable to put any type of mistletoe on the wreath but cause that too is toxic to pets. And although not directly related to the advent wreath, poinsettias are massively poisonous to dogs and cats. Never mount a poinsettia flower to your advent wreath.

Last by not least with children and animals, it is always advisable not have candles burning. Tapers are very easy to knock over and should always be watched. Battery operated candles are always a good alternative to a real candle small children or animals are present. Another alternative is a small cloth advent wreath. Its is also a wonderful item to help keep children grounded and they can have it safely in their rooms and not have any hazards.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Catholic Have Moral Choices to Make in Upcoming Election

I'm posting a link here in hopes it will help some who may be undecided in the Presidential election. As Catholics, we have a responsibility to pick the proper candidate for President. Our obligation to the unborn confounds me how we as Catholics could ever vote for a pro choice candidate. Oddly the bluest states, NY and NJ are also some of the most catholic states.

Its worth the read:

Celtic Advent Blends Many Early Cultures


Celtic Advent in the pre Nicene church, early Christianity that pre-dates the Nicene Creed, the roadmap of what Christians, Catholic and Protestants believe. was very different than what we celebrate in the modern time. First Celtic Christianity participated and flourished in this period right up though the middle ages and had its own unique way of celebrating the season of Celtic Advent.

To find the roots of Celtic Advent one must look at the early periods of advent have roots back to the Gauls and their Monks who seems to fashion the period to mimic advent. They did not have a Celtic advent wreath but started the period of fasting on Nov 15th. This season kicked off with a Mass. This was defined as a period of fasting for 40 days and atonement. It was a reflective period that many who were preparing for baptism would use this for purification. The period of time is still observed throughout the eastern orthodox faiths. And in the Roman Catholic Church this period of purification and enlightenment was moved to lent and still observed within the present time as part of the RCIA program that does use the tenants of the early church to bring people into the church. This was restructured this way after Vatican II.

In the 4th century, Advent, mimicking Lent seems to start to change a bit. Although it still was penitential in nature and was still a fasting period, it also started to become a period of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. This tradition still is with us to this day. As we move though the present season of Advent, we use our advent wreath, we mark our salvation history. We then look to preparing for the Christ Child and then on to Christs second coming. We still have a dedication to prayer and penance in the present church.

Celtic Advent is truly a blending of the two societies and the date of Nov 15-Christmas Eve was a perfect way to add pray and penance and atonement long before Christmas or the commercialism we face in the present day. .


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Advent Candles Represent More than Light

The candles that make up the advent wreath hold a special symbolism. In their color, their composition and just the sheer act of lighting the candle of advent wreath breaths a air of hope into each of the nights that make up the season of Advent.

The first week, a purple candle of Advent the candle is named the Prophecy Candle. The first week of Advent focuses on the prophecies of the Old Testament that speaks of the Savior, Jesus. The Old Testament lays out our salvations

The second week of Advent's Candle, Purple in color, is called the Bethlehem Candle. This candles got its name because of the period of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Thematically preparation is the key. Just as John the Baptist prepared a way for Jesus, Mary Joseph also had a place prepared for them by God in Bethlehem so that the birth of Jesus was a fulfillment of the scripture that was previously prophesized, tying the event to actually the first Advent Candle lit. The prophecy of Bethlehem's involvement in the birth of Jesus was prophesized in Micah 5:2-5, which names Bethlehem by name.

The third week of advent has the Shepherds Candle. This candle deviates from the 2 previous purple this one is rose colored to represent the joy of being half the way though the Advent Season. This candle received its name because of the Shepherds who came to find the tiny King and received great joy in coming to the Lord. Just as in present times when we find the Lord.

The final weeks of advent has the Angels Candle lighting the way. The Angel candle got its name because of because it was of course the angels that announced the birth of Christ. This candle also serves to remind us of God's infinite love. And the gift of his only Son that he gave us.