Church fully decorated for Christmas on Dec 16


#1

On Guadete Sunday, our church was fully decorated for Christmas.

Christmas trees (in the Sanctuary), lights, candles, garland, banners, the nativity, every piece of sparkle and shimmer was in place - at least Baby Jesus wasn’t in the manger yet!

Anybody else have Christmas decorations up this early in church?

The pastor said it was his decision. Yet just two Christmases ago this same priest lectured a lady who brought some greenery in for the Advent wreath. He asked her remove the dozens of tiny flowers from the branches and then he used it. She was so embarrassed, she was nearly in tears. She was a convert and didn’t know. He explained that as Catholics, Advent is a time of penitence in preparation for Christmas, a little Lent.

But now he says Guadete means rejoice and we rejoice by celebrating the birth of Christ. He also says the Church does this with the “O antiphons.”

He seems to have had a great change of heart. I thought he was correct previously when only the Advent wreath was out until Christmas. The last Sunday before Christmas, all the families stayed to decorate … that’s been our parish tradition as long as anyone can recall.


#2

Our church is not yet decorated. At home we often put the tree up on Gaudete Sunday, but this year we haven't. We did have floral arrangements on Sunday and of course the priest's vestaments were rose, but the altar cloth and other 'decorations' (cloths on the ambo and redros) were the regular advent purple. The large outdoor nativity was put up the first Sunday in Advent, but baby Jesus is not there untul Christmas Eve.

Perhaps your priest's change of thinking started with the incident you remember from 2 years ago. Or perhaps there was some discussion among the staff and this was both more convenient and something the pastor could accept since it did fall on Gaudete Sunday.


#3

Our priest handles 2 parishes and he is a new pastor. In years past we were not allowed to decorate until after the 4th Sunday of Advent - this past weekend Father made a comment that we have no Christmas decorations up and the other church does. We are not familiar with their past traditions and all we are really concerned with is doing it the proper way. Some of feel like the Christmas trees could be placed on the Altar along with other greenery along the choir loft and we just do not light them until after Advent. After his comment the ladies started putting up some decorations yesterday. Does anyone know when it is proper to decorate for Christmas and what can be done before? We are small and lost all our Altar coverings in Katrina so we are limited to white, purple and gold at this time - hoping to be able to buy and make proper Altar cloths next year.


#4

[quote="ilySHJ, post:1, topic:308701"]
On Guadete Sunday, our church was fully decorated for Christmas.

Christmas trees (in the Sanctuary), lights, candles, garland, banners, the nativity, every piece of sparkle and shimmer was in place - at least Baby Jesus wasn't in the manger yet!

Anybody else have Christmas decorations up this early in church?

The pastor said it was his decision. Yet just two Christmases ago this same priest lectured a lady who brought some greenery in for the Advent wreath. He asked her remove the dozens of tiny flowers from the branches and then he used it. She was so embarrassed, she was nearly in tears. She was a convert and didn't know. He explained that as Catholics, Advent is a time of penitence in preparation for Christmas, a little Lent.

But now he says Guadete means rejoice and we rejoice by celebrating the birth of Christ. He also says the Church does this with the "O antiphons."

He seems to have had a great change of heart. I thought he was correct previously when only the Advent wreath was out until Christmas. The last Sunday before Christmas, all the families stayed to decorate … that's been our parish tradition as long as anyone can recall.

[/quote]

This priest's understanding of the season did undergo a shift from the pre-Vatican II understanding of Advent as penitential season in imitation of Lent to a post-Vatican II understanding of Advent as a time of joyful expectation (which may include personal reflection and penitence in preparation of celebrating the Nativity).

Unfortunately, he also represents extremism of both trains of thought leading to bad pastoral manners and over exuberant anticipatory celebration.

The better pastoral stance would be:

  1. During Advent, avoid flowers; but there's no need to be strict and harsh about it. The avoidance of flowers is to highlight the festiveness of Christmas, not because everyone is doing penance. My personal tendency is to use Norfolk Pines as sanctuary decoration (without florist glitter!) as a simple way to bring in some greens, complement the Advent Wreath, and give a foreshadowing wink to the coming Christmas tree. I'll add red berries and pine cones (without glitter!) to the wreath, but not ribbons or flowers.

  2. During Advent, avoid decorating for Christmas unless pastorally difficult to do, as what happens when Christmas falls on a Monday or Tuesday. In those cases, we'll have most of the decorations up for the 4th Sunday of Christmas. I can't imagine a scenario where it would be necessary to decorate before the 3rd Sunday of Advent.


#5

Usually we have a super efficient person who insists that it be done before the 4th Sunday in Advent so that it’s ‘done’ and she doesn’t have to worry about it closer to Christmas.

I’d rather have a pot luck or pizza luncheon after the last Mass on the 4th Sunday in Advent and do a decorating blitz that afternoon. In order to conserve energy, we use the Chapel during the week so it wouldn’t interfere liturgically with the days before Christmas.


#6

Sometimes I think we protest too much over the insignificant...kinda like yelling at school kids for walking on our lawn.

Loosen up, guys!


#7

nope, not yet....my parish probably will decorate after Noon Mass on the 4th Sunday of Advent this year since Christmas Eve is a Monday...or Monday late morning / early afternoon before the 4:00 Vigil Mass. We have a Jesse tree decorated with ornaments made by the grade school kids and that's about it for "decorations".


#8

Our Church is not decorated, and neither is our home.

We have a tree up, but it is bare, except for some small purple ribbons.

It will be decorated on Christmas Eve, and that is when we will put up the rest of the Christmas decorations.

That is also when we will begin playing Christmas music in our house, and will continue to do so throughout the Christmas season (which STARTS on Dec 25)

That is something our pastor asks our parish to do each year, and we happily comply :slight_smile:


#9

blog.archny.org/index.php/the-annual-advent-argument/

from Cardinal Dolan - December 3rd, 2012

even at St. Patrick’s Cathedral the crib is already up – - since thousands visit daily – - but the manger is dramatically empty, with the baby Jesus not arriving until Christmas. While the visitors admire the crib scene, they realize someone is missing – - Jesus! – - and are reminded what Advent is all about;


#10

[quote="Don_Jackson, post:6, topic:308701"]
Sometimes I think we protest too much over the insignificant...kinda like yelling at school kids for walking on our lawn.

Loosen up, guys!

[/quote]

Much agreed!

Personally, I would just defer to the pastoral authority of the priest on this issue. There are certainly many ways of expressing the Advent mood of sober joy, and it would be unfair of us to assume the position of the Magisterium. :)


#11

[quote="Don_Jackson, post:6, topic:308701"]
Sometimes I think we protest too much over the insignificant...kinda like yelling at school kids for walking on our lawn.

Loosen up, guys!

[/quote]

:thumbsup: The undecorated trees were in the church at Mass on the 16th - decorations to be put on by anyone that wanted to help after the last Mass.

I don't understand what trees have to do with Christmas? A nativity display yes, but a tree?

:shrug: BUT I certainly don't let it bother me.


#12

[quote="1_with_God, post:11, topic:308701"]
:thumbsup: The undecorated trees were in the church at Mass on the 16th - decorations to be put on by anyone that wanted to help after the last Mass.

I don't understand what trees have to do with Christmas? A nativity display yes, but a tree?

:shrug: BUT I certainly don't let it bother me.

[/quote]

I've come to peace with Christmas trees in the sanctuary by putting up just one (yes, I eschew the theory that if one tree is good, thirty-two are better!) and decorating it with just white lights and with a star on top. Then I make sure it's in the background to the nativity scene. This way, the tree serves to be a background of 'stars' with the Star of Bethlehem shining down from top. People are happy there's a 'Christmas tree.' And I'm happy that it's a scriptural image and not some oddly adapted Pagan custom to which secular society has an obstinate fetish. :D


#13

It takes us 3 days to decorate, inside and out. If we waited until Christmas Eve, we wouldn’t finish before my husband had to go back to work.


#14

In our church the trees and wreaths go up on Thursday night along with the creche. The flowers are going out on Sunday after the last mass because we all have off on Christmas eve this year, except the music people.


#15

Our church was decorated for the first Sunday in Advent except for the Poinsettia and the manger. We have a very small parish and getting people to help decorate is very difficult, so when they were there to change the colors in the church, it was best to get them to decorate at the same time!


#16

[quote="RoseMary131, post:9, topic:308701"]
blog.archny.org/index.php/the-annual-advent-argument/

from Cardinal Dolan - December 3rd, 2012

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#17

We won’t decorate the church till Christmas Eve day. Father’s preference.


#18

Because Advent is a time for anticipation of Christ's 2nd coming, as well as an "anticipation" of his 1st, I think it fine to decorate previous to Christmas (leaving out the baby Jesus from the manger, of course). In this way, we celebrate and anticipate when Jesus does return.

In my parish, the priest sets up a huge nativity scene at the front of the sanctuary (not in the sanctuary, but in front of it). It takes up the entire length. It's very floral and complex, with a little waterfall, river, manger scene, etc. He often points to it and says that we too should be prepared, like the manger scene, for Jesus' arrival, leaving nothing to the last minute.

Anyway, I think there are bigger things to argue about than when we should put up Christmas decorations.


#19

[quote="ilySHJ, post:1, topic:308701"]
On Guadete Sunday, our church was fully decorated for Christmas.

Christmas trees (in the Sanctuary), lights, candles, garland, banners, the nativity, every piece of sparkle and shimmer was in place - at least Baby Jesus wasn't in the manger yet!

Anybody else have Christmas decorations up this early in church?

The pastor said it was his decision. Yet just two Christmases ago this same priest lectured a lady who brought some greenery in for the Advent wreath. He asked her remove the dozens of tiny flowers from the branches and then he used it. She was so embarrassed, she was nearly in tears. She was a convert and didn't know. He explained that as Catholics, Advent is a time of penitence in preparation for Christmas, a little Lent.

But now he says Guadete means rejoice and we rejoice by celebrating the birth of Christ. He also says the Church does this with the "O antiphons."

He seems to have had a great change of heart. I thought he was correct previously when only the Advent wreath was out until Christmas. The last Sunday before Christmas, all the families stayed to decorate … that's been our parish tradition as long as anyone can recall.

[/quote]

We decorated on Dec 1, but added the manger without the Holy Family on Dec 16. The Holy Family is to be added on Christmas Eve.


#20

When I drove by the church yesterday I noticed that the decorating crew was there. I suspect everything will be in place on Saturday evening. Everybody will oooh & ahh over the bows on the pews, the wreaths in the sanctuary, the dangling thingies in the windows. I'm really hoping that they won't install those ugly red swags over the new stained glass windows.

I'm of the 'less is more' school of decorating. Give me a manger scene, a tree at the back of the church, a touch of gold here and there and flowers.

The only decorating I'm doing at home this year is a wreath above the fireplace, lots of candles, a snowman sitting on the mantel (only because DH won it at his work Christmas party) and the huge poinsettia that Fr. sent. We're flying out today to spend Christmas with DD, SIL and grandson, Henry. Can't wait to wrap my arms around that little boy! DH asked what I wanted for Christmas and 'to rock Henry' was the only thing that came to mind.

Funny: We had an arts festival here recently and the artists were all billeted by local families. Two of the artists were discussing what they could get for their billet and flowers were suggested.

Ashley: "Oh, yes, we could get her a placenta!"
Sara: "Yes, because there's nothing like an afterbirth to show how much you care!"
Ashley: "??? The red Christmas plant??"


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