[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.
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:
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.
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.