The Creche

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Yes, Advent is on the horizon. The weather is turning colder and the nights are darker early, and the month will end with the readings reminding us of the Lord's coming at the end of time.

Apparently my predecessor was not in to decorating the house for Christmas, much to the chagrin of the staff and other workers. I remarked that Grandma's handmade ornaments had been in boxes for the past three years and I could hardly wait for the tree so that they could see the light of day. Well, this remark caused great joy in the religious education staff. We will probably set up the tree on Dec. 17.

The creche has always been an opportunity for me, for reflection, for recreation, for inspiration and memory. Probably one of my fondest memories of childhood is my father lifting me up to see the Creche at St. Bede's when I was a small child. I will always be greteful to Fr. Ray Cera for finding for me the statement in depositions for St. Gaspar's canonization that he recieved a creche scene as a gift from some nuns and kept it set up in his room all year.

My Fontanini creche scene is a gift from a close friend. I have added several pieces to it in recent years, mainly because I was able to acquire so many pieces inexpensively when I was in Italy.

The creche tradition, a gift from St. Francis, is an everlasting reminder of the incarnation, that the Word was made flesh and lives among us. Each year as it is set up I am reminded how he came to us in the midst of ordinary daily life, hidden in the midst of sundry daily activities and commerce. These days as I celebrate the Eucharist I cannot avoid the sound of the cars going by on the busy street outside the church, totally unaware of the great mystery taking place so close to them.

Anyway, several people are involved in setting up the creche this year and providing various components to make it a beautiful scene this year. This is such a difference from the past few years in the formation community. Cruz and Ken have constructed a table large enough to hold it, Phyliss has hemmed a cloth to cover the table and provide a front for it. Many have provided materials for trees and other artifacts. The wreathe is being prepared and the candles puchased. It seems that we will be ready for Advent when it comes and the celebration will be a spiritual one for the Christmas feast. The progressive set up of the creche begins with Thanksgiving.

Christmas Eve and Day around here will be pretty hectic, 25 masses in three days, so the days in preparation will be very important. Advent is too important and too beautiful to limit to just the short season in purple. The readings and prayers turn to Advent themes at least two weeks before the beginning of the season proper. There is no reason to avoid the early celebration of the Lord's Advent.

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Probably my first adult conversion occurred in my late 20's when I discovered the richness of the Advent season. A houseful of young children meant that daily Mass was out of the question, but for the first time in my life, prompted and mentored by a young priest friend, I followed the Liturgy of the Word at home, developing an appreciation of and love for the prophetic writings of Isaiah.
That first experience has grown and expanded over the years until now, as an elder, I continue traditions started long ago that are enhanced by long experience and some added insight and even a little spiritual growth.

Thank you Fr. Jeff for today's reflection. As we deal with the difficulties and sorrows of every day life, it is good to look forward to the great joy that is coming in the life to come, but also on this earth as we celebrate the Advent and Christmas seasons.

My favorite time of year! As a convert, I've always been secretly pleased that even the Baptists (who are deathly afraid of saint statues) display the creche at Christmas. Personally, it takes everything to fight back the temptation to tell my family, "I love your statue of Mary!"

I think an important point for Catholic families is to make the creche a centerpiece of your Christmas decorations - this keeps the focus where it should be! Thanks for the reflections, Father.

God bless,

I love the symbols and music of Advent.

My childhood memories are of late Christmas tree setup, and then the tree being up until 12th night. We did have our own version of the Posadas, with Mary and Joseph and the donkey journeying through the house on their way to the stable.

In church, I don't like to see any creche until the readings turn on December 16/17 towards the birth of Jesus. Even if that impacts the Catholic school children; it will still be up when they return in January.

Thank you for the beautiful reflection. I am so pleased that this year I will get to see your creche in person! Thanks too to Peggy for your reflection. Tomorrow we go into another time darkness where the Lord will bring light: Retrouvaille weekend for San Francisco.

Maria Elena & Dave

  one of Fr. Keyes' photos

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. published on November 4, 2004 9:35 AM.

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