Letters to the Editor

Anticipating the Lord

Dear Editor: In response to a letter in your Christmas issue from Margaret M. Cashin, let me respectfully disagree with her belief that the Nativity should be up during Advent with an empty crib.

I have been building Nativities for the last 41 years in both St. Agnes and Our Lady of Grace in Brooklyn. Because of the great size and elaborate nature of my creations, I often had to have the Nativity finished before the last Sunday of Advent (if it was so close to Christmas as to not allow me enough time to finish it between the Sunday and Christmas). In every case, all that I would have present in the scene on that Fourth Sunday were a shepherd and some sheep. (I used a grotto and not a stable.) It was a forest where nothing had happened yet.

I always displayed a scroll with Scripture that was an Advent passage anticipating the coming of Jesus. At Christmas, the rest of the figures were in place: Mary, Joseph, the Magi, the Angel, shepherds and other animals. The Scripture was changed to Luke 2, when the shepherds run to find Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in a manger.

Margaret compares the Church with the stores, intimating that the stores are right in displaying Christmas ahead of time and that the Church should follow their lead. How sad! When I was a child, you had only an Advent Calendar and each day you opened a window to find an element of anticipation. Your family brought the Christmas tree home on Christmas Eve and decorated it then. You waited. You waited for Jesus and you waited for Santa Claus.

You went to Midnight Mass and then wished everyone a Merry Christmas. The anticipation and the absence of the Christmas elements made the arrival of Christmas all the more exciting and fulfilling.

Margaret wrongly states that in the Church, the anticipation of the Christ Child is “downplayed.” She should pay more attention to the Advent Scriptures in the Liturgy of the Word. It is all about anticipation. I think she and so many people are unfortunately missing the beauty of Advent. And to let the stores and radio stations set the example for when Christmas should be celebrated is a serious mistake.

Wait for Jesus. He will come!