Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fr. Perrone: Seeking Advent deliverance after Thanksgiving

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, November 29, 2015):
A new liturgical year commences on the heels of the day of Thanksgiving when we acknowledge God’s goodness for His many blessings. At least, that was the original idea behind the American holiday. While I am writing still in anticipation of Thanksgiving I can say that I am in the mood for the change of season. Perhaps it was the sudden and generous downpour of snow last weekend that made me look forward to a liturgical shift.

I have always had a love for Advent but have always been disappointed that it’s so short a time. One hardly begins to feel that longing of the people of the Old Testament for deliverance by the Messiah–which is recaptured in spirit at this time–when, suddenly, the great Day comes upon us.

To help nurse that special Advent feeling along I have reproduced a hymn for the season that I sang in my youth. It is now to be found in our hymnals, glued onto a page of otherwise negligible music. The hymn is a paraphrase of the prophetic text from Isaiah, so poetic and so expressive of the spirit of longing for the Messiah: “Drop down dew, O gracious heaven.” It took some scouting to find this now forgotten hymn. None of the hymnals I consulted (and I have several of them) had it but the one, a somewhat offbeat publication from the olden days. (I can’t understand why no other hymn book carries this text and melody when the Advent time is so well captured by it.) The words of the hymn speak to the sky, asking that the dew of the Holy Spirit come down and make fertile–not the earth–but the Holy Virgin Mary who will bear the Messiah within Her. We need this supplement to the season’s hymns since “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “On Jordan’s Bank”–nice as they are–can use a little help to convey to us the Advent spirit. I hope this hymn will strike a sympathetic chord in your hearts and assist you in making this year’s Advent a little more meaningful.

The trappings of Christmas have well begun making their way into the secular world, as I was to discover the week before Thanksgiving (already!) while doing a little food shopping. The music included the refrain, “...soon it will be Christmas day.” Well, not really all that “soon.” Perhaps the commercial world would find it more profitable to play Christmas ditties all year round so that we’d soon become sick of it and make a determined effort to ‘change our tune.’ I know I say something about this kind of spoliation of Christmas every year and I do it because it ruins, if not Christmas Day, at least Advent for many people, a time which ought to be a season of vigilant waiting for Christ, a time of penitence–milder than in Lent–and a season of a sobriety that’s meant to deepen the space in our souls for a greater possession of Christ.

The cookie sale to benefit our St. Vincent de Paul Helpers seemed to do well last Sunday. The decorative used Christmas items will be made available again next weekend for you to make some bargain purchases. Our Helpers have done a lot of good in the short time that they have been in existence. I’m glad that they are dedicated to this corporal work of mercy.

We have acquired a small practice pipe organ that you will see in the lounge. It came from a parish church that was installing a larger pipe organ and which needed to find a good home for the former instrument. You may note that many parishes nowadays have only keyboards for use as a synthesized piano (a secular instrument that should not be in churches anyway) or synthesized organ. This real instrument will help us in our music program as well as give organ student a place to practice. I caution all parishioners, however, that this is not a toy for children and that it’s not to played by anyone without permission. Piano students are not entitled to play it. It is a true instrument given to us–a great gift indeed.

Fr. Perrone

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