Your generation has been short-changed for a few reasons, but one, in particular, stands out. You didn’t grow up with Schoolhouse Rock. Do yourself a favor, stop reading this email, go on your iPhone or iPad, open your YouTube app, and type in “Conjunction Junction.” Give yourself an early Christmas gift and type in “I’m Just a Bill.” Watch those and tell me they are not an ingenious tool for learning.
Those musical vignettes helped me understand things my regular teachers oftentimes struggled to teach within the confines of a classroom. At an age when I would have rather driven a nail through my toe or soaked a paper cut with lemon juice than be in class, these cartoons had me singing about the defeat of the British at the hands of the colonists during the American Revolution.
As a matter of fact, they were so ingenious that without knowing it, I was actually learning on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Can you imagine that? On days and at times when my mind was as far away as possible from schooling, I was being schooled. Furthermore, they were so effective that now, at 53, I still remember them. I actually sing them to myself in the shower or in the car.
So, following the lead of Schoolhouse Rock creator David McCall, I came up with two Advent ditties:
Advent convention, what’s your intention? Putting up wreaths and lighting four candles.
Advent convention, how’s that intention? I’ve got one that is rose, but most are purple.
Earlier this week, I mentioned in my email the Advent wreath. So, I feel pretty good about your understanding of this Catholic tradition. The one thing I emphasize is that Jesus is unquestionably the light of the world. That’s why the candles are so important. Jesus is a light that breaks all darkness. He breaks not only the darkens of the sin and death that looms great in the world, but he also breaks the darkness of sin and death all too often present in our own personal lives. In other words, don’t see Christmas this year as simply something universal, but take it very personally.
Mangers make for graceful decor,
Yes they do, make for graceful decor.
Somewhere in our sacred, holy chapel
You get a manger as a graceful decor.
Mary, Joseph, and the angel,
the wise men, the shepherds and the animals.
The crib, the star, and the stable
Give you a manger as a graceful decor.
Speaking (or should I say singing) of mangers, there’s an ongoing debate around here about them. Do you place the baby Jesus in the crib, or do you wait? I decided to reach out to some of my fellow priests who know a thing or two about what liturgically is best. I got a great solution. The manger scene located in the Our Lady of Belen Chapel principally serves a liturgical purpose. It’s a prayerful tool for the Masses during Advent. For this reason, Jesus will be absent from that manger with the images of Mary, Joseph, the angel, shepherds, Wise Men, and animals staring in its direction in hopeful anticipation. It makes sense since that’s what Advent is all about. The other mangers located randomly around campus (main office, administration building, etc.) will have baby Jesus laying in the crib.