This is a post that sounds like satire but is not. This is a post about cold, hard, liturgical reality: The best Catholics are the slackers.
That’s right friends. You agonize every year about whether you’re doing Advent, or Christmas, or Lent, or Easter just right, and you have the pictures on Pinterest to prove it. Dear, dear one, lose your life and you’ll find it. The best way to be liturgically on the ball is to drag through life barely holding your head above water.
Here are five proofs hidden in the couch cushions at the home of that friend who never invites you over because her life is such a trainwreck. Not kidding. This works. Especially #2.
#1 No new music.
New music is for people who have time to learn things. Now mind you, I don’t object to the odd innovator. But nothing says in step with the season like singing last millennium’s music. Or the millennium before that. If it was good enough for Advent 1016, it’s good enough for me.
#2 No gratuitous shopping trips.
Christmas is so commercial! they weep. Not if you don’t have the time, money, or energy to go the store, it’s not. You don’t have to be poor in the spirit, just poor in something that keeps you out of the mall. I’ve tried it both ways. Not shopping is better.
#3 No decorating and entertaining excess.
Yes love, we’ve heard all about how so very tired you are from all the time and energy you spend getting your house (and office, and wardrobe) just so for the holiday season, and how much work it was to put on your fabulous collection of carefully tailored parties (one for clients, one for employees, one for the neighbors, one for the close friends, one for the other friends, one for the friends who can’t be with the other friends . . .). Sweetie pie, if you were really tired? You wouldn’t be doing all that stuff.
You know how tired people entertain? By sleeping. That’s how. It’s very entertaining, try it sometime.
Liturgical tip: Start the season utterly exhausted, and you’ll never, ever have to wonder if you’re losing the “real meaning of Christmas” amid all your busyness.
#4 Your Christmas tree will always go up at exactly the right time.
This is the great thing about trees: They look great anywhere. Your Christmas tree might be sojourning in the forest all winter this year — that’s very contemplative, you know. But imagine for a moment that you mustered the wherewithal to drag a tree, or some inventive product that reminds the casual viewer of a tree, into your home this holiday season.
Some Catholics, under those circumstances, would have to worry: Have I done this too early? Too late? When exactly is the tree supposed to enter the home?
Not you, exhausted slacker friend! If it arrives early, it’s an Advent tree, or else it’s you managing to get something done ahead of a time for a change. If it comes in the 24th, hey, perfect!
But what if, say, you pull it off the neighbor’s curb on the 26th? You’re a shining example of good stewardship, both financial and environmental. Rejoice — you’ve been heralded in a century-and-change of papal encyclicals. Woohoo!
#5 No skimping on the fullness of the season.
What’s the big rush in taking down the Christmas decorations?
Would it really be the feast of the Presentation if there weren’t a few reminders of the Nativity artfully displayed about your home? What about the Annunciation, huh? Are you so spiritually adrift on the tides of the seasons that you’ve never noticed the parallel between the manger and the tomb? It might be easier to catch those connections if you weren’t so keen to whisk away your baby Jesus to His summer home in the attic.
And of course there would have been no Easter if we hadn’t had Christmas first. Leaving out your past-due decorations is like living every day of your life in a dusty, slightly dented, but arguably beatific living Gospel.
While organized, industrious people pack up their holiday spirit in order to bustle onto the next big source of ennui, we slackers bask in the glow of eternity, our living-rooms perpetually witness to timeless truths.
Happy Advent! And other seasons, too, while we’re at it.