By: SCCB Staff January 20, 2015
|Sweets seized by St. John the Divine ushers during Advent penitential service.|
Eganville, Canada - Ever since a visiting Polish priest reminded St. John the Divine's congregation that Advent was traditionally considered a penitential season, like Lent, parish staff and committees have been hard at work trying to make Advent less joyful, like Lent.
"Though it's hard to measure such things," said St. John's new pastor, Fr. Mark Gray, "Clearly, there were fewer smiling facing around here, saying things like 'Merry Christmas' during Advent. I think it was a real success."
"We were very clear about what should be done," said parish council chairperson, Sandy Weeks. "During the announcements before mass we reminded people: no 'Merry Christmases' until the 25th, no Christmas carols, no gifts or celebrations..."
"Particularly successful was the 'Smiles of Shame' collection drive where parishioners could put a Loonie in the big bottle for every time they had let a 'Merry Christmas' slip out during the week, or were acting too festive. The money was donated to the most cheerless place we could think of, Iraq - but only after the 25th - we wouldn't want the Iraqi children being un-penitential during Advent," added Mrs. Weeks.
However, the town's shopkeepers who had finally made the crossover from 'Happy Holidays' to 'Merry Christmas,' were somewhat dismayed to hear about this new focus.
"Sure it took some getting used to," said sacristan Helen Waddell. "But, all in all, we were very blessed to find out about the penitential character of Advent in the Early Church."
When asked about the Polish priest who started the drive to make Advent more penitential, Fr. Gray said, "We don't know where he is precisely, but I am sure that wherever he is, he is spreading less Christmas joy there too."