The St. Andrew Novena is a popular Advent devotion. Beginning on the Feast of St. Andrew, November 30, the prayer is said 15 times a day until Christmas. While it’s called the St. Andrew Novena, the prayer is addressed to God and focuses our attention on the coming Nativity. For this reason, it’s also called the Christmas Anticipation Novena.
Month: November 2019
Cooking for any holiday is work. Just ask any host who prepares Christmas dinner. All good feasts worth their salt require hours, if not days, in the kitchen peeling, chopping, stirring, roasting. They also require weeks of planning, shopping, cleaning, setting the table, and decking the halls. If that’s true today (and trust me, it is), when fancy gas ovens, KitchenAid mixers, and Breville food processors do half the work for us, imagine what Easter breakfast required in a world without electricity!
Years ago, while perusing a dusty old junk shop with a friend, I happened across a tarnished silver serving tray. It wasn’t solid silver—just silver plate—but it was beautiful. It was also five dollars. I bought it on the spot. When I returned home I found some silver polish, cleaned up the platter, and used it to serve hors d’oeuvres at my next dinner party. I felt like the poshest hostess on the block. Considering that, at the time, I lived in a Washington, DC ghetto, that wasn’t much of a stretch.
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For years, mostly because of the hassle of traveling 1280 miles, roundtrip, on Thanksgiving weekend, I stayed in Steubenville for the holiday and opened my home to whomever didn’t have one that day. One year, that number was as large as 25. Another year, it was as small as four. A few special friends, however, have always been around the table, and those are the ones less than pleased when Chris and I go to my parents for Thanksgiving.
Contemporary Gnosticism is a totalizing ideology that brooks no opposition and tolerates no dissent. It wants to separate humans from all tradition and social locations (family, community, and so on) that serve as natural points of opposition. Separated from tradition, family, culture, and nature, the individual becomes a subject of the State facing the stick of coercion. But there’s also a carrot. Like all ideologies, contemporary Gnosticism entices postmodern men and women with promises of a perfect utopia, a heaven on earth in the here and now, if only we trust elites to run with their plans for us.
The Gospel of Matthew presents itself as a universal, authoritative document persisting for all time for the Church enduring for all time through its narrative, through the form of a story. Reading the Gospel of Matthew, then, requires significant attention to its narrative dynamics. Redaction criticism—comparing passages in the Gospel of Matthew with similar or near-identical passages in the Gospels of Mark and Luke apart from their narrative contexts in the Gospels in an attempt to get at what the Gospel writers thought—fails to take account of the storyline of each of the Gospels and ironically goes beyond and behind a Gospel writer’s intention.