Consecutive Days Riding: 50 Consecutive Days Blogging: 51
Today’s Mileage: 10 Total Trip Mileage: 439
Holidays and Holy Days on November 29:
First Sunday of Advent – Christian time of preparation for observing the birth of Jesus Christ and is the beginning of the Christian worship year. Advent is observed with the lighting of advent candles, display of wreaths, and special ceremonies. The season continues through December 24.
As I ride the bike this morning I am visited by contrasting emotions. One is positive and tied to memories of my youth, the second is somewhat unsettling and associated with the pilgrimage site we are visiting today.
Today is the first Sunday of advent and will be accompanied by the lighting of the first of four candles on the Advent Wreath. The memories of the advent wreath in the Catholic churches of my youth bring a smile to my face! It always fueled my anticipation for the arrival of Christmas. I remember the excitement I felt as each week past, moving us closer to the white candle in the center of the wreath signifying Christmas day. I wish I could report that I cherished the immense spiritual significance of the day, but like many, perhaps most children, it was the promise of Santa’s bountiful gifts that I anticipated. One of the features of spiritual rituals and symbols is that they can become strong emotional cues which may or may not have direct
bearing on the doctrine based teaching supporting the activity. Free enterprise and mass marketing provide us with a plentiful selection of gifts. However, as a result of commercialism,Santa overshadows the “Christ child” at Christmas, and a Bunny carrying a basket of eggs and candies can overshadow the “risen savior” at Easter. While Santa no longer receives my wish list, the fond memories of simple, joyful times, of family and community still visit me at this special season.
Our Pilgrimage Site visit today, the ninth in our continuing series, is to a somewhat controversial site about 30 miles east of Naples Florida. The site of Ave Maria Catholic University and the surrounding community. I struggled a bit with whether to include this location as a pilgrimage site. It is not my
intention to blog on controversial or divisive topics. However, I don’t believe that one can be open to the diversity of religious and spiritual beliefs without recognizing the presence of differing opinions. In the end, I decided to include it because of the artistic efforts underway at the site. Part of what is controversial about the site is the combining of a conservative religion with a university and a surrounding community, a community that is being constructed as an integral part of the church and university’s development. The town center is dominated by the Ave Maria Oratory, reminiscent of a medieval European village with a cathedral dominating the center of town. Some people may see the community as one large religious entity. They raise questions about who (business and/or individuals) is welcome to move into the community and whether voicing concerns about the community is the same as voicing concerns about the religion. Some have argued that this community is a shining example of freedom of religion and our right to congregate based upon principles of our choosing. Others see it as a continuing trend toward a nation of gated communities, of “haves and have not’s,” of bastions of orthodoxy in opposition to contemporary morals and change. I suspect both points share some truth. Let each reader decide!
To visit the site click on the Pilgrimage Site tab at the top of this page. If you wish to pursue the controversial issues further, I suggest the community paper web site www.aveherald.com for one perspective and www.theromancatholicworld.com November 23, 2009 and www.abovethelaw.com for other opinions.