Saturday, November 24, 2012

On Being Counter-Cultural: Christ is King

Consider how incredibly blessed we are this year that the Feast of Christ the King, which ends the Roman Catholic liturgical year, falls a mere two days after the consumer frenzy of Black Friday. As one of my favorite websites, Occupy Advent, tells us on their facebook page tonight: Christ the King may well be the most counter-cultural festival on the church calendar. Think for a moment about all that we allow to be Lord. And yet, the seminal confession of the church, "Jesus is Lord," is also a renunciation of everything else that lays ultimate claim on our allegiance.    This year, as the mother of two teens, I am trying to encourage our whole little family to slow down, to look at the reality beyond the relentless consumerism that sometimes can feel suffocating.

I am as culpable as any other American consumer in turning the day after Thanksgiving into a hunt for cheap consumer goods. Our 13-year-old and I braved the traffic, the parking lots and the lines to cashiers on Black Friday so I could buy him an outfit for a Bar Mitzvah he went to today. This is the fifth he has attended in the past year and he is growing so quickly, I have to keep on buying him new dress pants and shirts. He can wear his dad's dress shoes now. 
I hadn't been out on Black Friday since I was a retail reporter years ago in Winston-Salem, N.C., covering the crowds. But there were not all that many people out, if my memory serves. Now, Black Friday has morphed into an endurance contest - how much shopping can you get done in the hours after Thanksgiving dinner? Did you stay up all night to shop? 

I was shocked by the crowd at Kohl's, our first stop. The lines were at least an hour long to the cash register. We headed to TJMaxx next door and yes, I loaded up on stuff - Christmas tablecloths, a beautiful runner and some peppermint soap. We waited 15 minutes in line, which felt like nothing after considering what was going on at Kohl's.

I turned to another great resource, Catholic Cuisine, to figure out how to make tomorrow's Feast of Christ the King more meaningful for my family. In addition to attending Mass together, we will be eating a "royal feast" of ham and green beans and a chocolate cake. Talking with teens about our faith is not always easy. Ours sons have plenty of distractions. We all do.

When Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925, he was worried about the human tendency to ignore the supremacy of Christ, thus leading to secularism. 

Tomorrow is an opportunity to emphasize the supremacy of Christ. The common mentality does everything it can to prevent us from proclaiming Him and from reclaiming this "holiday shopping season" as a holy time spent preparing for His birth, for the time when Mystery entered the realm of the human. 


  1. Have a wonderful, Feast Day, Allison!

    You are right -- talking to teens about the Faith is not easy. used to have a great program for teens. I'm not sure if they still do. Jason Evert's stuff is also awesome.

    1. Thanks Susan. I will check it out. And Happy Feast Day to you. I think you would enjoy the Occupy Advent site...

  2. We did a little Black Friday Shopping, as we usually do, but the places we went were not as bad as the Kohls you described. For me, being counter cultural is not so much avoided the good deals on Black Friday, but remaining Christian through it all. It's easy for people to get "ugly" when they have to stand in a long line (or in one case, a woman was complaining when there was only ONE person in front of her!). Eric decided to get a gun on sale at Gander Mountain and encountered some very ugly attitudes from the long wait.
    It's what's in the heart that matters.

  3. Excellent point, Sarah! Christ is ever-present, even in the long lines and jammed parking lots. I am glad to hear your foray wasn't as intense as ours...Blessings.

  4. Thank you for the recommendation, and for joining us as we watch and wait!