Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reorienting the Three Kings

I was delighted to receive email from someone who attended my recent talk about Advent, delivered to parents engaged in "whole family catechesis."

These brave souls are parishioners at The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen, NJ. Lots showed up. They had to; it was required. But they laughed, took notes, and asked if I could come back, so I'm thinking they didn't mind me being their assignment. I certainly had a great time with them!

My Advent presentation includes a heartfelt mini-tirade about how it is not "pre-Christmas" but a liturgical season unto itself. I also wax on about the Three Kings and describe a folk custom with great catechetical value. And so, I was very happy to learn that someone did, in fact, go home and move the Three Kings. Her kids "LOVE" looking for the wandering royalty every morning. There's still time to adopt this custom, even if you don't have kids.

Here's the deal: Do you have a Nativity set? Is it set up? If so, where have you placed the Three Kings? If they're anywhere near the manger (i.e., crib) , then right after you finish reading this post, push away from the computer, get up, and move them. They should not arrive on the scene until the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6).

Until then, have them trooping along your window sills or wandering across your kitchen counters. My Wise Guys are making their way along the tops of several adjacent picture frames in my hallway. They will travel throughout my home during the next few weeks before ending up by the manger which, by the way, will not have Baby Jesus in residence until Christmas Vigil.

See? It's never too late to have a happy Catholic childhood. For my 100-word reflection about the childhood I did have relative to Christmas, check out today's entry on the Advent calendar at BustedHalo.com.


  1. Loved your reflection.

    What a great custom. This brought up some great memories. In my Catholic childhood, we had an old wooden manger with well worn ivory figurines. Many of the manger figures "traveled" because grubby little hands would reach in and pull them out. (Especially the sheep and shepherds, who wound up by the train track which seemed like an anachronism to me.) The most often heard words were "OK, where's the shepherd?" or "Where did Mary and Joseph go?" to which we'd reply "Bethlehem?" until we could sneak them back inside the manger.

    All of the figurines became more and more imperfect over the years. When we got older the old wooden manger was replaced with a new one- but it just didn't look right. So the wooden original was put next to it and the new figurines put inside. It was a compromise for one year but the next year the old manger and figurines were the only ones put out.

  2. At a talk years ago, someone told me about how her mother used to tape the Three Kings to the draperies when they got to that part of the living room. Clearly that family did not have cats!


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