As I write this, perhaps like most of you, I am relaxing with my family after all the exertions and celebrations of this Christmas weekend. Confessions, Masses, greetings were all both uplifting both spiritually and personally. I was very moved by the good spirits, the kindness, the cheer and respectful sentiments expressed by so many of you. I think we can all agree that the decoration of the sanctuary; and the splendid music of our Masses were special and mark out St. Matthew’s as a place where a reverent, thoroughly Catholic atmosphere pervades our worship. Our Adult and Youth Choirs are among the very best in our Diocese.
The “world” will now turn away from its “Christmas Season” ( as good as it can still be even now with all its materialism) and focus on yet more sales and New Years. To use a modern term the world’s Christmas Season is very “front loaded.” While we were celebrating the Advent Liturgical Season, the outside world was celebrating “the Holidays.” Now we embark on the “12 Days of Christmas”.
The Church ( and our Catholic tradition) “keeps Christmas ” for the 12 days between today, the Nativity, and the Epiphany, an ancient feast whose proper date is January 6th. ( I personally think that one of the least attractive features of the liturgical reforms instituted after the Second Vatican Council is this tendency to shift ancient feasts around for the sake of convenience. The Epiphany on January 6th is as ancient a feast as December 25th’s Nativity.)
The first 8 days are the Christmas Octave: 8 days to celebrate the Feast with its traditional Feasts: St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist, the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas Becket, St. Sylvester and the new Feast of the Holy Family.
Our Catholic ancestors viewed this time as the real Christmas Season. The joy of the feast can’t be penned up into one 24 hour period and we celebrate it throughout these days.
Christmas night, 2011.