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Christmas Isn’t Over Yet

December 26, 2013

Christmas Isn't Over Yet

A blessed Christmas season!

Just a warning: I will be driving around the Archdiocese today. If I see one Catholic home, with the Christmas tree taken down already, outside near the trash can, I’m coming in and cursing your New Year!

We Catholics celebrate Christmas until the Epiphany, the Sunday after New Year.

People complain—and rightly so—that we start to celebrate Christmas way too early, usually in mid-November, and no longer take Advent seriously. They’ve got a point.

I gripe because we stop celebrating Christmas too early! Keep the tree up; keep the carols going; keep the lights on; keep wishing Christmas greetings; keep the crib up...until Epiphany!

The song goes, “We need a little Christmas!” Well, we also need a long one!

These days of Christmas—the ancient “Twelve days”—are radiant with beautiful feasts:

December 26 is “The Feast of St. Stephen,” the first martyr. This innocent, pure baby, born yesterday, calls us to let Him be reborn in our hearts...and the commitment that entails could cost us our lives!

December 27 brings us the feast of Our Lord’s best friend, St. John the Evangelist, whose Gospels and Letters found in the New Testament tell us poetically of the reality of the Incarnation, as “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

December 28 recalls somberly the Holy Innocents, those little boys under two slaughtered by King Herod in a jealous rage, intent to murder the newborn messiah. Jesus inspires faith and love—look at yesterday’s saint; or, Jesus threatens people, and they react with anger and hate, like Herod.

The Sunday after Christmas, this year December 29, celebrates the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Yes, January 1 is New Year’s Day—reason enough to celebrate and ask God’s blessing. But, our ancient Catholic tradition also honors Mary, the Mother of God. That baby, born an octave ago, is true man, but He is also true God. He is Son of God; He is Son of Mary. God the Father honored her. So should we.

January 3 brings us the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the Name which is itself a prayer, an act of faith, since it means Savior.

Don’t forget January 4, the feast of our first native born American saint, born and raised here in New York, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton.

And, finally, January 5, as we recall Jesus revealed to the nations, represented by the three wise men, as Lord and Savior. It’s the Epiphany.

Okay, now you can take down the tree. Send me any leftover Christmas cookies.

A blessed New Year!