Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Not Over: Christmas Season

The Christmas season is NOT over.
The Holy Family, Nave Window
St. Benedict's, Amherst NY

It is very tempting to let the secular world determine when Christmas starts and ends.  But that is not the Catholic understanding.  For us the liturgical season of Christmas BEGINS on Christmas Eve and ENDS with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

We must be careful not to let the world of commerce usurp our sense of sacred time.  Businesses use our holy days to make money, and while it is certainly admirable for people to earn an honest living, we must not let consumerism determine Christmas.  For too many Christians, that is exactly what happens.

Please keep your Creche scene on display throughout the liturgical season of Christmas. Click HERE for details about Christmas and the Creche scene. Understandably, our trees may need to come down earlier, but don't let that determine the end of Christmas! Become aware of how the Church's celebration and the secular world's celebration of Christmas differ.  Keep Christ in Christmas for His entire season of grace.

Nave Window
St. Benedict's, Amherst NY
Here is how the Christmas Season unfolds for believers:
Christmas celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation - God became man or to put it in biblical terms: "The Word became flesh."  Jesus is truly God and truly man.

Dec. 26 - we recall the first person to die for the Christian Faith - the deacon and first martyr, Saint Stephen.  This day reminds us of the seriousness of our Faith. This is also true of the feast of the Holy Innocents on the 28th of December.

The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us how important the family is.  Jesus was truly like all of us.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph are highlighted as a group.

click image for details

January 1st we observe the most ancient feast day of Mary - Mary, Mother of God (Theotokos). This reminds us of Mary's unique, mysterious and wonderful role in salvation history.

Epiphany is celebrated to remind us that Jesus is Christ for ALL people.  The magi represent all people, all nations, recognizing Jesus as Lord and Messiah.


There is an ancient hymn used by the Church in the Office of Readings (Matins).  It is particularly appropriate for Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord:

Te Deum - Ancient Hymn
God, we praise you; Lord, we proclaim you!
You, the Father, the eternal –
all the earth venerates you.
All the angels, all the heavens, every power –
The cherubim, the seraphim –
unceasingly, they cry:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts:
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory!”

The glorious choir of Apostles –
The noble ranks of prophets –
The shining army of martyrs –
all praise you.
Throughout the world your holy Church proclaims you.
– Father of immeasurable majesty,
– True Son, only-begotten, worthy of worship,
– Holy Spirit, our Advocate.

You, Christ:
– You are the king of glory.
– You are the Father’s eternal Son.
– You, to free mankind, did not disdain a Virgin’s womb.
– You defeated the sharp spear of Death, and opened the kingdom of heaven
    to those who believe in you.
– You sit at God’s right hand, in the glory of the Father.
– You will come, so we believe, as our Judge.

And so we ask of you:
give help to your servants, whom you set free at the price of your precious blood.
Number them among your chosen ones in eternal glory.