December 31, 2014
Don’t Stop Celebrating Christmas Now
Can I consider this my Christmas card to all of you?
My love, gratitude, prayers, and best wishes for peace and joy this Christmas!
Think of what I first saved on postage stamps alone!
Now, here’s a request from your Cardinal. It might surprise you, since most people expect their pastors to warn against too much festivity. Instead, I’m encouraging you: keep celebrating Christmas! Let the festivities begin!
For quite awhile we’ve heard people moan that Christmas now starts way too early: the trees and decorations, the carols and parties, all begin so soon that we’re weary of the season by Christmas Day!
I guess there’s not much we can do about that, but we sure can do something about the other extreme: to stop celebrating Christmas way too soon!
Not us Catholics! We keep rejoicing and singing, visiting and wishing “a blessed Christmas” until the ancient “Twelfth Day of Christmas,” Epiphany, the Sunday after New Year’s Day.
The Church loves to take its time, to savor truth, goodness, and beauty. A mystery like the Incarnation—the Second Person of the most Blessed Trinity, God the Son, the Eternal Word, taking flesh, becoming one of us, born on Christmas—takes a while to appreciate, so let’s celebrate for awhile, okay?
The day after Christmas, we recall the first martyr, St. Stephen; the next day, our Lord’s friend, St. John; the day after, those poor baby boys, the Holy Innocents, massacred by King Herod, who was threatened by the news that the real “king” had been born.
The Sunday after Christmas, we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph; on January 1, we solemnly recall Mary, the Mother of God; and the following Sunday, Epiphany, the manifestation of the newborn Jesus as savior of all the world, represented by the “wise men” from afar.
Then, and only then—hear me?—can you take down the tree and the lights; then, and only then, do we stop the carols and put away the cookies.
Don’t let me catch one barren Christmas tree from any Catholic home outside in the trash before then!
Celebrate! We need a little Christmas! We need a long Christmas!
We’ve sadly lessened Advent, as we follow the lead of the world and start celebrating Christmas the end of November; let’s not drop the Christmas season, by “giving up the spirit” the day after. Keep at it!
A blessed twelve days of Christmas!