Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Christmas Octave

I was chatting with a couple of parishioners last night as we took a tea break between Mass and Benediction. They were telling me how they found it hard to contemplate on the incarnation over Christmas with all these Feasts and Solemnities getting in the way. My heart broke, those Feasts and Solemnities are there precisely to help you contemplate on the Incarnation more easily.

Obviously Christmas falls on 25th December each year. From the 26th to the 31st December we are reminded of why we have Christmas at all. Christ was born on the earth that we might be born into Heaven. The greatest way we can be born into Heaven is through Martyrdom. Therefore on the 26th we celebrate the Feast of the first man to die for spreading the Gospel, St Stephen. His feat can be celebrated with nothing less than a Feast. As an Altar Boy and member of the Archconfraternity of St Stephen he is one of my Patron Saints.

On the 27th we celebrate another form of Martyrdom. St John, another of my patrons, is a White Martyr, which means though he wasn't killed for Christ he gave up his life for the Lord and ended his life celibate and in exile. He was also an Apostle and all Christ's Apostles are celebrated as Feasts.

On the 28th we celebrate yet another form of Martyrdom. Hundreds of children killed for Christ without knowing who Christ is. Children were killed simply for being male and below the age of two. Another day that can only be celebrated with a Feast. In the 21st Century this Feast is of great importance, how many children are killed today for being the wrong gender? conceived at the wrong time? having a disability? or anything else that isn't their fault?

On the 29th, in England, we celebrate the martyrdom of a Bishop, a cleric, the Patron Saint of the English clergy. A man whose ordination would not be possible without the incarnation, a man in persona Christi was killed because he did not do as a layman demanded. A day we should all pray for our priests and Bishops. Such a day can only be accorded the rank of Feast.

On the 30th this year we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. Just as on the Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate the Feast of the Trinity, each Person of which has now been fully revealed, so on the Sunday after Christmas Day we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity on Earth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The family on which every family should model itself and become a Holy Trinity (Mother, Father and Child/ren), the Domestic Church.

The Octave ends with the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. This was once the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ but as Christians circumcision has no meaning for us, however, Motherhood and particularly the Motherhood of Our Blessed Mother does. Therefore we celebrate the Theotokos recalling both how She became the Mother of God at Her Fiat to the Archangel and how God gave Her to be our Mother as he hung on the Cross. The Octave can only end in the same way it began, with the child in His crib and His Mother praying at His side, a Solemnity.

The Christmas Octave is obviously second to the Paschal Octave but it is just as beautiful and holy and deserves the same observance and contemplation - the Incarnation!

1 comment:

Rita said...

Happy New Year to you too! I'm sure leaving out St Sylvester on the 31st was just an oversight. The pope who did much to combat Arianism: the heresy that denied the divinity of Christ. Hence, even more meditation on the Incarnation during the octave.

Happy blogging in 2008!
God Bless.