What's that? Christmas is over, you say? All the lights are being put out, the decorations are for the most part gone, and other "commercial seasons" are beginning to clamour for our attention? Well, let them go fly a kite! They're not getting my attention, which I am carefully and jealously guarding for what and who really matters....
Since the time of the first Christians, they needed and loved to extend the festivals that grew around his passion, death, and resurrection, and subsequent ascension into heaven and sending of the Holy Spirit.... 50 days in fact! Even that wasn't enough, and they gave themselves another 40 days to prepare for that holiest of weeks between Passion/Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
They did the same thing to properly remember, ponder, and celebrate the Lord's incarnation and birth, taking 30 to 40 days before Christmas - if we mark the time from the 33rd Sunday and the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Christ the King, which focus our attention of the "final things" and second coming of Christ in glory as judge of the nations - to get off the merrygoround of the world to give proper attention to the significance of the presence of God among us in the human flesh of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" marked the high season of Christmas from the Day of the Nativity through New Year's Day marking the maternity of Mary, Mother of God (since Jesus although fully human was truly God, the divine Son of the Father, existing from all eternity with the Father) to the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the manifestation or the revelation of Jesus as Son of God and Saviour of humanity to the nations in the persons of the three Magi from the East.
The pressure from society at large and the secular culture to get on with the business of profit and pleasure is so great that only the devout and determined manage to maintain the ancient tradition of keeping festival of the Lord's birth not just for 12 but for 40 days, til February 2nd, the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas, when candles are used in procession to gather around the manger to acclaim, worship, and praise Jesus as the Light of the Nations.
Merry Christmas Season! Happy, Healthy, and Holy New Year 2007!!!! Fr. Gilles