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Christmas is one of the most beautiful times of the year. It (and the Advent Season preceding it) are reminders that God is present to us. We see His presence in the eyes of children, in Christmas carols sung by choirs in streets and rest homes, in Nativity scenes, in church services, in the forgiveness of past faults and offenses, in generous Christmas gifts. Christmas is an anointed time of year.
While the culture tells us Christmas ends on December 25, Christians know better. For us, Christmas Day is the beginning of a week-long celebration of the Savior’s birth. Catholics call it an octave. This is an extension of Christmas celebration. We celebrated the feast of St. Stephen on December 26th. We celebrate the feast of John the Apostle, who wrote those powerful words heard on Christmas Day, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). The feast of the Holy Innocents, whose deaths are recounted in Matthew 2, was celebrated on December 28th and December 29th is the feast of Saint Thomas Becket, one of the great martyrs of the Middle Ages, and December 29th is also the feast of the Holy Family.
In these feasts, we celebrate new beginnings: Stephen was the first Christian martyr, John was the Apostle who wrote of the beginning of our salvation at the opening of his Gospel, the Holy Innocents were the first children to die for Christ, and the Holy Family is the celebration of the Christian family.
Christmas is a season to relish, cherish, and enjoy. So as you spend time with family and friends this year, remember to extend your festivities for one week, and enjoy the mystery of God-made-Man.