miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2016

’Tis the Season: Christmas Has Just Begun!

Dear Pastor Al:
It´s January. Why are still singing Christmas carols? Christmas has been over since December 26!
-Don´t Call Me Carol

Dear Not-Carol:
Retailers, cable networks, and radio stations may have been celebrating Christmas since the day after Thanksgiving (or well before!), but on December 26 Christmas has just begun. Contrary to popular understanding, the Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day and extend into the New Year, just as the Forty Days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday, and the Fifty Days of Easter begin on Easter Sunday.

I have never known anyone to remark that we sing only Lenten songs during Lent, and don´t get to the Easter Alleluia until Easter Sunday. But occasionally during Advent, someone will ask why we aren´t singing Christmas carols. Our Advent texts also anticipate the Second Coming and encourage us to see the Kingdom of God present now in our midst. It would indeed be a loss if we discarded our Advent songs.

no matter the time of year, whenever we gather for Mass, we always contemplate the entire Paschal Mystery: Christ´s incarnation, his passion and death, and his resurrection.

Consider the carol "We three Kings." The first gift is frankincense, something a priest offers in the temple, a symbol of Christ's incarnation. Myrrh is a tool for embalming-a foreshadowing of Christ's crucifixion. Gold for his kingly crown is an acknowledgment of his victory over death, when he is seated at the right hand of the father. In other words, this Epiphany hymn catechizes us about the Paschal Mystery.

Since our mortal minds cannot hold a divine mystery in its entirety, our liturgical year helps us delve ever more deeply into facets of the Paschal Mystery throughout our lives. Other aspects of our prayer help us explore that divine mystery as well.

Perhaps you have observed over the years that we don´t bring in the poinsettias until after the Four Sunday of Advent, and that we remove them as Ordinary Time begins , even though their red and white leaves are still looking fresh. That change in environment marks the passing of the seasons. In addition to environment and music, our prayer relies on texts. For example, on January 1, the Lectionary readings, the prayers of The Roman Missal, the homily, and the Universal Prayer (intercessions) help us to mediate on our salvation through Jesus Christ while we honor Mary, his mother, his first disciple and a model for all Christians.
Our prayer also needs gesture. We genuflect. We stand when the cross passes by. We make the sign of the cross. When the Gospel is proclaimed, we stand again. We bow our heads. We kneel. We extend the peace of Christ to one another with a variety of gestures. We process to the altar to receive a blessing. we walk out into the world to preach the gospel by our living .

As Catholics, we know that Advent and Christmas, as well as Lent and Easter, are important seasons in the Church year, not that there´s anything ho-hum about the precious counted Sundays of Ordinary Time. So let´s also celebrate Christmas in its fullest expression during the few weeks it comes to us every year.

God bless you and God love you!
-Pastor Al

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