Thursday, January 10, 2013

About the End of Christmas

I've switched to a new computer; I mentioned a few weeks ago that my "old" computer of 4 or 5 years was having hard drive problems and was too expensive to repair. So now with the new computer I am also working with Windows 8, a new version by Microsoft. It's very different from Windows 7, but I'll spare you the analysis. Changing computers and Operating Systems is like beginning a new relationship and learning all the wonderful as well as quirky things that go with that. Let me just say that I am researching quite a number of utilities and apps that will make Windows 8 look like Windows 7!

My new computer: Seannie

This is the last week of the Catholic Christmas Season. The last day of Christmas is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (this year Jan. 13). I personally would support the former calculation of the Christmas Season as the 12 Days of Christmas, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6; Jan. 6 being the Feast of the Epiphany. I probably feel this way because the commercialization of Christmas means that we have an ever earlier shopping season before Christmas with Christmas music, parties, TV Christmas specials, etc. Imagine if we did that with Easter, making all the weeks before Easter a time of Easter music, parties, shopping, etc. What would Lent be? As it is, Advent is eclipsed by all this "pre-Christmas promotion" and when the real Christmas Season arrives (beginning on Dec. 25, imagine that), many are ready for Christmas to be over. For many Protestants it is over. But for Catholics, at least officially, we have several more weeks of Christmas; thus this Sunday there will still be all the Christmas decorations  in the church.

In some cultures in the past, the Christmas Season might not end until Feb. 2, which is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. After the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Church changed the liturgical calendar so that the Sunday after Epiphany would be the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan. In the United States, the celebration of the Epiphany is transferred from Jan. 6 to a Sunday (thus throwing off the famous 12 Days of Christmas). Actually, Epiphany (which means manifestation or revelation, as in  the revelation of the divinity of Christ) celebrates three manifestations: the Magi coming to worship the Christ Child, the Baptism of Christ, and the miracle at Cana, when Christ turned water into wine. In the Orthodox Church, as ancient as the Roman Catholic Church, Epiphany focuses mostly upon the Baptism of Christ. But we created a separate feast for the Baptism, as mentioned.

I like the certain logic of all this. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, that the Son of God took flesh and lived among us. This is the beginning of Jesus' life. The Feast of the Holy Family, which is the Sunday after Christmas, celebrates his early life, the little we know of it. Epiphany, in the Catholic Church, also focuses on a childhood event: the coming of the Magi. Then we have this Feast of his Baptism. That brings us to the beginng of his public ministry, at around age 30.
By the way, when  Lent begins, the story will be taken up again and the first Sunday of Lent observes the temptations of Christ in the desert after his Baptism. Isn't it interesting that Christ walks with us all through the events of our life; but also, we spiritually, through the liturgy, walk with him through the events of his life. And each event has a very rich lesson for our lives, if we can take the time to listen and think about it.

Return to Home Page