‘Cause a Catholic Party Just Don’t Stop!
Merry Christmas! That’s right, it’s still Christmas! I’m sure faithful readers of Serviam Ministries’ blog already knew that, but in case you didn’t, or more likely, in case you know people who don’t, that whole Twelve Days of Christmas thing starts on December 25th. If you’re keeping track, today’s the Fifth Day of Christmas. And if you’re not, here’s a reminder:
The fact that we’re currently in the middle of the Twelve Days of Christmas is one of the many aspects of which even the most “cultural” aspects of our faith is really completely counter-cultural. I mean, wishing someone a Merry Christmas in the middle of December is becoming more and more taboo, but it still does happen from time to time. But how many times do you wish people at work or elsewhere a Merry Christmas after December 25th? How many of you wished someone Merry Christmas today? Last week, the radio stations were obnoxiously playing pop Christmas songs. Now they’re obnoxiously playing pop songs that give no indication whether it’s December or July. Retailers are stocking their shelves with Valentine’s Day specials while the Wise Men are still making their way to Bethlehem.
Fulton Sheen used to talk about the two great philosophies, the first being, First the Feast, then the Famine; and the second, First the Fast, then the Feast. The world operates on the first philosophy, and spends all its time looking forward to the next big thing in order to distract itself from the current drought. And as soon as the holiday is upon them, and they’ve had their party, they’re off looking forward to the next one so they can dull the empty ache and the hangover left over from a holiday that is no longer a holy day.
Catholicism, on the other hand, exhorts us to prepare for the feast with acts of penance and humility and love. Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation not only for Christmas, but for the return of Jesus at the end of time, to make sure that should that end come now, we’d be ready to meet Him and be judged by Him. And after this period of sombre self-reflection, we turn our attention to the joy of Jesus’ first coming, when He came not to bring judgement, but grace and peace and reconciliation! We celebrate the mystery of an infinite God becoming the most finite of creatures—an infant—a baby, whose very nature it is to love and be loved.
And the same goes for when we celebrate that greatest of feasts in a few months, where, before the joys of the Resurrection and victory over sin, we journey through the barren desert of self-mortification known as Lent. For we must die to ourselves if we are to rise with Christ—and just as our final resurrection will be as eternal as He is, so the fifty-day season of Easter can seem to last almost too long, to the point where we wonder whether we can handle any more jubilation!
So remember, it’s Christmas! It’s still the time for “good Christian men [and women to] rejoice!”, to sing out “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”, and bring “tidings of comfort and joy” to those around us. And if people think you’re weird and doing things a little backwards, so much the better! For Christmas, God becoming a baby, is the most topsy-turvy thing that ever happened!
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