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Notices

FIRST INSTALMENT: THE FEASTS OF CHRISTMAS

In her Christmas Meditation, ‘The Fullness of Time’, Joan Chittister tells us that the Christmas season is not about one feast day. Rather that it is a series of feasts that create a heightened awareness in us of what the season’s major feast is all about. These feasts open up to us the real nature of this child whom, with the shepherds, we have come to realise lives with us, in us, as much today as yesterday. The minor feasts of Christmastide give us a great deal more than a manger. They give us, as adults, models to live by if we, too, are to be steeped in Jesus and full of new life. They give us a way of looking at our own world differently because through them we come to see Jesus differently. The Feast of the Holy Family The Feast of the Holy Family depicts Jesus in a home where he grows in wisdom, age, and grace. It is a model of what we want for the children of our time. It is a model of the kind of love and care that encourages children to grow up to be on their own but guides them as they do. This feast causes us to pause and look at our own families, both the ones we grew up in and the ones we’re now developing ourselves. It raises questions in us about the harmony of the home we’re in now — and what part we play in both its peace and its disturbance. We are brought to wonder what wisdom, maturity, and virtue the children of our time are able to see in us that will transfer itself to them. We must ask ourselves if we are learning from one another, caring for one another; becoming more spiritual together as we go. And if not, why not? And what do we intend to do about it, as Jesus did, for the sake of the rest of the world? The Octave of Christmas: The Feast of Mary, the Mother of God Very few feasts have an octave, an eight-day commemoration of the feast, meant to give even more significance to the dignity and importance of the major celebration itself. Like incense, an octave is the sweet memory, eight days later; of what has gone before. It is the aura of a feast, so important, so impacting, that the power of its presence in the human soul lingers far after the feast itself. If nothing else, it is an octave that says to the deepest part of us, Don’t overlook what you have just seen. Think again. Think about it always. In that same way, this feast adds another layer to Christmas. The Octave of Christmas, January 1, while we are still very much aware of the birth of Jesus, confronts us with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. But this feast is not the church’s answer to the annual Mother’s Day so common in the secular world; this feast is a statement about both Mary and Jesus. She is human, we know, and therefore so is he. This Jesus is no Greek god, no being from another planet, no fairy-tale divine. This child, born of Mary, is us. The Solemnity of Mary is a cataclysmic theology of both the compassion of God for human limitation and the potential of the human spirit to grow into the divine. (Source: The Liturgical Year-The Fullness of Time-Joan Chittister)

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