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Christmas Ain’t Over Yet!: Weekly Message for 01-08-2019
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, pax Christi:
Merry Christmas!… Still!
Yes, we are still in the Christmas season. Maybe you have gotten back to your ordinary life after the recent festivities, but as a Church we are all still basking in the light of our Savior’s birth as we celebrate these weekdays after the Solemnity of Epiphany. This is one of the things I love about being Catholic: Our holy-days are more than holiday blips on the calendar; we are invited to give them enough time and attention so the truths they reveal about God and ourselves can really penetrate our hearts and minds.
Ever since I was a kid, my favorite day during the Christmas season has always been Epiphany. Even though we didn’t go to church when I was growing up, something about the story of those three wise men who traveled from far away to come and adore the baby Jesus struck a chord in my heart. I used to pluck out the carol, We Three Kings of Orient Are, on the piano in our living room, next to the Christmas tree. I used to pay special attention to the figures of the Magi in the little manger scene on the coffee table… Something struck me about it, but I wasn’t able to put it into words until years later.
When I became Catholic I learned that Christmas was more than just December 25th. It was a whole liturgical season that, traditionally, began with Christmas and ended with Epiphany – the “Twelve Days of Christmas” were those twelve days. And that makes so much sense. The awe-inspiring event of our Savior’s birth deserves more than just one day of celebration!
During my theology studies, I learned that in certain places and periods of Church history, Epiphany was actually celebrated more intensely than Christmas. The arrival of the Magi – who are not Jewish – was the first inkling of the expansion of God’s Chosen People to include believers from every race and nation. But it wasn’t this aspect of Epiphany that struck such a deep chord in my heart.
Rather, it was the aspect of the journey. The Magi took a long journey in order to worship Jesus. And our Christian lives are also a long journey. That’s why I always address you as a fellow pilgrim when I write these emails. We are in the midst of a journey, of an adventure. It began when God revealed himself to us through letting us glimpse his goodness and power in some kind of star, and it will end when we see the Lord face-to-face, just as the Magi did.
This fascinating idea – the Magi’s journey as a living parable for every Christian’s life – is the inspiration behind one of my favorite Retreat Guides: Starlight: An Advent Retreat Guide on the Three Wise Men. If you feel like ordinary life is already dimming the lights of Christmas in your heart, why not take some time during this last week of the Christmas season to read through that Retreat Guide and see what God still wants to say to you about Jesus coming to earth?
The Christmas season isn’t over yet. God still has graces for all of us floating in the liturgical air. Let’s reach out for them so they can strengthen us on our continued journey through this fallen world to our heavenly home.
Yours in Him,
Fr John Bartunek, LC