Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Your Well-Trimmed Light"

My husband is fairly brilliant in matters theological. He knows the Bible backwards and forwards, he knows the Church Fathers and their letters; he quotes the decrees of the Councils of the undivided Church at breakfast -you get the picture. It is not often that I can score a good one! This year he was complaining about the Christmas cards I purchased because they read "Happy Holidays." "Well," I said, "You and I know that 'holiday' comes from 'holy day.' And they were on sale!" He hurumphed into his coffee and that was that. Imagine my delight when the sermon on Sunday containd a reference to that very thing! Our priest opened his sermon with some observations on the "Happy Holidays Phenomenon." For us, the Christmas Season is chock full of Holy Days! Tomorrow night, we will celebrate The Vigil of the Nativity; 25 December we celebrate The Birth of Jesus (not His Incarnation -we celebrated that 25 March - 9 months ago); 26 December we honor Saint Stephen, the First Christian Martyr (I have a brother named Stephen; I grew up singing about St. Wen. doing something on "the Feast of Stephen." I had no idea, but I had some creepy ideas!); 27 December we celebrate John the Evangelist, The Beloved Disciple; 28 December we celebrate The Feast of the Holy Innocents, the children Herod killed, and we remember the children today, born and unborn who are in peril; 29 December is Thomas Becket, 1 January, eight days after The Nativity, is the Circumcision of Christ - the first time Jesus' Blood was shed in accordance with The Law; The 12 Days of Christmas come to an end on 5 January with the Twelfth Night Festivities; 6 January is The Epiphany. That is a Season of Holy Days indeed!

I am as guilty as anyone of letting the stress of the season get to me - my house is a wreck with glitter and glue and globs of cookie dough that some how leapt onto the cabinets and under the table; unfinished Christmas stitching is overflowing the basket; the presents I have bought are not all wrapped, my sister's little girl has the flu and family plans are up in the air - BUT I keep reminding myself that the only thing I really have to do is prepare myself and prepare my children to fully celebrate Jesus' Birth. That is all. If we did nothing but attend Christ's Mass, snuggle while reading some favorite Christmas books, rise on Christmas morning and sing the beautiful carols - it would be enough! The presents and decorations and travel are gravy (or icing, if you look at it that way!) What a shame it would be if the simple and real things were overlooked in the bother and bustle of "the holidays;" if we like the foolish virgins (think of all the ones we have cross stitched!) were found unprepared to celebrate this Great Feast.

"Wake, awake, for night is flying: The watchmen on the heights are crying, Awake, Jerusalem, arise! Midnight's solemn hour is tolling, His chariot wheels are nearer rolling, He comes; prepare, ye virgins wise. Rise up, with willing feet Go forth, the Bridegroom meet: Alleluia! Bear through the night Your well-trimmed light, Speed forth to join the marriage rite."

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Catherine said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing and reminding.....may your and your family have a Merry Christmas!

Siobhan said...

What a beautiful blog post! My father, God rest his soul, impressed upon me early on how important it was to keep Christ in Christmas, right down to the Christmas cards. Interesting about the holiday/holy day thing! I know it's a big thing in the US, and I miss being home so much during the Christmas season, but it is nice to live in a country that hangs up Happy Christmas signs, where it is said freely to everybody, where the cathedral and friary are packed to the rafters on a regular basis--but especially at Christmas. We get to the cathedral an hour before Mass begins to make sure that we get a seat. For years Catholics were not allowed to practice their religion and there is great tolerance for those who don't follow the majority because lack of tolerance is such a part of the history. Oh, and we celebrate St. Stephen's Day--and it is called such! In my part of the country, no shops are open from 6 pm on Christmas Eve till the 27th--at the earliest.

Anyway! I hope you had a very merry Christmas, and best wishes for 2010!

Deborah/LavenderRose said...

So beautifully written and from the heart, Michelle. As a Christian, I find the air full of angel frost and something quiet and holy all by itself. This year I enjoyed spending time with one of my grandbabies...Kellan, who is a year old. He didn't understand much; but, he did understand the lights, the carols, the books Jessica read to him and the specialness of the holy time. Thank you for sharing with us about your time.
Love and hugs,