As we continue our journey through the liturgical year, the Church now gives us the joyous season of Christmas, which will continue through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 8, 2018.
The main characteristic of Christmastide is the Light of splendor emerging out of the darkness of sin and death, which we saw throughout the days of Adventide. This Light causes something of an upheaval in the normal liturgical system of Season and Cycle, days, weeks, and months. It begins with the four Masses for Christmas: the Vigil, the Midnight Mass, the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass During the Day. These Masses announce the birth of the “Light of the World” from the frail bonds of our humanity. At the same time, we are held in the embrace of the Virgin Mary. The Divine Word takes human flesh from Mary – He is true God and true man.
There is, then, a human-divine mystery here which the liturgy itself underscores: in the regular weekly cycle, the cycle of the Saints is fused with the cycle of the Lord. So we have the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr (Dec. 26), the Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist (Dec. 27), and the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28) all encircled by the Feast of The Holy Family (Sunday in the Octave of Christmas).
The whole Octave is cradled in the arms of the Virgin Mother, who appears as the quiet contemplative, “pondering” all the events of Christ in her heart. She is seen as the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ. The last day in the Octave is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. This Feast ties in with the Feast of Epiphany and with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord to reveal Christ, the Universal Savior, coming forth from the cosmic waters of primeval darkness, with His eternal light and splendor, shining throughout the world.
adapted from L’Osservatore Romano, General Audience of St. John Paul II,
“Reflections on the Identity of Christ,” January 14, 1987
Used with permission
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 14, no. 1. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.