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Merry Christmas to all!

I pray that everyone had a great Christmas day surrounded by family and friends. Christmas is one of the most remarkable times of the year when we are filled with nostalgia and seeing the excitement of children readily calls to mind our own happy memories of Christmases gone by. This is a time when people seem happier and more generous and it is easier to call to mind all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us throughout the year.

Christmas truly is a time for celebrating but unfortunately, we live in a society that has the celebration of Christmas backwards. Beginning even before Thanksgiving, we start hearing Christmas music, watching Christmas movies and attending Christmas parties; and by the time Christmas day rolls around we are so sick of tinsel and silver bells that we cannot throw the Christmas tree out the door fast enough. It’s unfortunate because that is when the real celebration of Christmas it just getting started. 

In the mind of the Church, the time leading up to Christmas, the season of Advent, is meant for careful preparation just slightly less penitential than Lent, in order to prepare ourselves to welcome the Lord at Christmas.  The time after Christmas is meant for the real celebration. For the Church, Christmas does not even begin until Christmas Eve and it does not officially end until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Epiphany.  Many people mistakenly believe that the Christmas season ends on the feast of the Epiphany (the visiting of the Magi) which used to always be celebrated twelve days after Christmas on January 6th (hence the “Twelve Days of Christmas”), but the season of Christmas does in fact continue all the way to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (which this year falls on Sunday, January 10th). So even though your Christmas tree probably won’t last that long, and you probably don’t want to hear “Away in a Manger” again until next year, it is still worthwhile to continue to celebrate Christmas-- we are just getting started! So don’t be afraid to wish people a Merry Christmas during these next couple of weeks, and when they look at you like you have been drinking spoiled eggnog, perhaps you can use that as an opportunity to evangelize and share the Good News.

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Curtis Hecker

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