Sunday, January 05, 2014

Christ-Mass: Day 12 (Not Epiphany)

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming ...”

Today, as mentioned earlier, the traditional Roman calendar observes the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus*, while the reformed Roman calendar observes either (universally) the Second Sunday After Christmas, or (in the Dioceses of the USA and elsewhere) the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Why the latter, you ask?

This is a judgment by a competent territorial body of bishops. In this instance, the term "competent" is used guardedly. You see, they think you are entirely too lazy to celebrate anything on a weekday. So they make it convenient for you. They would probably provide drive-thru confessions, and probably had to ignore the advice of an army of lawyers and "risk assessment specialists" to pass on the idea. Perhaps once we succeed in converting the culture for Christ, they'll move Christmas to a Sunday as well, to coordinate our schedules with the department stores. Almost seems worth it, right?

We can say all we want about "the reason for the season" and "keeping Christ in Christmas" and all that. But such festivity presumes a priority attached to, and a meaning for, sacred time. We can assure ourselves that "our bishops know what they're doing." But how can something be sacred if we can bend it and twist it to suit our convenience?

And that's when you gotta ask, do they really know what they're doing?

When I was growing up back in Ohio, our town had a unique way of disposing of old Christmas trees. They'd take them to some field at the edge of town, stack them in a big pile, and commemorate "Twelfth Night" with the lighting of a bonfire dubbed the "yule log." Of course, my parents didn't go for that sort of ribaldry, so I never actually saw it happen. These days, I imagine people would have a hard time penciling it in between trips to soccer practice and PTA meetings. In fact, since leaving the Buckeye State to seek my fortune elsewhere, I have learned that the town has yielded to other priorities, courtesy of the county's Office of Environmental Quality: "Many recycled trees are sent through a wood chipper and are used as mulch."

Now that kills the holiday magic right there. Then again, why celebrate the gifts of the season, when you can spend the rest of the year spreading them on your lawn or walking all over them?

Meanwhile, here at Chez Alexandre, we have celebrated Epiphany on the traditional day all along. Still, there is a great temptation to take down the lights already, to put the decorations back in storage until the season returns, and to send the dying tree to its final resting place.

But before that happens, we go back to work on Monday, and life continues to slowly return to normal.

Finally, in the traditional Roman calendar, the fifth of January is when the Church remembers Saint Telesphorus, elected Bishop of Rome in 126, and martyred ten years later. The reformed Roman calendar honors Saint John Neumann, the native of Bohemia who was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia in the mid-19th century, and who was a key figure in spreading the Faith to an ever-expanding United States of America.

* At one time combined with the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1, before the 1913 calendar reforms of Pope Pius X, thus the revisionist conspiracy is even worse than many are led to believe.

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