Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Hastle of the Church's Life

So, as occasion has it, a solemnity happens to fall on a Friday. What's the big deal, right? Well, as the Church's practice has long been and continues to be, we Catholics do penance on Fridays, except when a solemnity falls on a Friday. Enter the confusion of Christmas.

Liturgically (therefore, ecclesially), we celebrate the very feast of Christmas for an octave - eight days. So from December 25 to January 1, it is Christmas every day. Of course, the liturgical season of Christmas lasts longer than just the octave of Christmas.

Yet, for centuries the Church has celebrated other feasts over-on-top of the Christmas Octave: today is St. Stephen, the first martyr; tomorrow is St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist; the day after that is the Holy Innocents, those boys two years old and younger who were murdered in the area of Bethlehem by Herod who was trying to kill Jesus; the Sunday within the Octave is Holy Family; the last day of the Octave is January 1 - the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

So then the question becomes, "What is today? Is it only a feast (St. Stephen)? Or is it also the Octave of Christmas, and therefore a solemnity?" The difference isn't to be overlooked, especially for those who desire to live deeply the life of the Church. It seems wrong to do penance within the Octave of Christmas, but liturgically, it's the feast of St. Stephen and Friday. I don't have an answer to this conundrum.

Either way, I hope your Christmases were joy-filled and truly blessed. Keep living it up, for the Christmas season (not to mention the octave) is just getting started!